Learning about NC Authors by Creating an Author Biography Cube (Grades 4-8)

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Select a NC author to learn about
  • Compose biographical questions about the author
  • Conduct research using the NC Literary Map and other resources to find answers to questions
  • Compile data on a planning sheet, then use the planning sheet to create an author biography cube
  • Share research findings with other classmates

Teacher Planning

Time required for lesson: 3-4 class sessions

  • 1 session for introduction/previewing websites, books by NC authors and biographies about authors
  • 2 sessions for planning and conducting research
  • 1 session for compiling information and creating cube
  • 1 session for sharing research findings

Materials/resources

Pre-activities

Teachers lead discussion about biographies as a genre and the type of information generally included in a biography.

Teachers should gather examples of biographies in print and online form and preview these with students.

Teachers will preview the NC Literary Map with students to demonstrate how to conduct an author search. Teachers will want to also preview any other sites they may wish students to use in their search for data about selected authors. (NC Wiseowl databases, Wikipedia, Google, author websites…)

Teachers will preview the Author Biography Planning Sheet with students, providing examples of questions/topics students should consider for their cube.

Teachers will preview the Cube Creator tool.

Teachers will preview the Citation Maker to demonstrate how to cite sources.

Teachers will preview the assessment rubric with students and outline expectations for student participation and project completion.

Activities- Directions for Students

  • Before you begin researching, come up with a set of questions about your author. Some things to consider:
    • date of birth
    • where the author lives
    • things the author enjoys doing
    • type of books the author writes
    • titles of books written by the author
    • other interesting information
      • Does your author have a family, pet, favorite food…
      • Does your author play a musical instrument?
      • Does your author illustrate his/her own books?
  • Use the Author Biography Planning sheet to organize your research.
  • Begin your search with the NC Literary Map website to search for your author. (Hint: Search by genre: Children’s Fiction or Children’s Nonfiction to find authors who may have books in your school library.) Remember to use the NC Literary Map Cultural Resources site and the NC Literary Map Literary Magazines site to search for details about where your author may live, things your author may enjoy doing and articles by or about your author.
  • You may also wish to search specific author websites, books, an encyclopedia, newspaper and magazine articles, interviews, and or documentaries to find information about your author.
  • Always include source information in case you or your classmate wish to check your information or learn more about your author. You may use the Citation Maker website to create your citations.
  • After you have completed your research, use your data to create an Author Biography Cube using the Cube Creator or the blank cube template provided by your teacher.
  • Share your cube with a partner. Some items to discuss:
    • why you selected this author
    • how difficult/easy it was to find information about your author
    • your search process
      • how did you begin to find information
      • which sources were most useful
      • which sources were not useful
    • how you selected information to share on the cube
    • the most interesting thing you learned about your author
    • what you would do differently if you had to research another author.

Assessment

Author Biography Cube Assessment Rubric
Teacher Name:  
Student Name:  
Category 4 3 2 1
Organization I used the Author Biography Planning Sheet to organize all of my questions and answers. I included citations for each source I used. I used the Author Biography Planning Sheet to organize some of my questions and answers. I included citations for some of the sources I used. I used the Author Biography Planning Sheet to organize my questions and answers. I did not include citations for my sources. I did not complete the Author Biography Planning Sheet. I did not include citations for my sources.
Information Information I included at least 8 facts about my author on the Author Biography Cube. I included at least 6 facts about my author on the Author Biography Cube. I included at least 4 facts about my author on the Author Biography Cube. I had 3 or fewer facts recorded on the Author Biography Cube.
Spelling Capitalization Punctuation It was easy to read my work because I used correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation on my planning sheet and my author cube. It was fairly easy to read my work because there were few spelling, capitalization and/or punctuation errors on my planning sheet and/or my author cube. It was difficult to read my work because there were several spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors. It was very difficult to read my work because there were many spelling, capitalization and/or punctuation errors.
Use of time Use of time I participated in class discussions. I used my time wisely. My project was completed on time. I participated in class discussions. I used most of my time wisely. My project was completed on time. I did not participate in class discussions. I did not use my time wisely. My project was completed on time. I did not participate in class discussions. I did not use my time wisely. My project was not completed on time.

Supplemental Information

This activity would fit well within a study of biographies or a study of notable people from NC. It may be extended to include writing an autobiography using the author cube as a short report form.

As an extension, teachers may wish to have students participate in the online activity Writing with Authors: Biography with Patricia and Frederick McKissack to learn more about biographies as a genre.

North Carolina Common Core/Essential Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

NC Information and Technology Essential Standard SI.1 ELE: Apply criteria to determine appropriate information resources for specific topics and purposes. MS: Analyze resources to determine their reliability, point of view, bias, and relevance for particular topics and purposes.

NC Information and Technology Essential Standard TT.1 ELE: Use technology tools and skills to reinforce and extend classroom concepts and activities. MS: Use technology and other resources for the purpose of accessing, organizing, and sharing information.

NC Information and Technology Essential Standard RP.1 ELE: Apply a research process as part of collaborative research. MS: Apply a research process for collaborative or individual research.

NC Information and Technology Essential Standard SE.1 ELE: Understand issues related to the safe, ethical, and responsible use of information and technology resources. MS: Apply responsible behaviors when using information and technology resources.