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Lesson Plan

Getting to Know You: Developing Short Biographies to Build Community

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Erika Griffin

Trumbull, Connecticut


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



Students in a class form a type of community, and members must get to know one another for that community to thrive. When students and teachers share their backgrounds and interests early in the year, they develop a base for understanding that will support effective teaching and learning throughout the months that follow. This lesson, which is designed for the first few weeks of school, helps build classroom community. Students begin with a discussion about community and what it means to be part of a community. They then prepare interview questions to ask a classmate about their lives. Students interview a fellow classmate to compile biographical data about him or her and use a Web tool called Bio-Cube to organize the material. In a culminating activity, students use their completed Bio-Cube to introduce their partner to the class.

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Bio-Cube: Have students use this interactive to compile biographical information about a classmate.

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McLaughlin, M., & Allen, M.B. (2009). Guided comprehension in grades 3-8 . Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Comprehension is a social constructivist process. Learning is the continuous integration of knowledge and experience and promotes the active construction of personal meaning.

  • Thematic approaches to teaching and learning are responsive to the interests, abilities, and needs of students and are respectful of their developing aptitudes and attitudes.

  • We read biographies to gain insight into the lives of others, which in turn offers us insight into ourselves.


Nagel, G.K. (2002). Building cultural understanding and communication: A model in seven situations. Reading Online, 6(4). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/nagel/

Important "new literacies" needed in the 21st century include the opportunity to collaborate with others, engage in critical inquiry, and enhance communication skills while learning to respect the varied perspectives of others.

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