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Lesson Plan

Jazz Up Writing Workshop: Writing Biographies of African American Jazz Musicians

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Jazz Up Writing Workshop: Writing Biographies of African American Jazz Musicians

Grades 2 – 3
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Twenty 20- to 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lily Jones

Oakland, California


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Jazz provides the backdrop for students to learn how to write biographies and organize their work into chapters. Students first gain a strong understanding of jazz by reading biographies of African American jazz musicians and listening to music. Selected biographies introduce the musicians and familiarize students with the format of biographies. Lessons focus on collecting facts, taking notes, and synthesizing notes into biographies organized by chapters. At the end of the unit, the biographies are unveiled at a jazz café publishing party, complete with music and readings.

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Biography Planning Sheet: This structured resource helps students research and record important information about their jazz musicians.


African American Jazz Musician Biography Assignment
: This sheet clearly lays out the details of the biography assignment for students, teachers, and families.


PBS Kids Go! Jazz
:  Students use this website to research information    about their chosen jazz musicians.

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Palmer, R.G., & Stewart, R.A. (2005). Models for using nonfiction in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 58(5), 426–434.

  • Teachers should scaffold the teaching of reading and writing nonfiction texts.

  • Models for using nonfiction texts with young students include (1) teacher-directed instruction, (2) scaffolded student investigation, and (3) independent student investigation.


Ray, K.W. (2004). About the authors: Writing workshop with our youngest writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

  • Students should be encouraged to write in multiple genres from a young age.

  • Writing workshop lessons should consist of a minilesson that teaches an explicit skill, independent writing time, and time for students to share their writing.

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