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Lesson Plan

Writing and Assessing an Autobiographical Incident

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Writing and Assessing an Autobiographical Incident

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Ten 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students read and discuss several biographies and autobiographies. They analyze two autobiographical incidents, identifying the structure, organization, and style of the pieces. After talking with family members and brainstorming possible topics, students select a focus for their autobiographical incident and use an online tool to organize the events in chronological order. Students then draft their autobiographical incident and complete the writing process by conferencing, revising, editing, publishing, and sharing with the class. They assess their writing with a rubric.

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Graphic Map: This online tool allows students to graphically map the high and low points related to a particular item or group of items, such as life events.

Interactive Timeline: Using this online tool, students can generate descriptive timelines that can be plotted with their choice of units of measure (date, time, event, entry, or other).

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By asking students to explore important events in their own lives and to share those personal memories with the classroom community, this lesson addresses several important points from NCTE and IRA's Standards for the English Language Arts. Standards states: "When students explore the connections between voice and audience, purpose and form, they become more versatile and confident in the choices they make as language users" (34). Sharing personal stories is also an excellent way to build classroom community. Standards addresses the importance of classroom community: "The concept of the literacy community emphasizes the collaborative nature of much language learning. Whether students' participation in a given community is face-to-face or technologically mediated, it is an essential part of their coming to view themselves as effective language users" (45). Standards also addresses the benefits of incorporating students' own experiences into their writing: "...[S]tudents need frequent opportunities to write about different topics and for different audiences and purposes. Their own experiences, enriched by their readings and discussions with others in and out of school, are important resources for writing" (35).

Further Reading

National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading Association. 1996. Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading Association.

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