Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

[Classic Post] Using Graphic Organizers with Biographies—with FREE download!

This is a guest post by Richard Giso that originally ran in June 2014. If you like what you see here, check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Hello all. I’m Rich from Mr. Giso's Room to Read, and this is my third guest blog post featuring the biographies. You can read the earlier ones here and here. The Hameray Biography Series  has been a hit in my multi-age classroom. 


Today, I am sharing with you a graphic organizer that works very well with the biography genre
 and is simple enough for students to use when reading on their own over the summer, as a way to think about the subjects of biographies, about fictional characters, or even about themselves! When using it with a biography, the reader serves as researcher and records important information while reading the biography. The prompts help students collect main ideas from the text. Here are some examples:
-I wonder (things you are curious about)
-I want (tangible and intangible things you would like to have)
-I try (something you put effort into)
-I say (words that you express). 

What I like about these prompts is that they place the readers in the shoes of the subject of the biography. This response activity can be placed in an independent center, sent home in a summer reading log, completed during independent reading just before a reading conference or as a send-off response to text after a guided-reading lesson. It is very versatile! You can download the sheet at the bottom of this page!

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I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

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For more information on the Biography series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image on the left below to download an information sheet with key features. To download the graphic organizer, click the worksheet image to the right.

Biography Series Highlights Biography Graphic Organizer Download