Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Using Graphic Organizers with Biographies—with FREE download

This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog.   Click here   to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also 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. 

Warm weather is (hopefully) upon us!   This means many of us may be wrapping up a productive school year or adventuring on an extended year or summer program launch.   A goal for my readers over the summer months is that they keep on reading in order to avoid the well-known “summer slide” in reading ability.   Our young readers’ reading muscles often weaken from not being kept in shape over the summer.

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!


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.


For more information about the Hameray Biography Series , 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.