Have you ever felt like reading an Autobiography?
Isn’t it fun to explore some real interesting stuff, from real people, real events, experiences, how they react, etc. It is like, in a sitting, you consume many experiences, many outlooks of life, many interesting and applicable information, even having some of your dilemmas being discussed or partially solved.
The first Autobiography
In 1865, an autobiography published by Rassundari Devi from a village called Ramdia in rural Bengal was the first for India in many ways. It was the first autobiography by an Indian on record. It was authored by a woman and is rich in details of the period when reformers were attempting to change the lives of woman.
Do you know that reading autobiographies have huge potential of improving your quality of life?
- Encouraging yourself to read autobiographies surrounds you with people whom you admire.
- It changes your whole perspective, improving you as a person.
- You learn from someone else’s hardships.
- You get answers to some of your dilemmas.
Autobiography can inculcate the writing skills and comprehension skills for language learners.
Writing an autobiography can be very rewarding activity. It can improve learning in any language and provide an opportunity to address the strengths and needs of each student. Above all, writing an autobiography allows students to compose an individualised manuscript based on their own experiences.
It also allows students to develop language-specific skills according to curriculum expectations. The process helps students understand the structural element of a text, the writing and review process, and allows them to apply the rules of grammar and syntax.
So can we encourage the students to start writing their own autobiography?
- Create your own Alphabetical Autobiography!
Students worked hard all week? Do they deserve a special reward for a job well done? This activity will offer students a nice break from structured learning. Adapt it to fit your needs and have some fun!
What and How :
Have students write the 26 letters of the alphabet down the left-hand side of a sheet of writing paper. Then have them think of a word or phrase for each letter that expresses something important in their lives — an event, a person, a skill, a favourite something, a word that describes them…
You might create your own “alphabetical autobiography” as a tool for demonstrating this project to students.
If you turn this activity into a several-week project, you might
- Have students design original cover pages for their books.
- Have students come up with titles for their books.
- Videotape students’ oral presentations of their books and create a CD of the best book pages.
You can also :
- Create a pictorial autobiography using the letters from A to Z.
- Develop narrative writing skills
- Plan/create visual images that represent significant life events and interests.
For Younger Students :
Young students might select, or be assigned, 2 or 3 letters to plan, write, and illustrate. Combine all students efforts to create a nice A to Z bulletin board display.
For Older Students :
Upper elementary and older students might plan to create A to Z books in which each letter stands for a word or phrase about them. They might write a sentence or a paragraph to explain the importance of each word/phrase that was chosen. (Caption length will vary by grade/ability level.) They might include photos, artifacts, or drawings to bring the pages of their books to life. They might be required to use technology (computers, a digital camera, a scanner).
If this becomes a major student project, you will want to provide students with a timeline that details when they should have their draft/design plan completed and deadlines for captions/narratives and drawings/images. The timeline might require students to hand in pages A to H one week, I to P the next week, and Q to Z the final week.
If students create personal ABC books, you might have each student
- Design an original cover page.
- Come up with a title for her/his book.
- Share his/her book with classmates.
In addition, you might videotape the students’ oral presentations and create a CD of the best books and/or book pages. This lesson is a nice self-esteem builder. It can also make a good getting-to-know-you activity at the start of the school year.
Assess student work based upon originality, neatness, writing, organisation, and other key elements of your curriculum. If the students give oral presentations, you might assess their tone, volume, pace, word choice, and eye contact with the audience.
- You can ask your kids to read the Diary of Anne Frank and conduct the following exercise.
- Here is the story of Savitri Bai Phule by the ‘People and Ideas’ initiative, Azim Premji University.
This graphic novel is on Savitribai Phule’s life and work. Savitribai Phule lived a life of service and
extraordinary courage, challenging oppressive social norms in a quest for education, equality, and justice.
- Here is a few interesting list of Autobiographies for your children
- Read about “Freedom Writers Foundation” to know how personal stories can change one’s life.
Know more about how a young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.