Context for this Lesson
FOCUS QUESTION(S): What is a biography? How is a biography influenced by personal narratives and social/political contexts? MATERIALS/PREP: (2) Sheets of big paper, scratch paper for each student, song lyrics/track, role on the wall sheets for each student, markers, and laptop/projector.
INTRODUCTION: Thanks for having me here today and I’m excited to explore the topic of biographies with you all. Today we will be using drama as a way to explore how biographies are constructed from personal experiences and social/political influences. Let’s get started by setting some expectations for how we will move through today’s activities. (Bring out poster with ‘EXPECTATIONS’ written across the top. Have students respond to the following questions to construct classroom expectations. Scribe response on large sheet of paper.) • What makes positive learning environment? • What is necessary for Drama to be successful? • What makes sharing personal stories more comfortable? TRANSITON: Thank you for your suggestions. Now that we have constructed some guidelines, I invite all of you to keep your contributions in mind. I will leave the poster hanging here just in case we need to refer back to it. Now, let’s jump into the lesson. 5 MINUTES ENGAGE (HOOK): We all may have different ideas of what a biography can entail, so let’s just take a moment to generate some ideas of what we think a biography could be. Turn to your neighbor and discuss the following questions. Use a piece of scrap paper to keep your thoughts organized. We will share out thoughts in 2 minutes. • What does a biography do? • What kind of information is found in a biography? • How are biographies written? • Who writes biographies? • Who are biographies written about? Why? (Once students have finished dialoguing with their neighbor, bring out large sheet that has ‘BIOGRAPHY’ written across the top. Jot down their thoughts.) TRANSITION: These are some strong suggestions!! Now, that we have brainstormed some ideas. I would like you to take your scrap paper and in no more than 3 sentences write your personal definition of biography. We will come back to these definitions later. You have 2 minutes. 10 MINUTES
EXPLORE (Share Information about Topic): We are going to keep in mind the suggestions from our previous discussion and your definition of a biography as we listen to an audio track. I’m also passing around the lyrics of this song for you to follow along with and jot down notes. Things to note: • Are there any suggestions from our brainstorm that apply to this song? • How might this song be a type of biography? • How does your definition of a biography differ/compare with this style of biography? (Play audio track) • What did you notice? • What might the mirror represent? • (Reference questions above) This song was written by Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.(aka Lil Wayne) featuring Bruno Mars. We’re going to explore this story today begin to understand the multiple ways we can construct biographies based off of multiple influences and styles. Before we move on to our next activity, I would like to share a video that will give you more information surrounding this incident. 10 MINUTES ‘WAYNE’-ON-THE-WALL: (Bring out ROLE-ON-THE-WALL large sheet of paper) Now that we have listened to “Mirror” let’s explore possible influences/inspiration for this song. I have an outline of a person here, and, for our purposes, this outline represents Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. The area outside of the outline represents people, environments, day-to-day interactions, etc. that Dwayne comes in contact with. (Ask the students the following questions and scribe their responses on the area outside of the outline) • What are some outside influences that you think Dwayne encounters based on the song we just listened to? • Who are some people in his life? • Where does he spend his time? • What is around him? You all are doing a great job at constructing strong inferences, or logical suggestions, based off our current knowledge. Let’s continue! (Ask the students the following questions and scribe their responses on the area inside of the outline) • How might these outside influences make Dwayne feel on the inside? • What are some possible reactions to this outside area? • Which influences seem to have a greater impact on Dwayne? TRANSITION: Thank you for adhering to our EXPECTATIONS that we established earlier. That was a great interview. Let’s take all of the discussion and knowledge that we have accrued throughout the lesson and reflect. 10 MINUTES
WRITE IN ROLE: I am passing around a medium size sheet of paper with a marker, and I invite everyone to draw an outline of a person. This person represents you. Repeat the steps from our previous exercise with Dwayne for your personal outline. I will repeat the questions to refresh you. You have 4 minutes to complete the outside first then proceed to the inside. GO! Now, take your scratch paper and grab a writing utensil. Based on your personal outline, you’re going to begin writing your own biography—known as an auto-biography. Please refer back to your definition of biography that you constructed earlier. Here are some questions to keep in mind as your write your auto-biography. You will have 5 minutes to write your biography. Remember that biographies can take various forms, so feel free to write a poem/song, monologue, or just free-write. However, I ask that everyone write continuously for the entire 5 minutes. Mistakes and spelling are ok at this point. This is not a final draft. • How does your definition influence the way you write your biography? • What information do you choose to use/What information is left out? • What outside influences and internal feelings do you draw inspiration from? • Why is it important to tell your story? (After the students have finished, move into final reflection) I invite all of you to hang on to your definition of biography and auto-biography. Mr. Saxton will be coming back to these materials next week. Let’s end our lesson by looking back at what we did today. • Can someone name one thing we did today? • What surprised you? What was challenging? • How do you decide what is important to have in a biography? Why? • How do you want your biography told? Thank you for having me here today and being such an engaged group of learners. 15 MINUTES