Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

Scottish Biography Writing Workshop

How well do you know your own heritage? Do you really know your grandparents and great-grandparents? If you don’t know as much as you’d like, today is a great day to start learning more about them!

Today I am very excited to have started giving a 3-day Biography Writing Workshop at an island school off the coast of Scotland. The students are in sixth and seventh grades and it was delightful to see their eyes light up as we discussed the process of their writing a biography. They were eager to get started.

The rules about who to interview for their writing are pretty basic: 1) someone they already know, such as a family member or friend, 2) someone over 18 years old and 3) someone they want to know better. Within a few short minutes of discussion, each student had selected at least one person for their first interview. A few of them asked if they can interview more than one person, which is gratifying.

Each student was given a list of questions to ask their subjects on a variety of topics, such as their early life, their school life, what they did for fun, how they celebrated events and holidays and what personal values are important to them. They can also come up with their own questions to ask.

Over the next two days, the students will interview their person of choice and start writing that person’s story. When we meet again, they will continue writing the story, then revise and edit it until they are satisfied. On the next day, they will read their stories to the whole class and the top three presentations will be awarded prizes.

If you are ready to get started on your own biography by interviewing someone near and dear to your heart, now is the time to get busy. For a list of the questions the students are using, send me an email at and put Interview Questions in the Subject. I will be glad to share them with you!

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