Teaching Characterization With Bio Poems, Examples: Transitioning from Reading to Writing
Bio-poems are wonderful introductory tools and discussion prompts for inspiring reading and writing comprehension. They are also great icebreakers for pending activities. They are flexible and can be used in a variety of ways.
Here is a sample template for a bio-poem;
Your first name (or that of your subject),
Who is...(three adjectives)
Sibling of...Who loves...(three ideas or people)
Who fears...(three ideas )
Who needs...(three ideas)
Who feels...(three ideas)
Who would like to see...
you can also customize your template by adding a simile and/or metaphor line such as;
Name is like a...(simile)
Name is a ...(metaphor)
- Students can apply a bio-poem to any of the characters in a story. This will promote a deeper understanding and develop characterization skills.
- Students can use the bio-poem technique as a pre-writing skill when developing a biography or autobiography.
- A bio-poem can be used to compare and contrast between the antagonist and protagonist in a narrative.
- A bio-poem can be a fun challenge when applied to nonhuman characters that have been personified in a narrative. (consider applying to the understanding of figurative language and personification i.e. poems on nature, objects, or love)
Bio-Poem Extension Activities
Connecting with a character can be a challenge for visual and kinesthetic learners.
- You can expand on this activity by adding a graphic organizer of a character.
- Decorate the character with swatches of clothes and with cartoon bubbles containing comments the character would say.
- Do this for each character from a narrative. Create a booklet and add the character figures and bio-poems. Have them design a new book cover and a summary of the narrative for the back cover.
These activities can be customized for a variety of age groups. Have fun and get creative. The whole idea is to have the students understand characterization. The additional activities such as the back cover summary above will allow you to explore and evaluate plot.
Additional activities and ideas for using the bio-poem
Once the poem is done DON'T stop there! You can expand on this in a variety of ways.
- From autobiography to biography - Have students exchange bio-poems and have them write a short biography or poem based on their friend's paper.
- Build a character wall of the various characters in a novel you are reading or writing about.
- Create a windsock with the characters for your classroom as a visual cue for you and your students. You can refer to it during discussions and lessons.
- Technology can also be used! Have students create a single slide on Power Point of their respective bio-poem. Let the students add related graphics to it. Create a new Power Point presentation with everyone's slide and show it to the class. You can also convert the slides to a movie and show it to them at the end of the year. Upload it to your class page or blog.
Scan the web for samples of bio-poems and ideas. Templates can vary. Be creative and customize for your specific needs.
© 2011 Marisa Hammond Olivares