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Who: Elementary and middle school students, although adaptations can be made for younger students

What: Write a biographical picture book, using the format modeled by Jacqueline Briggs Martin in Snowflake Bentley.
How:
  • Read Snowflake Bentley.
  • Notice how Martin includes interesting information about Bentley in the story and in the sidebars.
  • Choose a person who intrigues or inspires you.
  • Find books, websites, and/or articles about the person.
  • Read. Read. Read.
  • Use a graphic organizer (like the first page of this one) to help you gather important information.  Add any other categories you like. To avoid plagiarizing someone else's work, write your notes after the resources have been set aside.
  • Instead of writing a report about the person, write a story as Martin did. If there is anything in Martin's writing that you want to imitate, like her beginning, that's okay. Just use your own words.
  • Remember, writing is a process. A draft is the beginning, not the end. Ask someone--or two someones--to read your draft, ask questions about it, and make helpful comments, all to aid you in making your story better.
  • Break the story into chunks suitable for a picture book.
  • For a handful of pages, write a sentence or two for sidebars that give additional information about your person. Notice the page in Snowflake Bentley that says, "He could pick apple blossoms and take them to his mother. But he could not share snowflakes because he could not save them." On the right is related information about Willie and his mother that Briggs chose to share there rather than in the story.
  • Present your story in a blank book or any other way you like. (I'd love to see a copy in the Student Showcase.)
 


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