Our latest project in the 4th and 5th grade writing room was completing biographies of classmates. Students began by choosing partners and interviewing each other. The facts, favorites, and anecdotes they discovered set a foundation for our discussion and application of Organization, one of the seven fundamental traits of quality writing.
At the heart of this assignment was the journalistic process. Students realized the key to writing an exciting biography lay in the material they discovered. A biography is rather easy to write if one’s notes are filled with interesting facts and stories. What we write is just as important as how we write – and what we don’t write is often just as important as what we do.
Students sometimes have a notion that word count and quality writing are correlated. Writing, revising, and presenting their biographies helped dispel this notion. A tedious list of someone’s favorite colors, numbers and foods might fill a word count quota, but isn’t interesting and doesn’t tell us anything memorable about the subject. The most compelling biographies include more that’s interesting and less that’s not. Student biographies are posted on the Bixby Writers Blog.