Book Project 2: Biography

12 09 2011

Writing a biography is writing someone’s life story. Take a good look at the last word in that sentence – that’s the key – story.  A biography isn’t just a list of dates, places, and names that relate to a person, it’s the story of their life.  Stories are engaging and interesting.  A good biography brings the subject to life, makes your readers actually care about what they did.  No one wants to read a boring list of facts, no one wants to write a boring list of facts either, so we won’t.
The biographies we’re going to write are ones that tell the story of an author’s life in connection with one of their most popular books, so the first thing we’re going to do is pick a book to read.

Below is a list of some very famous authors and some of their most popular books.  Pick a book that is at an appropriate reading level for you.  If you need to, select a children’s or abridged version of the book.  If you’re ready to challenge yourself, pick one that’s a little more difficult.  Some of these books will require permission from your parents.  Check with your teacher before you begin reading to make sure you have a book at your level.  Many of these books are available for free online.  You can download them here. 

 Authors                        Books you might like                                         

Mark Twain                            Huckleberry Finn*, Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer Abroad, Tom Sawyer Detective, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, or short stories

Jack London                          Call of the Wild, White Fang, Sea Wolf, short stories

John Steinbeck                     The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men*, The Grapes of Wrath

Harper Lee                             To Kill a Mockingbird*

Ray Bradbury                        too many to list

L. Frank Baum                        The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Laura Ingalls Wilder             Little House on the Prairie

Louisa May Alcott                 Little Women

Herman Melville                     Moby Dick, Billy Budd

James Fenimore Cooper       The Last of the Mochicans

Stephan Crane                       The Red Badge of Courage

Fred Gipson                           Old Yeller

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings  The Yearling

Esther Forbes                         Johnny Tremain

Scott O’Dell                             Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Black Pearl

Gary Paulsen                           Hatchet

L.M. Montgomery                  Anne of Green Gables (series)

Washington Irving                Short stories

Edgar Allan Poe                     short stories/poems

Maya Angelou                        poems

Langston Hughes                   poems

Robert Frost                          poems

Emily Dickinson                     poems                                                 *need parental permission to read these for class

American Tall Tales

5 09 2011

This dude was ridiculous tall.

All of last week we explored American Tall Tales.  We read about the great frontiersman Davy Crockett and the greatest cowboy of all time, Pecos Bill.  We watched videos about the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and the African-American railroad worker, John Henry.  We even discussed other tall tale heroes like Alfred “Bullstomp” Stormalong, Mose the firefighter, Johnny Appleseed, Febold Feboldsen, Mike Fink, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, and Slue Foot Sue.

All of these characters had their own unique personalities and strengths, but most of them had many things in common as well.  Think about what they all had in common as you answer these questions:  Why did American people start telling stories about these characters back in the middle of the 1800s?  Why did their stories become so important and why did they grow and change so much over time?

Be sure to type out your answers in complete sentences.  Be sure to back up your ideas with some examples, evidence, or proof.  Be sure to check back and see what other people say too.  Be sure to comment on what they say.

Every student in our class is required to participate.  You must comment on this post with your thoughts (probably a good paragraph or two – maybe more), then, come back and comment on what other people have said – you are required to make an effort to keep the conversation going by replying to at least 2 other students (more than just “I agree” or “you are right.” Give them reasons why you agree/disagree or what they said that was meaningful – make this a discussion).