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William Shakespeare / After Reading / /

Shakespeare: His Life

Writing a brief biography (or autobiography) of Shakespeare’s life.

Lesson length: 1 session+

Lesson from William Shakespeare series

Text potential

  • Writing opportunities: Autobiography
  • Writing opportunities: Biography

Purpose

Writing a biography of William Shakespeare gives the opportunity to write in the third person and past tense while considering the most important events to include.

Teacher’s Note: This writing opportunity follows on well from the Review and Reflect lesson, Critical Events. It also provides an excellent opportunity to apply the grammatical skills learned in earlier lessons, including using parenthesis, modal verbs and adverbs to express possibility and use of the past and past perfect tenses.

Preparation

  • If you taught the Critical Events lesson, the Flow Maps that were created in the session will provide a framework for writing the biography.
  • Copies of William Shakespeare, at least one per pair.
  • Access to the BBC website (see below)

Process

 

Begin by explaining the writing purpose to the class. You might say something like: 

‘We are going to write a shorter version of the events in Shakespeare’s life. This is for people who do not have time to read the book that we have read.’ Compile a list of challenges that writing a biography will present, inviting contributions from the class:

  • Choosing which events to include. (Refer back to the Critical Events lesson.)
  • Writing using the past and past perfect tenses.
  • Including additional information efficiently. (Refer to the prior learning about parenthesis.) 
  • Indicating the passage of time. (Refer to work on adverbials. This is an excellent opportunity to revise the use of fronted adverbials such as eventually, after some time, many years later, which will move the writing forward.)

Remind the class that the Flow Map will help them to organise their writing into paragraphs. Encourage the children to add to their Flow Maps by revisiting the book. 

 

Teacher’s Note: A more challenging writing task is to write an autobiography. You may want to identify children who would benefit from this challenge and work with them as a group. Alternatively, you might prefer to offer the whole class a choice.

The biographies can be presented in different ways. You may want to provide different options, such as:

  • creating a book.
  • creating a comic strip. 
  • slideshow using a computer. 

Give time for writing and editing the biographies. 

Final reflection

If some children have written an autobiography, this is a good opportunity to reflect on the differences between biography and autobiography. The children may notice that an autobiography is:

  • written in the first person
  • contains emotional response to events
  • is less formal

Alternatively, you may focus on one of the grammatical elements such as the use of parentheses or invite the children to compare the key events they chose to focus on in their writing.  

Key vocabulary

biography, autobiography, parenthesis, adverbial, third person

Resources

BBC

Introducing Shakespeare resources for KS2

Visit resource

Contributors

Sam Keeley

Formerly a teacher and local authority advisory teacher, Sam now works with Just Imagine as an English consultant and manager of the year 6 Reading Gladiators programme.

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