Reading and Talking about Biographies

Reading and Talking about Biographies

Reading and Talking about Biographies

Date posted: September 9, 2019

Today, Rachel Stenberg, a LINC instructor and Resource Teacher at Windsor Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Burnaby, shares a successful biography project she did with her adult ESL class. Thanks, Rachel!


Need a fun way to use readers with your class?

My LINC 4 adult ESL students absolutely loved the Grass Roots Press Biography readers!

In May, I decided to test drive an idea that had been floating around in my teacher brain for quite a while. I wanted my students to read a book at home and then make a poster to present to the class. I ordered a set of readers from Tina at the Decoda Library and set my plan into action.

Step one involved work for me!  I chose one of the books so I could model the project. I read the book and then made a poster about my book.  I wanted to show my students a rough idea of how the posters should look.  My criterion was  lots of visual and very little writing because I wanted my students to practice talking about their book rather than reading off the poster.  I am not a great artist, so I also wanted to demonstrate that it was perfectly fine to do little stick men pictures.

Next, I presented my book and poster to the class on a Thursday.  I told my students about the person in my book and my students listened with interest.  After, I handed out the book presentation paper and explained that each student would choose a book, make a poster and then present to the class.  I gave them 2 weeks to read the books and make the posters.

My students were really excited about this idea.  They all signed out a book to take home and read.  Most of them had already read their books by the following Monday.  They liked the idea that they had the time to read the books at home and look up words at their leisure.  They took poster paper home and worked on their posters.

After two weeks, almost everyone came to school with a finished poster!  First, we practiced our posters within the class.  The students presented their posters to their classmates.  When I do this in class, I always set it up as a circle rotation (sometimes called a poster walk) so that half the students are talking and half the students are listening.  After about 5 minutes the students who are listening rotate to the next poster and listen to a new presentation.  I have a class of 18 so it means that 9 students are talking and 9 students are listening….it takes about 40 min and is very loud!  I rate success based on the class loudness level!

We did 9 students talking one Monday and on Tuesday we switched so that the listeners became the talkers and the talkers became the listeners.  On Wednesday there was a big challenge; they presented their posters to another class.  It was very successful and the students gained a lot of confidence.  On Thursday, they presented to me and I was able to use it for their portfolios.

After we finished the project I asked for feedback.  All of the feedback was positive.  They enjoyed the learning, the reading and the presenting.  I was happiest with the confidence my LINC 4 students gained in knowing they can read a book and present it!

An extra bonus for me was that after we finished our presentations almost half the class asked if they could take some of the other books home to read before I had to return them to Decoda.


If you’d like to try something similar, contact the Decoda Library to borrow some books.

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