My Life-Changing Story -As Told by My Classmate

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SWBAT compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of their own life-changing events.

Big Idea

We have compared and contrasted a firsthand account and a secondhand account of the story of Ruby Bridges. In this lesson, it is the students' life-changing stories we will now compose firsthand and secondhand accounts of in order to compare and contrast.


What is YOUR Life-Changing Event

15 minutes

In the previous lessons, we have been learning about Ruby Bridges.  We have taken a close look at first hand and second hand accounts of her story.  We have compared and contrasted the two accounts and found major differences as well as some similarities.

The purpose of this lesson is to create our own secondhand accounts of a person life-changing event in our lives.  I have already asked the students to be thinking about a life-changing event. I explained to the students that their life changing events don't have to be life-changing for the country like Ruby Bridges was.  It simply needs to be an event or events that helped shape who you are.  I gave the students some examples of life changing events in my own life that I was sure the students would not share in common with me.  I find I need to be careful when I give examples because often students don't want to think and will use my example if they can find a way to.  My life changing moments that I shared with the students were:

1. Having my three beautiful children.

2. Getting married.

3. Teaching incredible students each year who become a part of my life.

4. Singing in castles in Denmark at age 15.

To begin our lesson today, I will ask the students to remind me of some of the similarities and differences between the firsthand and secondhand accounts of the Ruby Bridges story.  I will then give the students instructions on expectations for the next section.  I will randomly pick partners for the students.  Each partnership will pick a comfy spot outside (if weather permits) or in the room if it is stormy.  The students will take turns telling their life-changing stories to their partners.  While you are speaking, your job is to tell the story of the life-changing event in as much detail as possible, in order to paint as much detail for the listener as possible.  The listener's job is to take good notes so that you can write about the event when you are done with the interview.  The listener may also ask good questions of the speaker if the listener needs to clarify or needs more information. 

Coles, R. (1995). The Story of Ruby Bridges. New York, NY : Scholastic Inc.

Bridges, R. (1999). Through My Eyes. New York, NY : Scholastic Inc.


Tell Me Your Story - Interviews

30 minutes

After explaining the instructions to the students, I will pull numbers out of container to choose the partnerships at random.  Before I begin, I will remind the students that we are all friends in our class so it shouldn't matter who you get as a partner.  You can smile about any partner.  

Once the partnerships are chosen, the student will grab pencils, paper, and a whiteboard for a hard surface to write on.  They will then find a comfortable spot to relax with their partner and share their life-changing events. I will blow a whistle about halfway through so that the students can be aware of the time and make adjustments on the interviews if necessary.

Writing Your Biography

30 minutes

Once the students have had a chance to interview each other, I will have them return to their seats so that they can begin to compose the biography story about their partner. I will give the students a few pointers before they begin composing the biographies.  

1.  These are non fiction accounts of another person's life-changing event.  Please be respectful and don't change their story or invent and add things that were not there.

2.  Remember to develop a good introduction and conclusion. 

3.  Use linking or transition words to help the piece flow.  

4.  It is great to quote what your classmate said, just make sure to use quotation marks around the words you are quoting.

I will then give the students time to compose the biography on the student they had the privilege of interviewing.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To close the lesson, we will compare and contrast as a class the similarities and differences between writing about our own firsthand experiences and a secondhand experiences.  We don't often get the chance to write a story about another individual, however we write about our own experiences frequently.  Did we learn anything from this experience?

I will inform the students that in the next lesson, we will be writing a firsthand account of our life-changing event or an autobiography.  We will then have the opportunity of comparing and contrasting first and secondhand account of our OWN STORIES!!!  :)