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Innovators Biography Collection

Planning Biographies for your Classroom Library

Planning Biographies for your Classroom Library

Biographies are on our brain for the month of February! If you are thinking more about a study around biographies with your students, then a place to start is by thinking about your classroom library.
Libraries can mean many things inside a classroom. It could mean the independent reading library for your students. It also could mean a teacher library of books you plan to use when delivering content.  In any case, a library will shift and change, depending on the work your students are doing. Whether you already have a good amount of biographies in your classroom, or you are looking to add more to your collection, here are a few tips to help you plan and organize your libraries:
Independent Reading Collections:  If you have a library in your classroom where students independently search for reading materials, then you are constantly thinking about the different sections you curate each time you have a genre study. If you are building curriculum around biographies, then you will want to consider a spotlighted section for the genre in your library.
In order to help you to prepare for the books students will be reading, you might first take inventory of your current library. Decide if and what you want to add to your collection.
  • Do you have variety in the type of people for them to explore?  (Ex. Athletes, Inventors, Activists, Women)
  • Are there a variety of people from the past and present?
  • Do you want to remove and set aside content area biographies for when you might be studying that topic later in your curriculum?

Once you think about the makeup of your biography section, you will want to consider the reading strategies you might use to support students be successful in the genre. (See our previous blog post, Thinking About Biography, for a few ideas!)

Content Area Collections:  If you are building a unit where students will be independently reading biographies tied to a content area such as science or social studies, your library again, will shift and change. You might consider strategically organizing bins, or categories, of books around the content area they are learning about. For example, if the class is studying about the American Revolution, then you might have bins organized by the different subcategories they need to learn about like the Causes, The Battles, Colonies, etc. You could sprinkle biographies into the different bins so students can get the historical context to coincide with the important people they are reading about. 
If you have other plans during independent reading time but still want students to have access to biographies tied to your content, then you could consider building in a time in your content area to have them independently read a few biographies. You can build a little content together through the week and let them independently investigate the associated people at some point in the unit.
Read Aloud Collections:  Read Aloud in the classroom is a time where the teacher is the only one holding the text with the intent to model the thinking work it requires of the reader. Since the students don’t have the text in their hand, the teacher can strategically set them up to think and talk about certain parts. The beauty of Read Aloud is that it can be done with any type of text. Kaeden has Read Aloud fiction books on its website at kaeden.com/collections/read-alouds.

If you are looking for Read Alouds to share with your students in Biography, then consider building your own collection!
  • There are many options to consider when selecting biographies you want to read to your students.  One place to search for texts would be to draw from the important people associated with your content areas. 
  • Another option for your selections is to think about the text structures you want to expose your readers to. In fiction, it’s relatively easy because stories all operate the same way (character, setting, plot, etc) However, Biographies are written in various formats such as an expository format (straight facts), Narrative Nonfiction (facts told like a story), and Graphic format. Graphic Biographies are a newer format to this genre. 

  • Another idea for Read Aloud selections is to think about current events. Right now, the Olympics are happening and students might love to hear you read aloud and have them talk about something in which they are currently immersed. Browse through our selection of biographies for ideas! Go to kaeden.com/collections/biography.

As you set your goals and plan for the kinds of libraries that would support them, Kaeden is here to help you create any text set or genre library, in this case, Biographies! Let us know what kind of library you are looking for and we can set you up with titles and collections!