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Titled “This Is Your Life,” this lesson involves a Family Tree, Interviewing, Childhood Treasures, and Writing


Language Arts, Social Studies  


8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – This is your life.
By – Amy Kelley
Subject – Social Studies, Language Arts
Grade Level – 8-12
There are many elements of your life that you may not know about. Your goal here is to explore your background and discover information about you. You will accomplish compiling your autobiography in three ways. Each section will have separate due dates and grades.
Part 1: Family Tree
          Construct a family tree. The assignment is to actually build a tree that includes at least the following people: parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins, nieces, and nephews. You may extend this as far as you like. If you have a stepfamily, you may include them if you wish. If your family is extremely large, you may want to choose just one side of your family to represent. If you are adopted, you may use your adoptive family and/or your natural family if you are in contact with them.
          Your tree should be your creation. Part of your grade will be creativity. Various ideas include: (1)using poster board and gluing pictures onto the tree and writing the names underneath, (2) If you have computer access, cut and paste an image of a tree and add the names of relatives then print, (3) Take an actual branch from a tree that has lots of other branches extending from it and hang the names from string attached to the branches. Please be original in your work and HAVE FUN with this!!!

Family Tree Due:_______________________________________________

Part 2: The Interview
          Find a member of your family that has known you since birth. Interview that person, asking questions about how you grew up and what you were like as an infant/toddler/child. I will provide some guideline questions. You may put this interview in any format you choose. You may do it in dialogue form, essay form, or story form. I will be grading for content and focus. You may include your own commentary on the stories you hear such as, “I didn’t know that I used to suck my big toe before I started walking. I can’t believe I did that!”
          This interview may be typed (you may work on the class computers if we have some free time) or neatly hand written. I HAVE TO BE ABLE TO READ YOUR WRITING FOR YOU TO GET CREDIT FOR YOUR HARD WORK!

The Interview Due:______________________________________________

Part 3: Find A Treasure
          On the given due date, you must bring in something that you treasured from childhood. This could include a book (you can read your favorite children’s story to the class), stuffed animal (tell us how you got the animal and why it’s special), home video (let me know so I can reserve the TV/VCR), your first tooth (tell us when you lost it and who pulled it out), a lock of hair from your first haircut (who cut your hair first and how did you react), or anything else you treasure. Just let me know on the date given what you are bringing in and write at least one paragraph about the treasure.

Tell me what your treasure is on:_____________________________________

Present your treasure on:___________________________________________

Interview guidelines

          In your final written piece, you must include your name and the name of the person whom you are interviewing. Also state the relationship or connection you have with this person. You may format this part of the project anyway you want but if you need some direction then I suggest using the dialogue format. You ask the question and the interviewee answers it. This must be written with complete sentences and detailed thoughts. I am giving you basic questions to get started and to have some way of organizing your thoughts, but I expect you to go beyond the guidelines and dig into your past. You could possibly tape the interview and then go back and form your paper later. What ever works.

1.          How old was I when you first saw me?
2.          Do you remember what I was wearing?
3.          How did I look to you? Give me a detailed description.
4.          How did I act?
5.          What features stood out for you as far as looking like a certain family member? (for example, did I have my dad’s eyes?)
6.          Do you remember a time when I was in trouble? What happened?
7.          Did I ever do anything to make you laugh out loud? What was it?
8.          Do you remember any milestones that I may have had around you? First steps, haircut, lost tooth, etc.
9.          Do you have any pictures of me that are your favorite? What memory does this particular picture evoke?
10.          When I was learning how to talk, did I ever have any cute sayings or mispronunciations? (like, instead of saying spaghetti, I’d say ” I want some skettey.”)

Try to have a lengthy conversation with your interviewee and get as much detail as possible. You MUST go beyond the guideline questions I give you!
Don’t forget to include your comments on events or stories that you had forgotten about or didn’t know about. Enjoy this time with your family member!

E-Mail Amy Kelley !

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