K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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  • Who's Theodor Seuss Geisel?: Meet the real Dr. Seuss: Students will search internet resources, print and multimedia encyclopedias to research information on Dr. Seuss. Students will use a "Biography" template to document information, site resources, and write a simple biography report.
  • Strategy lesson: KWL: This lesson activates students' prior knowledge about famous North Carolinians and helps them organize thoughts and questions before they read biographies.
  • Literature biography project: Students will learn to develop the various processes used in researching and writing a biographical research paper, including brainstorming, note taking, outlining, creating a bibliography, and writing the final draft.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • read texts on a specific famous person using a student encyclopedia.
  • learn how to use basic research skills to answer specific questions about this famous person.
  • learn how to take notes, rather than copy exact sentences from the encyclopedia.
  • learn the importance of citing sources and will complete a simple bibliography.

A follow up lesson will include using the information from the research and writing a short report in their own words.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes


  • World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia (Different student encyclopedias could be used. World Book Student Discover Encyclopedia was chosen because it is easy for second grade students to read and because most of the biography articles were less than one page in length.)
  • Louisa May Alcott by Jill C. Wheeler
  • Amelia Earhart by Marilyn Rosenthal and Daniel Freeman
  • Dr. Seuss: We Love You by Patricia Stone Martin

Technology resources

Computer with any word processing software program.

Differentiation idea: Access to computer with internet and/or CD-Rom encyclopedias (for students who complete their research form quickly).


  • Autobiographies will be introduced first and students will answer questions about themselves as they learn about autobiographies.
  • Biographies will be introduced next. Students will read books about famous people. After learning about a famous person students will collaborate to write a biography about what they have learned about this person.


  1. Names of famous people will be written on 3×5 index cards. Each student will have a different person. (Differentiation idea: Students could work in pairs or small groups.)
  2. Cards will be randomly passed out to students. (Differentiation idea: ‘easier’ or ‘familiar’ cards could be distributed to certain students as needed. Advanced students could be given the cards for Louisa May Alcott, Amelia Earhart, or Dr. Seuss since appropriate websites and/or books are available for enrichment.)
  3. Students will go to the Library Media Center for research. Students will choose the appropriate volume of the encyclopedia (the volume with the author’s last name).
  4. The importance of citing sources will be explained. Bibliographic information will be written on the board, and students will complete a simple bibliography together.
  5. Students will read the article and answer basic questions about their famous person using the Biography Research Form
  6. Students will draw an illustration at the bottom of their page. This can be a drawing of the person or what this person is famous for. (Differentiation idea: students who finish their questions quickly may be directed to other resources (books and/or websites) to expand their research.)

When their research forms are completed, students will return to the classroom. Two follow up lessons will be conducted in the classroom. The first follow up lesson will be rewriting their notes from the research form. Students will use complete sentences to describe what they learned about their famous person. For the final lesson, students will give oral reports to their classmates, sharing what they learned. As oral reports are presented, students can add their famous person to the appropriate category on a chart on the board. Presidents, Inventors, Sports Stars, etc.


Research skills, writing skills and oral report skills will all be assessed during this biography unit using the Oral Report Rubric and the Research Rubric.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 2
          • 2.W.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
        • Grade 3
          • 3.W.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 2

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.03: Explain and describe new concepts and information in own words (e.g., plot, setting, major events, characters, author's message, connections, topic, key vocabulary, key concepts, text features).

Grade 3

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.02: Use oral and written language to:
      • present information in a sequenced, logical manner.
      • discuss.
      • sustain conversation on a topic.
      • share information and ideas.
      • recount or narrate.
      • answer open-ended questions.
      • report information on a topic.
      • explain own learning.

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 2

  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.05: Gather information.
    • Objective 4.06: Comply with the Copyright Law (P. L. 94-553).
    • Objective 4.07: Organize and use information.
    • Objective 4.08: Credit sources of information.

Grade 3

  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.05: Gather information.
    • Objective 4.06: Comply with the Copyright Law (P. L. 94-553).
    • Objective 4.07: Organize and use information.
    • Objective 4.08: Credit sources of information.