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Graphic Life Map

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Graphic Life Map

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Schulze

Yankton, South Dakota


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Students sometimes have difficulty recalling important events in their early lives to write about. This lesson works to resolve this challenge by having students brainstorm as a whole class, in order to benefit from collective recall as they define pivotal moments in their lives. Once items have been remembered, students focus on details of these events by choosing graphic symbols for these moments, people, and places, narrowing their lists to eight to ten items, and then ranking and graphing the items so that the overall connections and patterns are revealed. The graphic life map not only gives students specific events to write about but also includes a graphic for each memory that will help bring the events to life.

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Graphic Map: Using the Graphic Map online tool, students chart the high and low points in their lives. The tool can also be used to graph other items, such as events during a day, chapters in a book, or events in a story.

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The NCTE Guideline on Adolescent Literacy states: "All students need to go beyond the study of discrete skills and strategies to understand how those skills and strategies are integrated with life experiences. Langer, et al. found that literacy programs that successfully teach at-risk students emphasize connections between students' lives, prior knowledge, and texts, and emphasize student conversations to make those connections." Students help each other make connections to important life events through collaborative brainstorming. Their lives become the focus of their prewriting, as they graphically map important events in their own lives.

Further Reading

This lesson is adapted from: Rief, Linda. 1992. Seeking Diversity. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


National Council of Teacher of English. May 2004. A Call to Action: What We Know About Adolescent Literacy and Ways to Support Teachers in Meeting Students' Needs. November 2009. Web. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/adolescentliteracy

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