Teaching Characterization with Bio Poems, Examples: Transitioning from Reading to Writing


The Bio-poem

Bio-poems are a wonderful introductory tool and discussion prompt for inspiring reading and writing comprehension. It is also a great icebreaker for pending activities. It is flexible and can be used in a variety of ways.

Here is a sample template for a bio-poem;

Your first name (or that of your subject),

Who is...(three adjectives)

Sibling of...Who loves...(three ideas or people)

Who fears...(three ideas )

Who needs...(three ideas)

Who feels...(three ideas)

Who would like to see...

Resident of...

Last Name

you can also customize your template by adding a simile and/or metaphor line such as;

Name is like a...(simile)

Name is a ...(metaphor)

  • Students can apply a bio-poem to any of the characters in a story. This will promote a deeper understanding and develop characterization skills.
  • Students can use the bio-poem technique as a pre-writing skill when developing a biography or autobiography.
  • A bio-poem can be used to compare and contrast between the antagonist and protagonist in a narrative.
  • A bio-poem can be a fun challenge when applied to non human characters that have been personified in a narrative. (consider applying to the understanding of figurative language and personification i.e. poems on nature, objects, or love)

Bio-poem Extension Activities

Connecting with a character can be a challenge for visual and kinesthetic learners.

  • You can expand on this activity by adding a graphic organizer of a character.
  • Decorate the character with swatches of clothes and with cartoon bubbles containing comments the character would say.
  • Do this for each character from a narrative. Create a booklet and add the character figures and bio-poems. Have them design a new book-cover and a summary of the narrative for the back cover.

These activities can be customized for a variety of age groups. Have fun and get creative. The whole idea is to have the students understand characterization. The additional activities such as the back cover summary above will allow you to explore and evaluate plot.

Additional activities and ideas for using the bio-poem

Once the poem is done DON'T stop there! You can expand on this in a variety of ways.

  • From autobiography to biography - Have students exchange bio-poems and have them write a short biography or poem based on their friend's paper.
  • Build a character wall of the various characters in a novel you are reading or writing about.
  • Create a windsock with the characters for your classroom as a visual cue for you and your students. You can refer to it during discussions and lessons.
  • Technology can also be used! Have students create a single slide on Power Point of their respective bio-poem. Let the students add related graphics to it. Create a new Power Point presentation with everyone's slide and show it to the class. You can also convert the slides to a movie and show it to them at the end of the year. Upload it to your class page or blog.

Scan the web for samples of bio-poems and ideas. Templates can vary. Be creative and customize for your specific needs.

© 2011 Marisa Hammond Olivares

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Comments 25 comments

shea duane profile image

shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

This is intersting and would be a great addiiton to an elementary school curriculum!

good hub.

asmaiftikhar profile image

asmaiftikhar 5 years ago from Pakistan

dear your hub is really very informative.and it is very useful for moms to teach their kids and very helpful for the teachers.keep it up

missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas Author

shea duan - thank you for your support. The nice thing about Bio-Poems is that they can be adapted to any level of learning. Thanks again!

asmaiftikhar - Always glad to hear you think my hubs are useful and informative. Thank you for your continued support.

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

Very interesting and creative - I like it:)

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Awesome hub MissOlive! Leave it to you to always teach us something new and exciting:)

epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

....well it's true - I'm like David Lee Roth in that Van Halen song and video - Hot for teacher - especially when she teaches this well and looks that good ...... lake erie time ontario canada 5:54pm

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Miss Olive,

I am about to 'digg' this and share with my FB friends-- I am so excited at the new site!

I'm also going out on a limb by saying that this is applicable to adults. I teach nurses pursuing their BSN a couple Holistic courses, where they do much journalling and self awareness exercises. Since joining HP, I am also encouraging them to pursue their creativity along their Nursing journey. One even started her own blog through her inspiration.

I love this whole concept and intend to bookmark. I am starting up a couple classes next week and plan to 'shake up the lesson plan a bit'.

A million thanks- Voted UP & UABI, mar.

Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Thanks, Miss Olive! I learned something new today.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Although my format is different than yours, I write bio poems too - with acrostics. I find that with acrostic poems, my biography of the subject does make the poetry an evergreen hub - something that is rare in poetry online

SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

As always, you bring us creative and very useful hubs.

Miss Olive -- Great work!

Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

MissOlive, you always have THE neatest ideas. I am going to share this on my Favebook writing page AND on my personal Facebook because I have many elementary teachers in my family :)

Rachel Richmond profile image

Rachel Richmond 4 years ago from California

Wow. That's really awesome for breaking the ice. I'll have to remember this. Thanks.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

This is really cool(...)my 12 year old is really into poetry...she will LOVE trying this out! She is reading this with me right now and as I read your poem aloud...the light bulb went on! She remembers and is waiting patiently for me to stop typing so she can try it:) LOVE IT!!!

Up and all things!

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada


I don't have children...no...perhaps that's for the best...but I will use this to break the ice on my next first date.

In the traditions of pimping...I shall be sharing for those I know who have children and...generally agree...believe it's a good thing that I don't...



missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Wow! So many comments! I am behind! I want to thank you for visiting and commenting on this hub.

ThoughtfulSandwiches - thank you for sharing!

The RealHousewife - Very glad to hear your daughter was inspired to do this

Rachel Richmond - it is a great ice-breaker

Adie - thank you for sharing - I appreciate it!

Sannel - Creativity is a fun way to teach and learn! :)

Flora - I will have to check that out - sounds interesting

Daisy Mariposa - glad to hear it!

marcojour - sounds wonderful! I appreciate that you have shared this

epigramman - I could grade your work ALL DAY! :)

Sunshine625 - you ROCK!

Kris Heeter - I'm very happy you think so!

Thanks again everybody!

BRIAN SLATER profile image

BRIAN SLATER 4 years ago from Nottingham Uk

Thanks MissOlive, this is a pretty cool hub, I even learned something myself! Voted up.-awesome!:)

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 4 years ago from United States

I loved teaching the bio-poem--it was my favorite part of my poetry unit! I had my bio-poem framed behind my desk. :) My students had to first write their poem and then use their artistic to make them stand out. We would decorate our hallway with them.

I really like your extension activities! These kinds of hubs make me wish I was still in the classroom... Someday!

Thanks for sharing! Voted up, useful and awesome. :)

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

Brian Slater - I am very glad to hear it! It is a fun project. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. I appreciate the vote :)

ThePracticalMommy - Hi Marissa! These are great for open houses and hallways! I have an awesome team in my hallway and we love to decorate. I love watching students reading and talking about each other's work. Nice to see them having nice conversations and getting excited. The classroom can be fun! Glad you came by to read and comment. Thanks for the votes too!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

interesting idea, miss olive. good hub. up and shared

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

PDXKaraokeGuy - Thanks J. I appreciate it. It is a fun lesson.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

you're welcome, Marisa :-)

kelleyward 4 years ago

I love this idea. I'm bookmarking for future reference. Take care, Kelley

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I must say, I love bio poems - especially yours. It's so you and so sweet. (I would love to see all those places, and many more, too.) This is a great teaching activity. Voted up and shared!

missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas Author

PDXKaraokeGuy, :)

kelleyward, thank you so much!

cclitgirl, awww thanks! I appreciate the shares and votes too.

Joyette  Fabien profile image

Joyette Fabien 24 months ago from Dominica

Very useful ideas for teachers. Are you a teacher missolive? I used to be one.

Thanks for sharing. I will pass this on to my teacher friends.

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