TEL Lesson Plan
Autobiographical Elements in Fiction

Grade Level: 11
Subject: Language Arts/Reading
Time Frame: 1 class pd (assign. intro), 2-3 class pds (groups)


Students will access information on writers whose work mirrors their lives. (For example, Alice Walker or Maya Angelou).

Databases/Other Resources

Literature Resource Center, Books & Authors, Gale PowerSearch, Academic OneFile


Teacher identifies and lists several major authors of fiction whose lives are often reflected in their work and provides a specific example of such a writer and how autobiography is reflected in her/his writing.

Students, using Gale PowerSearch, Academic OneFile or Literature Resource Center, search for an author whose life is reflected in his/her work, and find biographical entries on this author, as well as articles covering literary criticism of his/her work.

Students compare these entries for information common to both the author’s life and works of fiction and/or non-fiction, and create lists of commonalities.

Students then form groups, in which they compare their lists and find commonalities and differences among their findings.

Outcome: Students will learn that exploring an author’s personal background can provide important clues for understanding the themes and characterizations presented in their literary works.


Steps for Teacher

Steps for Librarian



Steps for Student

  1. Using the Literature Resource Center, Books & Authors, Gale PowerSearch, or Academic OneFile, search for an author from the teacher’s list of writers whose life is reflected in his/her work.  (Suggestion: Limit to full-text)
  2. Find biographical entries on this author and also articles covering literary criticism of his/her work.
  3. Compare these entries for information common to both the author’s life and works of fiction and/or non-fiction. 
  4. List commonalities and compare this list with lists made by other students about other authors.
  5. In small groups, compare lists and find commonalities and differences among findings.  Optional: Groups prepare short presentations on their search process and/or their individual and collaborative findings.

Related Activities

  1. Students can explore their favorite authors and their works to see if there are clues to the stories in the authors’ lives, using Literature Resource Center, Books & Authors, Gale PowerSearch or other sites on the Internet. 
  2. Students can write short stories or poems including aspects of their own lives.
  3. Watch or listen to interviews of different authors where they tell about how their lives or their family histories have influenced how and what they write. 
  4. Watch films made from these works, such as The Color Purple or Roots.

Content Standards

English/Lanuage Arts

Standard: Content Area Reading 3081

The student will develop the reading skills necessary for word recognition, comprehension, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and appreciation of the written text.


Learning Expectations/Grade Level Expectations

Standard: Content Area Reading 2081

The student will use interactive strategies to derive meaning from text.

a) Use interactive strategies to access vocabulary by decoding words or identifying words in context.
b) Use interactive comprehension strategies to enhance understanding and to respond to text content.

The student will use appropriate strategies to respond to text.

a) Summarize content and filter relevant information in order to build a knowledge base.
b) Interact with text to connect to and form personal interpretations.
c) Interpret ideas, recognize logical relationships, and draw conclusions based on sufficient evidence.
d) Make connections to previous learning, other content areas, and personal experiences.

The student will evaluate and reflect upon learning strategies utilized to make meaning from text.

a) Discern reading strategies appropriate to text and the individual.
b) Apply the strategies and processes learned to a variety of texts and contents.



Performance Indicators State

N/A for English/Lanugage Arts: Content Area Reading 3081



ISTE Computer Literacy and Usage Standards

3. Research and Information Fluency.

Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluation, and use information. Students:

a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.

b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluation, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of media and formats.

c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.

d. process data and report results.


AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

1. Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

2. Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.

3. Share knowledge and participateethically andproductively asmembers of ourdemocratic society.