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What Are Bio Poems?


Writers can craft a poem that stands out because of its simplicity. Biography, or bio, poems, represent an 11-line format that follows a specific set of guidelines that allow readers and writers to more deeply explore the character and values of a given person. Writers can use these poems to better understand an historical figure, a fictional character, or even themselves.

Bio Poem Format

Bio Poems follow a specific eleven-line format: 1. Your first name only 2. Four traits that describe you 3. Sibling/son/daughter of 4. Lover of ... (list three people, ideas, events) 5. Who feels ... (list three items) 6. Who needs ... (list three items) 7. Who gives ... (list three items) 8. Who fears ... (list three items) 9. Who would like to see ... (list three items) 10. Resident of ... (City, street or physical location) 11. Your last name only

Historical Context

Bio poems can be used to interact with historical figures. The format may vary, with line 10 being replaced with "Who said ... ." Students may research an historical figure and use the information they find to identify some key character traits. These poems can work as a summary of a life. For example, someone might research Anne Frank. Using what they learn about Frank's brief life, they could complete an analysis of her life.

Fictional Context

Readers of fictional text can develop an understanding of the characters they encounter through the use of bio poems. These poems can help readers compare characters in novels. Bio poems can also provide insight for class discussions and essays. Examining a text for the motivations of a character and stating it in simple words allows for a clear and engaging demonstration of student understanding.

Autobiographical Context

Teachers may also assign students to write about their own lives using this 11-line format. Students examine their own lives and plug the details into the template. Students learn the format of the poem as well as a few things about themselves. When asked to outline fears, wants and loves, students can learn about what they most value. These poems are also often shared with classmates, offering insight into the lives of peers. Both the writing and reading of bio poems can help classmates connect.

About the Author

Sarah Knutson teaches middle school English Language Arts and is a former young adult librarian. She reviews for "School Library Journal." Knutson has a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University and a credential from UC Davis.

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