The Process

A biography is the story of someone's life. Not only should it describe the events and facts that took place during that person's lifetime, it also tells a good story. A chronological listing of events can reveal a lot of information, but it may not be very interesting to read. Telling the story of someone's life can make for fascinating reading. 

  1. Along with the members of your newspaper team, decide which categories of endeavours you will include in your newspaper report on famous Canadians. There are many categories from which to choose your famous Canadian. Your famous person may be a scientist, inventor, athlete, author, composer, explorer, musician, hero, or politician to name only a few. A full list of famous Canadian categories can be found at the National Library of Canada website.
  2. Choose the Canadian that you will be writing about. With the other members of your team, decide who will be responsible for researching the information in each biography category. Remember that each member of the team will choose a Canadian from a different category so that your newspaper feature will tell the story of Canadians that are famous in different walks of life.
  3. Using the Internet resources listed on the Resources page, begin to research the life of your famous Canadian. In the introduction section of your article, you will reveal to the reader the basic facts of your Canadian's life. While it is important for the reader to know when this Canadian lived, where he/she lived, what the background details of his/her life are, this is not the major focus of the biography. The reader will be interested mostly in the story of how and why this Canadian became famous. This story, which will bring your famous Canadian "to life", will be the main focus of your article.
  4. As you research the life of your famous Canadian, keep in mind the following questions:
    • What did he/she do to become famous?
    • What values (something that a person considers important enough to do something about) shaped this person's life and achievements?
    • What choices or decisions did this person make which led to his/her notoriety?
    • In what way(s) did the actions of this person benefit or influence others?
    • What were the major obstacles that this person had to overcome?
    • Why should we be proud of this person's achievements?
  5. You are required to use at least three different sources of information in the development of the biography. In other words, if you are using online resources only, then you will be expected to use at least three different web sites for researching your famous Canadian. Your sources of information on your famous Canadian do not have to be limited to online resources. In addition to online resources, you may use books, encyclopedias, cd rom disks, newspapers etc. Make sure that you write down the name of the source or internet page from which you get your information.
  6. Using a word processor, begin to write the biography. Keep in mind that the first part of your story will introduce the reader to your famous Canadian. The main part of the story will describe the challenge, situation or problem that he/she had to deal with. The resolution of your story describes how your Canadian resolved/solved the problem, and what were the consequences/benefits of his/her resolution of the problem.
  7. Most word processors will allow you to create newsletter formatted documents through the use of templates - Student Writing Centre, or page layouts involving columns - Microsoft Word. Cut and paste your biography into the newsletter document format that your group or teacher has decided to use. You can give your newsletter a "professional" look by adding column titles, bylines, and graphics.
  8. Choose a Canadian famous to you. This might be a parent, friend, teacher, relative, or local personality who has influenced your life or made a difference in your community. Using the same process that you developed in writing about your famous Canadian, tell the story of why this friend, relative etc. is famous to you and publish this biography in your group newsletter along with the biographies written by the other members of your group.
  9. All of these biographies must be tied together in your newsletter so it will be necessary for the group to write up a general introduction to be placed at the beginning of your newsletter to tell your reader what the special report is all about. Your group will also have to develop a conclusion for your special report that ties everything together at the end. It will also be necessary to develop transitional paragraphs between each of the sections of your report so that the finished product is read as a whole and not as 5 individual biographies.
  10. Take a look at Learning Advice to find out how to take notes from your sources so as to avoid plagiarism. The Learning Advice section will also show you how to list your sources of information in your bibliography.