I started day one of a four-day biography writing workshop with fifth graders yesterday. The kids interview someone (usually a parent or grandparent), then we spend the next few days converting facts into a creative nonfiction story.
I've been doing this workshop for over ten years and have a collection of student writing that is wonderful.
Check out these opening lines from past biographies (keep in mind - fifth graders here):
"Thwack jump 47. Thwack jump 48. Thwack jump 49. Sherry was a born jump roper. Ever since she was born, August 8, 1949, Sherry had been an active child."
"Stroke, stroke. Dab, dab. An artist was at work. A masterpiece was being painted. Sonia *** had a passion for art."
"Nice new asphalt and not a car in sight. Perfect for playing ball, bicycling and marching baby strollers up and down the street." [After we talked about showing setting]
And my personal favorite: "Patricia *** was born in the middle of March of 1957 and was the middle of five. She slept in the middle bunk, played in the middle of the street and loved the middle of summer."
I mean, come on! Pretty great, huh? That last one was written by a very macho, hockey-playing boy who told me he loved to write.