Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…

Life Story Timelines

1 Comment

So we read the Anh Do book, we watched some YouTube videos, and we got the students thinking about their own life stories and how these might have some connections or similarities to the narratives that they’d read/seen in class. The next thing we wanted to do was to get the students thinking about how they would go about sharing their own life stories – what they would include and why, which form they would choose to represent them.

I thought using a timeline might be a good idea to help students document significant moments in their life. I also thought some kind of mind mapping tool might go well with this to help students think about some of the events, people and situations that surrounded each of these significant life moments.

So I quickly made up these two things:



Mind Mapper



NB: the year 3 & 4 kids used the mind mapper with less clouds, 5 & 6 used the one with more clouds.

I went through the plan with Michael before the lesson, and I’d initially wanted to get the students using the above tools immediately in relation to their own life narratives. However Michael suggested that I model the process with the class first using The Little Refugee text as an example. I’m glad that he suggested this and that I followed his advice, because not only did this prove to help students with their planning in a later session, it also gave us an opportunity to revisit and reanalyse the text.

I modelled the process by going through the book and picking out what I thought were the first couple of significant moments in The Little Refugee. The first significant moment being Anh’s birth in Vietnam during the war, the second being his family’s decision to leave their life in Vietnam behind to travel to Australia, in a fishing boat, in search of a better life.

After putting these two events on the timeline and going through the brainstorming activity with the class, students broke into their ‘critical friends’ groups (more about this later) and mapped out the rest of The Little Refugee on to their timelines.

This was cool to see. There was a lot of noise and the students were getting down and looking through the text, analysing it and picking out the key moments in Anh’s life. I really enjoyed seeing them all doing this.





Michael and I let them work at this awhile whilst we went around and helped students where they needed or asked for help. We then got back together as a class and jointly constructed the rest of the timeline. It was pleasing to see that most of the class were in agreement about which were the key events in Anh’s narrative.

I asked the students if they were confident in using the timeline and mind mapping tools to help plan their own narratives for next lesson, to which they said “Yes”, and this was epic because it was beginning to feel like everything we’d been doing was finally making more sense.

Project Awesome was fairing well!


One thought on “Life Story Timelines

  1. Just wanted to say thank you. I used your graphic organizers for my student website page on writing science fiction. http://ps160esl.weebly.com/science-fiction.html I think it will help my students plan out their back story and choose the moment they actually want to write into scenes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s