Lesson video

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Hi, everyone.

I'm Ms Chu and I'm going to be teaching you a lesson today.

In this very first session of the unit, we are going to be identifying the features of a biography.

Wonder if you have ever heard of the word biography, or you've read a biography before.

One of my favourite biographies is called, Boy, and that was written by Roald Dahl.

One of my favourite favourite authors of all time.

So when you're ready, we can actually get started.

To get yourself ready for the lesson, you will need these things.

An exercise book or paper, pen or pencil and have your thinking head switched on.

So if you haven't got those things, you may pause the video, go and get those things and I'll be here waiting for you.

Your writing warm up for today.

We'll be looking at parenthesis.

Then we will go into the features of a biography.

And lastly, you are going to be identifying some of the features in some muddled text.

As I said before, parenthesis is our warmup, but what is parenthesis? Parenthesis is a word or a phrase, so, several words or a sentence that is put in writing as extra information.

If you take it away, the sentence or the passage with the paragraph would still make sense.

Wonder if you know, different types of parentheses.

Have a think.

Yes, there's brackets, well done.

Dashes, excellent.

What's the last one? Exactly commas, we use that in complex sentences, don't we? When we have a relative clause, that's giving us extra information, well done.

Here, are some examples.

In 1957, Jane Goodall, and this is my extra information, who was 23 at the time, took an office job in Nairobi.

Would you like to, pause the video now and read and have a look how the other parentheses are used.


So it's used in exactly the same way.

Where the brackets are, you would have the dash of the comma and you'd have to have at the end of your extra bit of information too.

So where it's pink, the end of pink is time, the word time, you'd have to, close the bracket or a dash or a comma.


And if we took out the pink, took out the extra information, should still make sense.

Let's read it, In 1957, Jane Goodall took an office job in Nairobi.

That still makes sense.

Now it's your turn.

I would like you to punctuate the sentence, with parenthesis, choose one.

You could either do brackets, dashes or commas.

Pause the video to read the sentence, then press play.

Now I will read it to you.

During this time, she had the opportunity to research chimpanzee behaviour which was her passion so she decided to extend her stay in Africa.

Pause the video, write out, punctuated with parenthesis.

Great, hopefully you've had a chance to do that.

I did one earlier.

I chose to use brackets and I put the part that I thought was extra information in the brackets.

During this time, she had the opportunity to research chimpanzee behaviour, which was her passion, so she decided to extend her stay in Africa.

I thought, which was her passion, is the part that gives me extra information, so I put that in brackets.

Hopefully give me a thumbs up if you got the same as me.


Then if you did dashes, this is what it would look like, which was her passion - and then the rest of the sentence.

And if you chose to use commas, then this is what your sentence would look like.

Now let's look at the features of a biography.

Some key vocabulary, that you will need to know, as part of your biography lesson, are these words.

The first one with me, formal, your turn.

Conjunctions, your turn.

Rhetorical questions.



So, what do they mean? We need to know because we will need to use it at some point when we are eventually going to be writing our own biography.

Formal is often when this situation or topic is serious, so we're writing a biography about somebody famous, then it is a serious situation.

Conjunctions, a word used to connect words, phrases, and clauses, of course, we need to use conjunctions.

We use conjunctions in our writing all the time.

Doesn't matter what kind of text hyper is, conjunctions are super, super important.

Rhetorical questions, what are they? A rhetorical question is a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect or to make a point rather than to get an answer.

So we might want to ask the reader some questions, to draw them in, to biography.

We might not.

We could do.

Features, is a characteristic of something.

Okay, so when we say that we're going to identify the features of a biography, we're looking at the characteristics of a biography.


Now we know.

We can really get stuck into this lesson now, what is a biography then? Biography, bio graphy.

If you split up the word, bio means life, and graphy do you know? Have a think, tell me the answer.

Is a form or process of writing or representing.

So here we have biography together, is a piece of writing about someone's life.

A biography is a non-fiction text, written about someone's life.

What are the features? So this is what we are looking at today, the main part of our learning, what are the features? We will look at it through, pallp, the acronym pallp, purpose, audience, layout, language, and punctuation.

We're going to break the lesson up into those various things.

Now the purpose of a biography is usually people like to read biographies for enjoyment, and also to find out about the person.

It's a non-fiction text, and if it's someone that you really love or someone that you really want to know about, then it's a really good way of finding out about them.

The audience, depending on the biography, could be anyone.

If it's a biography about a footballer, then the audience would be, I would say people who are interested in football.

If for example, it was a biography about Roald Dahl, then it's somebody who really enjoys reading stories that Roald Dahl has written.

So the audience could be varied.

It could be older, younger, men, women, varied.

Then the layout language and punctuation is what we're going to look at in more detail.

Some of the features we're going to look at, will be, by that it is written in past tense.

We're going to look at the layout, it will have a title and subheading.

It will be written in third person because we're talking about someone else.

Formal conjunctions we've talked about.

Relative clauses it will definitely have.

Some key dates, because we're talking about their life, we'd need to note also when certain things happened in their life and it needs to be factual.

And then I've got time conjunctions and that's related to the key dates.

Let's look at layout now.

What do you notice about the layout of this biography? If you can't see the words, that's okay, we're just looking at the layout, so what does it look like to you? How is it laid out? Pause the video and just really have a good look.

Hopefully you've had a look.

There is always going to be a title to tell you who the biography is about.

So in this example is the life of Dame Jane Goodall.

Then you have your subheadings because you have your different paragraphs, so you need to label them with a subheading.

Then the writing is written in a paragraph, so each under each subheading, there are paragraphs.

And usually, it is written in chronological order, so we start with them young, early life, and then moving through their life to get to where they are now.

So what kind of formal conjunctions will we need to use? I talked about using conjunctions in a biography, but what type of conjunctions? What type of formal that we could use? First of all, what is a formal conjunction? It is used at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma, for example, furthermore.

It links sentences together, there's a picture there of a chain linking things together.

And it provides a formal tone.

The types of conjunctions that we're going to use, or that we will see, identify in a biography, are And conjunctions.

Remember And conjunctions, we're building on something, a point that we've said.

But conjunctions are contrasting what we've said.

I will say them and you'll say them back to me.

In addition to this.



As well as.

And those are, our And conjunctions, And conjunctions.

Our But conjunctions are however.

Despite this.

On the other hand.

These are all But conjunctions.


And here is an example of our And we're building and our But we're contrasting.

Sentence level.

Let's look at, one sentence level feature of a biography.

There we have a picture of Dame Jane Goodall.

Relative clauses.

Relative clauses are quite a good way of adding extra information into a sentence without using just brackets or dashes or commas.

It is a way of showing off a type of sentence that we know, a complex sentence that we know, a complex sentence with a relative clause.

For example, if we have the sentence, Jane Goodall devoted her life to studying chimpanzees, but we want to add information to that and we wanted to show off that we could write a complex sentence with a relative clause, you could add this extra information.

Jane Goodall, who made groundbreaking observations, devoted her life to studying chimpanzees.

So I've added that extra bit of information about the lovely Dame Jane Goodall.

She made great groundbreaking observations and we've put that in, as our relative clause remember we talked when we're writing about a person it's a who, that we're using.

Who is for people.

Which is for places and things.

Quick chat now, which one of these is a feature of biography? Point to the screen.

Quickly point before I show you the answer.

Yes, well done, it's a formal conjunction.

Which of these are features of a biography? Point, point, point.

Quick, quick, quick, before I show you the answer.

Yes, it's in past tense.

Yes, it's in third person.

And which of these are features of a biography? Point, point, point.

Well done, it's factual.

We use time conjunctions and there are key dates.

Excellent, well done you.

Now it is our turn or now it's your turn, to identify the features of a biography.

First of all, I'd like you to pause, to read, then press play to resume.


Okay, now I'm going to read it to you.

The life of Dame Jane Goodall.

Jane Goodall devoted her life to living amongst chimpanzees and studying them in their natural environment.

Interestingly, she made several groundbreaking observations about the social behaviour of chimpanzees, which help people to better understand the evolution of humans.

Read on to find out more about this dedicated animal rights activist and primatologist.

I have underlined a few words there because they are quite tricky and I thought maybe it would be good for us to just go over what they mean.

Groundbreaking, evolution, activist and primatologist.

Groundbreaking, your turn.

It is when you involve new ideas or methods.

Evolution, your turn.

The change in the characteristics of a species over several generations.

That's changing characteristic, could be changing the shape of your beak, if you're a bird obviously, not a human.

It could be the way your skin changes, maybe the fur colour, if you're an animal.


A person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.


A scientist who studies primates, and primates are gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and lemurs.


Now, it is your turn, to find the following features on the right.

I would like you to point to where the title or subheading is.

Where, if there is a relative clause and examples of it written in third person.

Pause the video and have a go.


Hopefully you've had a go.

I found the title, it was The Life of Dame Jane, it's very difficult to say, Dame Jane rhymes, and it's very difficult, Goodall.

So I've highlighted that in the colour that is on the right, it's a sort of turquoise green.

Then I found my relative clause, which I've highlighted in pink, which helped people to better understand the evolution of humans.

And I've picked out some examples of third person, Jane Goodall, her and she, those are examples of the text being written in third person.

I then, I would like you to pause to read this little paragraph, then press play to resume.

Now I'm going to read it to you.

Early life.

Jane Goodall was born on 23rd April 1934 in London, England.

From an early age, Jane loved animals and enjoyed exploring gardens and observing the wildlife she found.

Her family moved around a lot during her childhood, but, no matter where she lived, she was a happy child, fascinated by nature.

Guess what I'm going to get you to do now? Exactly.

I'm going to get you to identify the title or subheading.

This time I want you to think of some key dates, are there any key dates can you see? And again, examples of past tense.

Pause the video and have a go.


So I found, the subheading Early Life.

I've highlighted it in a turquoise colour and in pink I've got a key date that was when she was born the 23rd of April, 1934.

And then examples of past tense said, was, loved, enjoyed, found, moved, lived and was again.

Let's have a go at looking at another paragraph to identify more features.

Pause the video to read and then press play to resume.

Now, I will read it.

Moving to Africa.

After finishing at school, Jane saved all her money and finally achieved her dream of travelling to Africa.

In 1957, at the age of 23, she took an office job in Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, where she worked for a palaeontologist.

During this time, she had the opportunity to research chimpanzee behaviour, which she loves so much that she decided to extend her stay in Africa.

I underlined three words there that I thought might be a bit tricky.

Let's have a look at what they mean.

A palaeontologist, there's a clue.

What's a palaeontologist? You'd probably know.

Could you say it, palaeontologist.

A scientist who studies fossils.

Opportunity, your turn.

What does that mean? It's a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something, okay.


I'm sure you've heard of that one before.

To establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Here's the paragraph that I want you to identify.

The features are there, key dates, time conjunctions and facts.

Pause the video, off you go.

This is what I found.

Key dates I looked through with my magic finger and I found 1957.

Some time I can just say, after finishing school, that was a moment in time.

And I found during this time.

And some facts, I just took one fact, she took an office job in Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, where she worked for a palaeontologist, my fact, but in fact, all of the biography should be facts anyway, but I just took that as my one example.

So evolution.

Do you remember what it means? Let's do a quick check.

Evolution means, the change in the characteristics of the species over a day.

Well the change in the characteristics of a species over several generations.

Point the right answer.

Yes, that's the right one.

It's when an organism, it could be a plant, it could be, an animal.

They change over a long, long, long, long period of time, according to their environment, it's called natural selection.

So they select things in their characteristics that benefit them for living, to their environment.

Well, it's on, okay, we've come to the end of the lesson and you have learnt loads about biographies.

You learned about the features of a biography, and then you identified them in a text about Jane Goodall.

Congratulations, you've come to the end of the lesson.

If you'd like to share your work with a parent or carer, and I look forward to teaching your next lesson.