With older students, it can be useful to have students complete a reading autobiography at the beginning of the year. This lets you know some of their background experiences with reading, some of their favorite topics, genres, and books, and a bit about their reading level. It is helpful to also write an autobiography yourself. It can be read aloud to students or shared in hard copy. It gives a model of the assignment for students, builds rapport, and shows, in some cases, that all reading experiences may not be good ones. This assignment is a variation of a reading autobiography.
This assignment has two parts. The first part is to reflect on your own reading experiences. The second part is to to think about these experiences with regard to English learners.
Part 1: Answer the following questions about your personal reading experiences:
When did you first learn to read?
What reading experiences stand out for you? High points? Low points?
Who or what supported your reading experiences? Who or what discouraged it?
Were there times in your school/reading experience – or the materials – made you feel like an insider? Like an outsider?
What are the types of things you like to read?
What are the types of things you dislike reading?
In which electronic formats (online, internet, e-reader like a Kindle, iPad, etc.) do you read? Discuss how that is the same/different for you from reading print materials.
Part 2: Answer the following questions with regard to English learners:
Were you a non-native speaker in any of your classroom reading experiences?
If yes, what if any effect did that have on your reading experiences?
If no, how do you think an English learner would do if he/she had the same reading experiences that you did?
How could you use a reading autobiography assignment with English learners? What changes would you make?