How to Write Bio Poems: Teaching Poetry Writing Using Artwork

LESSON ONE: Demonstration

Modeling a Think Aloud

Begin the lesson by displaying a work of art that is "kid-friendly." Tell the class about the artist, so that the students will know some interesting details about the artist's life. Choose your artwork wisely – bright colors, abstract shapes, and creative subject matter all serve to inspire conversation!

Model a think-aloud, discussing your thoughts about the chosen piece. For example, "This painting makes me happy. I think the artist was remembering his childhood when he did this painting. The shapes remind me of balloons and animals – maybe he was remembering going to a county fair!"

Draw a bubble map on the board and write the name of the painting in the center, then words such as "happy, balloons, animals, fair" in the surrounding bubbles. Add more bubbles, and ask the students to share what they think.

Guided Practice – Completing the Graphic Organizer

Take down the "practice" artwork and display a different one. Once again, tell the students some interesting things about the artist. Write the name of the artist, where the artist is from, and the style of art on the board, so students will have a scaffold to work from. Invite small groups of students to come up to the board and study the artwork up close, so they can see the details. Ask if they have questions about anything before they start.

Once everyone is back in their seats, ask students to create their own bubble map with words that they identify with the new piece of art. Choose an artwork that is totally different from the demonstration piece, so students won't be tempted to use the same words from the first bubble map. Students should write at least five things about the artist in their bubbles.

LESSON TWO: Guided Practice – Writing the Demonstration Poem

Provide a poetry template on the board for writing an "About the Artist" poem.

Line 1: (First Name) _________,

Line 2: (Four descriptive Traits [adjectives])____________,

Line 3: Creator of _______,

4: Lover of __________,

5: Who fears________,

6: Who needs _________,

7: Who gives ________,

8: Who would like to _____________,

9: Resident of _________,

10: (Last Name) __________.

Display the original artwork used for the Think-Aloud demonstration on the board. Using the template as a guideline, fill in the blanks with information about the artist. Explain to the students that there are no right or wrong answers for most of the questions – it is their opinion about how the artist feels and thinks.

Incorporate higher-level thinking skills by asking students why they think you chose particular words for your own poem. For example: "Why do you think I said the artist is a lover of nature? Why did I think he would like to have children?" Rewrite the poem, omitting the parts in parentheses.

Erase the words you have inserted into the poetry template, and replace the demonstration artwork with the artwork the students are writing about. Using the poetry template on the board, students will write their own poems on paper.

LESSON THREE – Independent Practice, Student Poems

After the first draft, students will use computers to improve their poems. Using the website Lexipedia (, students can find more creative word choices by typing in the adjectives and verbs that they commonly use and finding synonyms for them.

Once they have written their final draft, students will use computers to revise and write their final bio poems about the artist. They may also copy and paste an image of the artist or the artwork into their page. Once all students are finished and the poems have been printed out, students will share their bio poems with the class and they may be displayed for the rest of the school to enjoy!