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Memoirs Teacher Resources
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Get to know each individual through a memoir project. The lesson outlined here is a bit vague, but has some promising ideas for graphic organizers to help writers prepare their work. In order to succeed with the lesson, you will need to make your own materials, basing them off of the information provided.
A fantastic instructional activity really engages young scholars in critical reading and thoughtful discussion. They read passages from Richard Feynman's "The Making of a Scientist" (published in Cricket Magazine), underline vocabulary, use context for comprehension, and consider how sentences were constructed to convey meaning. They discuss the memoir as a class, and then write a detail driven essay based on specific questions. This is the way to teach kids how to be great readers!
If you are planning a unit on memoir and autobiographical narrative, you should consider this resource. Using Internet research skills, pupils review works by James Frey and Henry David Thoreau. In response to these works, learners become the memoir writers themselves and imitate Thoreau's style in an essay about a place that they retreat to. While the lesson cites a paid resource for research, you might adapt the lesson to include research that does not require the paid resource.
Using chapter 1 of Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed, middle schoolers write a personal memoir based on Spinelli's style and a Six Trait writing activity. The lesson suggests several ways to activate prior knowledge, including a picture book and a Kelly Clarkson song, but a teacher can choose what elements he or she thinks are necessary to the lesson. Word choice and idea development are the focus traits for this activity.
Combine the study of poetry and non-fiction texts with this complete and ready-to-use six-week unit. After reading numerous poems from local writers and compiling a personal anthology, high schoolers find and read a memoir or biography of a chosen poet. As a culminating activity, they each present their poet's life and works as they attempt to answer the guiding question, “How can a poet’s life affect her or his art?”
Start kids thinking about point of view and autobiographies by telling them a short story about your morning (first person), and then asking a volunteer to re-tell the story to you (second person). There are tips to help you tie this anticipatory activity into the nonfiction genre, and kids explore six types of autobiographies using a graphic organizer. They learn about how to identify a book as an autobiography using book features like the back cover summary. There are sample covers included that you can display or hand out, asking kids to look for genre clues. Writers synthesize these concepts by using one of four sentence starters to write a memoir of their own, taking on one of the autobiography types that resonated with them. There are six sample autobiography excerpts included for guided practice. Which words clues readers in to the genre?
Seventh graders explore the life of Gandhi using his autobiography and memoir. In this Gandhi exploration instructional activity, 7th graders analyze Gandhi's literary voice by reading his autobiography. Students identify literary techniques in Gandhi's writing and apply the techniques to complete their own memoirs in a writer's workshop.