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- Jadeline M., Teacher
Memoirs Teacher Resources
Find teacher approved Memoirs educational resource ideas and activities
Encourage your middle and high schoolers to share their memories of a recent event. After reading a New York Times article, they discuss Elie Wiesel's memoir, Night. They write their own memoir about a significant event that affected their school or community. Using the Internet, they gather evidence that supports their view and write a final draft of their narrative.
Third, fourth, and fifth graders explore characteristics of a memoir. They identify cause and effect relationships and visualize. Learners also reflect in a journal about the book Woodsong by Gary Paulsen, and how they would deal with situations in a book. They finish by writing their own memoirs.
What is a memoir? What makes a memoir special? Encourage your young writers to create their own memoirs based on a memory they have. First, they discuss chapter one of the book Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli, and they talk about the memoir created. Then they create their own, focusing on word choice.
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.
Explore the concept of literal and figurative language in this language arts language lesson. After reading an excerpt from Gary Paulsen's memoir, middle schoolers then classify the information in the memoir by drawing conclusions, inferring information, and identifying literal or figurative language.
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?
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 plan cites a paid resource for research, you might adapt the lesson plan to include research that does not require the paid resource.
Has your school or community been subjected to any unbelievable or traumatizing event recently? Middle and high schoolers will discuss the event, write a short, personal memoir, and then compare their memoirs with others. Everyone has a unique viewpoint after an event shakes a community.
A fantastic lesson 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!
Are you working on an autobiographical or narrative writing unit? Bring this lesson to your class, as it takes young writers through the process of drafting and sequencing an autobiography. After observing and demonstrating steps of the writing process, they read and discuss examples of poetry, and write a letter to themselves. Additional activities include reading a passage from a memoir, creating a friendship graffiti wall, and writing about an adventure.