Recently, I attended a workshop about writing memoirs with kids by slam poet, performer and educator, Michael Salinger. This guys is fun to watch. He’s a natural performer and very engaging. Next year our school has invited both him and his wife, Sara Holbrook, to come lead a student and teacher writing workshop. Below is the Memoirs lesson plan.
1. Share a story of your own first. I like telling the tale of when I was twelve years old and went on a motorcycle campout with my friends.
2. Ask students to share a story aloud to a partner. Listen for that most important “golden” line.
Example: “He was the same officer that gave me a ticket the week before.”
3. Divide paper into three parts. Shape the graphic organizer like a T.
4. Put the line your partner thought was the most important at the top of the paper.Make sure you are working on your own story!
5. At the top of the graphic organizer draw a picture of where your story happened, focusing on the most important scene. Label two colors and add extra details. Make sure you are working on your own story!
6. Ask the students questions about their story. Write the details of the events on the left side of the organizer (see below).
- What time of year did your event take place?
- What was the time of day?
- How long did the event last?
- What was the weather like?
- What was the temperature like?
- What was the light source?
- What were the background noises?
- What person or object witnessed this event?
- What did not happen that could have happened?
- What changed?
- What other event was happening at the same time (concurrent) as your story?
- What would you have done differently?
7. Ask the students questions about their character. Write the details of the events on the right side of the organizer (see below).
- What animal would you compare the character to?
- What thing would you compare the character to?
- What was the character wearing?
- What force of nature would you compare the character to?
- List two words to describe that force of nature.
- What sounds would you hear from that force of nature?
- List two words of how they move.
- What was surprising about your character?
- Compare their face to something else.
8. Start memoir with the most important line. Write for 10 minutes
9. Ask student to read their story aloud at the same time. Then ask students to share their draft with a partner.
10. Begin writing process.