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Memoir: Seeking Honesty, Beauty & Bravery (alongside our students)

October 12, 2010

Tomorrow we start Memoir. My current favorite of favorites.

That means if I’m to do this well.. If I’m to seek honesty and chase beauty like I will charge my kids to do, I’m going to have to write about Grandma.

That scares me.

I can write about the songs. The porch swings and the stories in the rain. I can write about the way she curled my hair with her fingers while she sang to me, but I don’t know if I’m ready to write about the last years. My grandma stories end at age 8.  But if I’m brave like I ask my kids to be -like a writer has to be- I have to write the grandma stories at 14.

Those are the ones I’m scared to write.

The ones I’ve never written.

I am notoriously vulnerable in my models. Honest. Heart-breaking sometimes, but I’ve never written about this, these untouched territories.

But. . .  no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader, right? That is the truth I will carry with me, their teacher, in this unit. Perhaps I’ll write through it all here.


Today we immersed ourselves in the genre of Memoir by reading lots of it and collectively defining memior.

-Memory of a significant moment + Reflection

Tomorrow, we begin brainstorming.

The week’s lesson are below. I’m (loosely) setting a goal to post here alongside my students through these lessons. 🙂

  • Writers write the moments that matter.  We can find the moments that matter in our lives by thinking about the issues that kids face, and finding the ones that belong to us.

*We will generate chart of issues…circle the ones that matter to US.  Circle the ones that are really big for me a couple of times.   (Go to issues/moments/people chart)      We can think about moments and people that are attached to those issues. We think, “Which one can I write fast and furiously about right now?” Then we go write that one!

  • We can find moments that matter in our lives by thinking about the ‘icky’ stuff.  What are the moments that you DON’T like to remember?  Writers push themselves to figure out why those memories bring up the ick.  (Mid-workshop:  take a colored pencil… in the margin, stop to reflect:  why does this experience bother you?  How did you feel then?  How do you feel about it now?  WHY don’t I like to remember this?  What does this teach me about myself?”
  • Writers bring an artifact, picture, or memory to our notebooks.  We can describe that image (and tape it in/draw it) and then think, “WHEN was the time that this _____ really began to matter?”  -Write long the story of that moment!
  • Writers can sometimes rely on the magic of a particularly powerful piece to rub off within our own work.  (Mentor text/inspiration day).



One Comment leave one →
  1. October 13, 2010 11:56 am

    I love teaching memoir, too. We begin tomorrow with a stack of mentor texts and lots of discussion. I can’t wait!

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