In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy, process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy (shout out to Cornelius Minor, our school's trainer for this idea of how to present lessons).
Connect: I will say,“Yesterday we practiced being detailed in our writing, today we are going to study how authors use details to structure meaningful stories from their lives.”
Teach: I will say,“Today we are going to start a unit on memoirs. Memoirs are short meaningful stories from people’s lives that include a reflection. A reflection is when new thinking occurs based on an experience.” (Give an example from your life in which you reflected on something that you learned. You can also have the students turn and talk about a time they learned something).
“There is very funny book called Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (can show book cover but I don’t believe it is appropriate for this age). In this book the author, David Sedaris, recounts true stories from his childhood. This book is a memoir.
I am going to practice the skill of using a piece from a published author to inform my own knowledge of how to structure a memoir, in other words using the text as a mentor. I am going to use the strategy of reading and annotating (taking notes on my thinking next to the text detail) the text based on questions I am going to keep in my head. The process I will use is:
1) Read the text
2) Ask myself: What do I notice about this type of writing?
3) Annotate or takes notes on what I notice.”
I will then read the first page and a half and model my own thinking. The attached resource illustrates that I show students memoirs start with an anecdote and a reflection of what the author thought about an aspect of their life. This short clip shows how I annotate the text in front of the students.The memoir then continues with the anecdote and reflections embedded throughout. The conclusion of a memoir is a reflection with new insight the author has about their life.
Active Engagement: I will say,“I am now going to read the rest of the story and then you will turn and talk to your partner (this part is marked on the text). I want you to hold one question in your head; What do I notice about this type of writing?” I will check for understanding by asking every level of learner (at least 3 students: one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard).
I will ensure students are noticing the author used important details to convey the message from the introduction and that they are using the word “reflection.”
Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember, successful writers practice the skill of using a piece from a published author to inform their knowledge of how to write; in other words using they use the text as a mentor. They practice the strategy of reading and annotating the text based on questions they keep in their head.
Through this process we discovered that memoirs are short meaningful stories from people’s lives that include a reflection. Memoirs start with an anecdote and a reflection of what the author thought about an aspect of their life. The memoir then continues with the anecdote and reflections embedded throughout. The conclusion of a memoir is a reflection with new insight the author has about their life.
Writers you are now going to read an excerpt, or part of an amazing memoir called Black Boy by Richard Wright (can show book cover if you have book, or web picture of cover). In this book he recounts true stories from his childhood in Mississippi in the early 1900’s. I want you to jot down at least four times answers to, “What do I notice about this type of writing?””
Independent Practice: Students will independently read the excerpt and annotate the text. I will walk around and confer with students around their annotations using possible conferences for finding the structure of a memoir sheet and the attached resource shows where I want students to notice how the memoir started with an anecdote and has reflections embedded throughout.
Partner Work: Students will be directed to turn and talk to their partner about the notes they wrote down. I will say, “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A you will share two notes that show your best thinking. Partner B, you will respond with, “I also annotated that part” Or “I jotted down something else for that part.”Then you will switch.
I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an exit in which students write down the response to a question.
Closing: What did you learn about memoir writing today? What kinds of things do authors use when they are structuring a memoir?