How'd he do that? Memoir Style Stations

15 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT demonstrate comprehension of literary nonfiction as it appears in multiple formats by discussing similarities and difference between Persepolis and other mentor texts.

Big Idea

We've spent two weeks looking at a graphic memoir--now it's time to see how other writers use imagery to teach us their life lessons.

SSR and SSR Reflection

15 minutes

Today will be my first official, summative assessment of their choice reading.

My school splits the gradebook between formative (20%) and summative (80%) grades. Each common course team (grade level by subject area) is responsible for determining what will go in each category and we are required by our administration to have the same summative assessments in all our gradebooks.

My common course team decided that we wanted bi-weekly, reflective assessments on the students reading. For this first one, we are only asking them to talk about their goals and the book they are reading in general terms. We will develop more specific questions for future assessments.

Given all of our thinking about the purpose of choice reading, my team and I agree that this is a continuation of the scaffolding from the 9th grade CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10 reading standard and will allow our 10th grade students more success with the independent and proficient reading they will be required to do with our class novels over the course of the year.

Memoir Stations Overview

5 minutes

I will ask the students to pull out their note-catchers (they are on the back of the assignment sheet from yesterday's David Sedaris activity) and talk about what they should look for when reading the additional memoirs, mainly aspects of the authors' craft and/or how each author shares his or her purpose/message (RI.9-10.5).

I will remind them that we are looking at these written texts because they will eventually be required to write their own memoir. I want them to see these texts as models for building a tool box for their own writing and tell them that I will be looking for specific details and textual support for their interpretations of these pieces of narrative non-fiction (RI.9-10.1).

Memoir Stations

25 minutes

Once the students are clear on their requirements for the day, I will ask them to join their table groups, which we call Faulkner squares (arranged by location in the room--these are groups of 3 or 4). They will then have the remainder of the time to read the following passages and fill in their note-catchers.

  • Excerpts from The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson: I use the a few pages form the first chapter where Bryson describes his mother's cooking. This is a great passage for kids to see how imagery can be much more than visual and is, as is typical of Bryson's style, very funny. 
  • Excerpts from Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abagnale: I use the first few pages of the book where the author introduces himself and his story. I use this section because I like how it shows students that in a memoir, you, as the writer, can be a character, not just a narrator. 
  •  "I just want to be Average" by Mike Rose: I live this essay because it shows a great lesson learned. 
  •  "A Grown-up Barbie" by Jill Hamill: I love this essay for many reasons, but for this lesson, I like to use it because I think it shows how a memoir can teach a universal lesson, which I hope some of my students will try to do in their own writing. 

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

At the end of class, I will ask students to share out their observations of the texts and make a list of possible tools/techniques they want to use in their own memoir writing. I will collect their sheets and ask them to move desks back into rows before I dismiss them.