How'd he do that? Comparing Written Memoir to Graphic Memoir

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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.


10 minutes

My teaching partner and I traded some time today so that we can dive into the written memoirs and move ahead with the writing portion of this unit. As it is a shortened schedule on Wednesdays, having the whole block means I have about 60 minutes of class time to work with.

We will start class with our ten minutes of reading and then dive right into memoir study.

Defining Memoir

10 minutes

As we have spent the past two weeks reading Persepolis, which is a graphic memoir, I think it is important for the students to spend some time with written memoir so they can see what the similarities and differences are as they prepare to write their own memoirs in future lessons.

I will start this lesson by having them brainstorm elements of memoir and writing terms on the board that are important to take note of (L.9-10.6).

The terms/ideas I am most concerned with are:

  • Memoir Structure
  • Dichotomy
  • Characterization
  • Narrative Structure
  • Imagery

The students have had a lot of exposure to these ideas as we've read and discussed Persepolis, so hopefully they will be able to make the transfer and speak with some expertise about how authors use these techniques in written memoir as well. 

Whole Class Close Reading: "Me Talk Pretty One Day"

20 minutes

I will read the essay, "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris out loud. With a text that relies on sound gags for humor, I think it will help the students to understand how he is playing with language if they hear it.

While I am reading, I will ask students to annotate photocopies of the text for the author's purpose, any dichotomies they see/hear and elements of craft, such as tone, theme and word choice, that stand out to them (RL.9-10.2 and RL.9-10.4). 

Think/Pair/Share on Sedaris' techniques

15 minutes

Once we have finished reading the text, I will have students answer the questions for this text in the spaces provided in the reading guide. I will then do a think/pair/share style discussion, where students will discuss ideas with their neighbors and then respond via being randomly called on (I have a class set of Popsicle sticks with their names on them for just such occasions). We will work our way through all of the questions in this manner (SL.9-10.1).

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I will ask the students to return to their initial notes on memoir from the beginning of class and reflect on what Sedaris was doing that they'd like to try in their own writing.