Memory Map Personal Narratives

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TSWBAT write a personal narrative with descriptive details and clear event sequences using the memory map graphic organizer.

Big Idea

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end.

Warm Up

15 minutes

Sequencing is the process of logically putting ideas, events, and things in order.  Students become better readers and writers when they're able to do so successfully.  I begin the lesson by asking the kids, a basic question: "What types of things can be sequenced?" A suggestion is offered immediately, 'a person's life.' In addition to being an ideal example, I'm pleased because they sequenced events of their own life the day before, and are relating it to this new conversation. It's always satisfying to hear the answers you expect.  Not every lesson gives that payback!  

On the Smart Board, I pull up the page with the Timeline Graphic Organizer. I've prepared an example of a timeline using eight events from my life: born in 1967lost at Hershey Park at age sevenplayed field hockey in middle school, cheerleader in high school, went to Shippensburg University, moved to AZ in August 1993, Arkansas State Sign from my Timeline story, married and kids by 2004, became their teacher 2013.  I discuss the events listed in the Timeline in two categories: items that would be easy to develop a written memory around (i.e. moving to AZ); or items that aren't a good idea (i.e. day of birth.) (Discussing TImeline Components as Topics). They wrote timelines of life events yesterday, though they didn't know why. Now they determine which ones are good candidates for writing, and also include new ideas that may come to mind (Creating Timelines). I encourage them to talk while they're doing this (Discussing Timeline Ideas with Group) and get opinions about what would make a great writing topic.

Student Examples of Timeline Analysis I

Student Examples of Timeline Analysis II

Student Examples of Timeline Analysis III


30 minutes

Next, I give them an example of how to use their timeline. I pick a year from the list and focus on the specific memory from that time. For example, I choose the year 1993 and my move to Arizona.  My plan is to create a memory map of that day (Memory Maps Planning Sheet I Smart Board example). I indicate the bulletin board in the back of the room, What are Memory Maps? Bulletin Board and a few volunteers share their thoughts.  After discussion, I confirm and/or clarify their ideas about memory maps: a way to organize a memory by using events about the time in a graphic organizer which will eventually aid in writing a personal narrative.  My students will complete this activity at a higher level in 6th grade so I like to familiarize them with it now.  I pass out the two planning sheets: Memory Map Planning Sheet I and Memory Map Planning Sheet II.

Independently, the kids will now begin the creation of their own:  Beginning Planning Sheets

I first show my filled out planning sheet on the Smart Board with the example of moving to Arizona (Memory Maps Planning Sheet II Smart Board example). They can see the progression of what they will write when they fill out their own Planning Sheet.  I purposely put the sheet on two separate pages rather than back to back for ease of use.  This Planning Sheet prompts them to select a memorable experience they would be willing to share with their classmates (Looking critically at timeline for ideas).  It should be an incident they remember well. The next step is to think back and determine what happened at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the experience.  For each of these, they should write down at least three events (Student uses timeline with planning sheet)

Next, they think about details within each event.  


Assembling the Memory Map

20 minutes

The students have given thought to the details of the beginning, middle, and end of their experience, and now it's time for them to put their chosen experience in an organized format.  They begin to compose a narrative. They find it easier to create the narrative this way rather than writing off the top of their head, or doing minimal preparation with brainstorming.

Title: They use or adapt Part 1 of their Planning Sheet which is the idea they wrote down.

Paragraph I: The introduction to experience.

Paragraph II: Events at the Beginning which include the setting, the people who were there, the author's feelings.

Paragraph III: Events in the Middle including the events as they happened, what the author and other people were doing at the time of each, author's feelings. Hard at work!

Paragraph IV: Events at the End of the experience which will bring it to a conclusion (negating a fifth paragraph and formal conclusion.)  This part will signify how the event ended and what the author discovered or realized from this experience.

Once the students get going, they are pleased with how easily this narrative writes itself (Writing Narratives). I move around the room monitoring their progress and making sure that certain students are giving full effort (as opposed to leaving out details in hopes of an early completion.)

When these first draft narratives are turned in, they must include the Planning Sheet (Writing Narrative). I have the kids staple the first draft on top of the Planning Sheet and then their final will be stapled on top of the first draft.  This way, the students have a complete picture of their writing process.


15 minutes

An important part of this writing procedure is giving the students an opportunity to share their Memory Map pages with a partner (Sharing Narratives with the Group).This is true even if they're not yet finished with their writing (Stopping Midway to Share Narratives). It allows them the opportunity to give, and receive important feedback as they're going through the process. 

Once the writing is completed, they may share their Memory Map Narrative with the class (Student Presenting his Narrative). This can be done through reading the narratives they composed.  An extended idea is to create a visual display, or even get a couple of friends to help them act it out.  Putting any option (within reason) on the table is a great way to get the students' creative juices flowing and they come up with amazing ideas. I like to hang the completed Memory Maps on the bulletin board so the kids can come up and browse when they have a chance (Memory Maps Bulletin Board w/Student Work).

Memory Map Narrative pg 1

Memory Map Narrative/Planning Sheet pg 2

Planning Sheet and Narrative side by side pg 1

Planning Sheet Detailed and Narrative side by side pg 2