Memoir Writing: Reflecting on Life-Changing Experiences

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SWBAT develop real experiences using effective technique and well-chosen details by writing a memoir describing an experience that changed them.

Big Idea

Reflecting on life experience through writing is food for the soul, even for teenagers.

Warm Up

5 minutes

Today students are writing an on demand narrative essay.  We are near the end of the year and students should be confident in narrative writing.  They have already done the prewriting for this task, so I begin class with asking them to get it out.  In a previous class, during first semester, students wrote about experiences that have changed them.  

Once students get their prewriting out, I ask them to read what they have previously written and add anything to it they would like.  

Student Work Time

55 minutes

I distribute the prompt:

Recently you read a memoir by Alice Walker which describes a realization she had based on a traumatizing experience.  She explained how she felt before the experience, during and after.  Today, you're going to do the same thing.  I want you to think about an experience you have had, which has changed your values and/or outlook on life (W.9-10.3a). Be sure to use narrative techniques such as dialogue and description to develop experiences and characters (W.9-10.3b).  

Be sure to take time to read what you have written and revise your writing focusing on what is most significant for a narrative text (W.9-10.5). Also be sure you pay attention to the Four-Point Scoring Rubric.


After I distribute the prompt, I will let the students work.  


Invite your readers to enjoy your memoir

10 minutes

With ten minutes left in class, I ask students to write a letter to their reader.  I ask them to do this because reflection is important to students thinking critically about their writing.  I tell them:

Now that your writing is complete, please get out a separate piece of paper and write a Letter to my reader inviting them to enjoy your narrative.  In this letter, explain why you chose the subject you did.  Also explain what part of your memoir you like the best and why.  

As students leave, I'll collect their memoir with their letter stapled on top.