Click To Download       

Chapter 24--Memoir

Calkins says to begin a memoir study by "inhabiting the genre and living under its influence". She has a great list of books--including picture books--at the end of the chapter to help you and your students do this. Have students respond to the books they read and list the memories keyed by the books in their writer's notebooks. They can develop these further, and find their kernel for a memoir.

A Memoir is all about who the writer "is" -- that's what it should
shout above everything else. It can be expressed through a variety
of genres...a list of questions, a poem, a series of narratives,
etc....She prefers for it to be taught at the end of the year so
there will be a variety of genres that the students have experienced
to use or integrate for a memoir.

A Narrative is a true story (built on a small moment?) with elements
of character, plot, setting, rising action -- all of which could be
plotted on a timeline.

Some ideas for idea gathering for writing memoirs:
**gather ideas from photos (talk about memories inspired by photo, then about the people/places in the photo, etc.) Suggested using Patricia MacLachlan's Journey here.

**Make a plot line of their life, focusing on the relationship with their brother, clarinet, hair, etc. For example, a timeline of your hair could include your first bad haircut, a bad hair day at school, the time you got gum stuck in it, the Halloween dye that didn't wash out, etc.

**Gather moments around a particular moment, tieing in older memories with new ones.

**Find the themes in published memoirs, then apply one of these themes to your life.

Barry Lane's Snapshot lesson would work really well with memoir, as would Fletcher and Portalupi's "Digging Up Buried Stories" lesson. The lesson on digging up buried stories would work particular well when writing a memoir using place as a structure. In this lesson, students draw a map of a special place, such as their backyard, or summer cabin by the lake. After students are done with the map (and it should be a rough map, take approximately 10 minutes to draw). Then students make an X marking a place where a story is buried, where something happened. For instance, the backyard map may have an "X" by the tree where you fell and broke your arm, or it may have an "X" by the tree because that is where you buried your pet hamster, or because it was always base in the game of hide and seek you played. I generally draw a map and share with my kids to give them an idea of what to do. I also find it helpful to have them share with a partner or response group, because
then they can piggyback on one another's ideas. After this, students can begin writing about their map and its "X's in their notebook. These entries can then be nurtured into memoir. They can keep their maps for later when they need an idea to write about, too.

Chapter 25 Literary Non-fiction

Calkins says non-fiction writing should spring from our children's "pockets and backpacks, out of what they see and wonder about and poke into" (432). When we have children write non-fiction, we should draw upon their passions, curiosity, and wonder. Have them bring their collections and hobbies into the classroom. Non-fiction writing will naturally flow from these.

We should marinate our students in good non-fiction literature. Calkins encourages us to include the subsets of the non-fiction genre, things such as brochures, menus, biographies, feature articles, essays, editorials, etc. Encourage children to consider the context of their non-fiction writing, and focus on the subset that best fits their needs.

Barry Lane's book, 51 Wacky We-search Reports has some great lessons for doing non-fiction in a different way.

Non-fiction as a genre study (pg. 436-437):

*Live like nonfiction writers. Use your notebook to gather observations, details, thoughts, and questions about your subject and the nonfiction genre.

*Listen to, collect, share, respond to, sort through, categorize, and study examples of short nonfiction. What are the unique features of nonficiton (point of view, subtitles, charts, photos, illustrations, diagrams, etc.)

*Using a seed idea from your notebook, live and research and write around that idea.

*Look through notebook entries, asking yourself "What will I make of this? How might I shape this? What kind of nonfiction text might I make?"

*Find and share mentor texts. Ask: "How does this affect me? How did the author accomplish their purpose? What can I take from this to help me in my writing?"

*Draft your piece, referring back to lessons and mentor texts for ideas.

*Publish in a nonfiction format most appropriate for your purpose.

*Look back on reading and writing to assess and articulate what you have learned about literary nonfiction.

As with all chapters, there is a great list of suggested books to use in a nonfiction study.

Chapter 26 Theme Studies

Wonder: How do you inspire that sense of wonder, of questioning and inquiry, in your classrooms? Do you have anything specifically and intentionally that you to do inspire these?