Leaving My Footprint: A Mini-Memoir Writing Unit {7-12 ELA}

Leaving My Footprint:  A Mini-Memoir Writing Unit {7-12 ELA}
Leaving My Footprint:  A Mini-Memoir Writing Unit {7-12 ELA}
Leaving My Footprint:  A Mini-Memoir Writing Unit {7-12 ELA}
Leaving My Footprint:  A Mini-Memoir Writing Unit {7-12 ELA}
Common Core State Standards
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Reading and writing memoir are powerful ways to have students experiment with narrative writing and have a chance to explore some groundbreaking nonfiction reading.  Whether your students are in the midst of a literature circles unit or wrapping up a great novel, have you considered adding a memoir writing element to your curriculum?

This mini unit is designed around a metaphor:  the footprint. They’re what we leave behind us, no matter how muddy, messy, small, or imperfect, and that’s our legacy.  Metaphors like these resonate with teenagers and they’re a strong way to help students make connections to the literature and the nonfiction that they’re reading.  This unit focuses on the idea of how writing a memoir is a way of recording one’s legacy. Here’s how the mini-unit works:

Structure:  This unit could be a capstone writing event for the end or a unit or it could stand alone in between novel units - that’s up to you!  Some ways I’ve used it in the past include:

    1. Matching the idea of LEGACY with a great novel or character that also leaves behind an unmistakable mark on the literature scene.  Consider: The Great Gatsby, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, PT Barnum of The Greatest Showman, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, any heroes in the context of Greek or Roman mythology,
    2. The same can be done with great nonfiction texts such as:  Into the Wild, The Glass Castle, A Long Way from Water, March, The 57 Bus, and so many more!
    3. Use this unit as a capstone for the end of the school year.  Have students write about their legacy in your school - what are they leaving behind as they move on to the next grade level?  Are they creating the legacy for themselves that they’re proud of?

Lessons Included:

  • Printable quote poster for your classroom (PDF)
  • Lesson #1:  Defining Legacy and Speed Dating Party:  
    • Take your students through some informal research on famous individuals (fictional and historical) that have left a legacy that is widely known.  Then, have the students BECOME those individuals and “meet” each other at a speed dating party in your classroom!
    • Lesson Plan
    • Defining Legacy - Background Activity (Google Slides - editable)
    • Student Handout (Google Doc - editable)

  • Lesson #2:  Writing a Memoir with Mentor Texts
    • Now, get down to business.  Start writing. With mentor texts to use on the front end, students are supported with handouts through the writing process from brainstorming, outlining, to drafting.
    • Lesson Plan
    • Writing Memoir:  Mentor Text Excerpts (Google Slides - editable)
    • Student Handout (Google Doc - editable)

  • My Footprints...My Legacy (coloring activity for room decor/bulletin board)
  • YouTube playlist of suggested videos to use

What makes this unit special:

The handouts in this unit are sparse, but the lesson plans are thorough.  Use your talents, your current curriculum, your current texts, and the imagination of your students to make your mark on this unit.  I’ve left most ever handout to be EDITABLE by you in Google Docs or Slides, so enjoy the freedom to make changes and make this unit your own.  

This makes for a really strong and unifying way to end the school year, especially for grade levels that are finishing at a school and moving on (8th or 12th grade).  wavesofdealshs 


If you love trying new, adventurous teaching ideas, I'd love for you to join me in The Adventurous Teaching Academy on Facebook. We're a growing community of teachers supporting teachers who love to take risks and try new things in their classrooms.  You can also find me sharing ideas and stories regularly on Instagram @mudandinkteaching


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Total Pages
35 pages
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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