With this unit, I wanted to help my students move from narrative writing to a more personal, inward exploration through words. Memoir writing is great because it engages the writer where he or she is and our pasts are ripe for searching out ideas. Memoir writing also fits within the Common Core standards and will still help prepare students for narrative writing or personal writing found on high-stakes tests.
However, this writing felt very authentic to my students, and they absolutely loved it. I will tell you that on many of my students’ final drafts I wrote, “This is the best writing I have ever seen from you.” I know that you will see similar results.
In this unit, you will find the Common Core aligned standards for grades 6-8 (though it could be adapted for grades 4 and 5 with a modified anchor text like “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros or
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say – while “Eleven” may not be a true memoir, it evokes the same feeling), a complete and thorough unit plan, day by day teaching guide, questions for “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan and reading rubric, an answer key, a memoir memory walk to help students brainstorm, a sensory exploration and more. You have everything you need here to teach a successful memoir unit in your classroom.
The rubric in this unit ONLY focuses on three things. While I did comment on things like grammar or spelling if they were totally egregious in the work, I found that having the students really
narrow their focus helped them to do really well in those specific areas. Then, later they were able to apply those to other writing in which I assessed other areas.
If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached easily at email@example.com or through the ask a question feature on this site.
The work that my students created in this unit was absolutely beautiful. At turns, it was exciting, memorable, sad, and poignant. Not only did my students learn more about the craft of writing but we learned more about each other. I hope that you and your students love this unit.
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