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Memoir Lesson Plans

English 1
Red Stream (A)
Yellow Stream (X)
Essential Questions of the Unit
1. What is a memoir and how can writers use descriptive scenes of memory to create a narrative that
effectively conveys a profound message?
2. In what ways are memoirs used to explore themes and conflicts surrounding identity and belonging in
3. How does society create and destroy feelings of belongings for certain identities?
Enduring Understandings of the Unit
Students will understand what major elements comprise a memoir and how writers can use personal
narratives to explore issues in society.
Students will understand the process of writing a memoir, reflecting on their own identities and sense of
belonging in the world.
Students will understand the most effective ways to facilitate discussions of controversial issues.
Students will understand race as a social construction developed by society to separate groups of people
and perpetuate notions of supremacy within dominant society.

Week 1
Day 1- Monday

Students will be introduced to memoir as a genre and understand 5 important elements that define a
Students will begin the process of noticing what shapes their own identities through identity mapping.
Students will reflect on their self-perceptions, they way society views them and how this informs the way
they see themselves in a written reflection of the identity map activity.
Journal Prompt
Printer paper/Markers for Identity Maps
PPT Slides on Memoir/Notetaking Handout
Identity Map Instructions
Canvas HW Assignment
Opening- 15 minutes
(15) Journal- Describe one of your favorite scenes of memory from your childhood. Why was this moment
significant/interesting for you?
Give students 8 minutes to write and 7 minutes to discuss/share as a class
Body- 45 minutes
(10) Elements of a Memoir
Present via
Memoir PPT
and students should take notes on h
Identity Maps
- C
reate your own Identity Map to share/model with students
Have students draw an image of themselves and label the inside of the body with adjectives, roles,
interests, passions, hobbies, ambitions, etc. that best describe who they are.
Once students have that down, instruct them to illustrate/record characteristics that society imposes on
them on the outside of their body. How do people see you? What do they expect from you?

Students should present/share their identity map with 3 other students in the room, who should write one
thing they found interesting on the back of each map they view.
Closure- 5 minutes
(5) Explain HW assignment- Reflect on the identity map activity from class. While mapping your identity, what
themes emerged for you? What themes emerged? Peer comments? How much of our identity is shaped by the way
people perceive us? 300 word response to Canvas due Tuesday by 8:15am.

Journal Entry- Gauges student ability to write scenes of memory
Identity Maps/Reflection- Gauges student ability to analyze major themes of the unit
There should not be any major accommodations for Day 1 of the unit. Slower notetakers will have time at the end
of class to catch up with their notes and whatever students do not finish, they can complete it at home for

Week 3
Day 2- Tuesday

After returning from a long holiday weekend, students will get back into the swing of class discussion by
beginning the class analyzing a thought provoking, student-centered spoken word piece that highlights
issues teens face in todays society. Rather than the teacher
leading discussion of the major ideas in this poem, students will pose questions to their peers, using our
classroom discussion rules (listen patiently, listen actively, and police your voice) to guide the
Students will receive feedback from their first book club meetings last week and consider how they may
improve their discussions for todays meeting.
Students will partake in their 3rd book club meeting in their respective reading groups, discussing the
content of their novels, while practicing good discussion techniques.

Somewhere in America
Spoken Word Video
Students should have their laptops, books, and any other necessary materials for book club
Opening- 25 minutes
Journal Discussion Activity-
Somewhere in America

Introduce the spoken word piece as teens who share their stories/experiences by examining daily
conflicts that shape their lives and their identities. R
elate this idea to memoir and the themes of
identity and belonging that we are studying.
Play the video twice. Prior to the 2nd time, instruct students to list three interesting ideas
surrounding conflicts that affect ones sense of identity and belonging.
Students will share these ideas with a partner and come up with a discussion question to pose to
the class about issues teenagers face in our schools and in society.
Teacher should model an
example of good questions to pose. and how to do this effectively.
Call on pairs of students to pose their question to the class, leading a short discussion of these
Body- 35 minutes

(5) Reading Group of the Week

The SATs (student assistant teachers) have selected one particular reading group that did an
exceptional job with book club last week. The SAT will give that group a shoutout in front of the
class, recognizing the great work they accomplished.
(5) Book Club Expectations
Teacher should also compliment students on a job well done, referencing how well many students
followed our class discussion rules (listen patiently, listen actively, and police your voice) in last
weeks book club meetings.
Teacher should give reminders that:
Discussions should take the entire 30 minutes
All students should come prepared with completed
job sheets
to discuss
Each reading group should use their time wisely and be sure to record their entire
(30) Book Club
Students will break off into their respective reading groups to meet in their book clubs for the
remainder of class.
For the full description and instructions for book club, please
click here
Closure- 5 minutes
Teacher should give a 5 minute warning prior to the end of class to notify students that they should be
wrapping up their conversations.
2-3 minutes before the end of class, make have they groups that went in the hallways to meet rejoin the
group, provide last minute reminders about the Canvas Crusaders responsibility to submit job sheets and
audio by tonight at 10pm, put journals ways, and dismiss the class.
Journal Entry- The list of 3 interesting ideas/conflicts that emerged from the piece
Journal Activity Discussion- The expectation is that each student participates by contributing a thought or
posing a question
Book Club- Students evaluate one another and receive a grade for submitting job sheets and participating
in reading group discussions.
There should not be any major accommodations needed for todays lesson, but the fact that students will be
working in partners to develop and pose a discussion question will help students who struggle a bit with
participation to lean on a peer to polish their thoughts and present them. I may have students develop their
question in pairs and then send one person from each pair to write their question on the board. When its time to
discuss, I will use the popsicle sticks to randomly call a name and read and explain their question to the class. By
having everyone place their questions on the board, it shows that in some way, each student has participated
(because we clearly wont get to all of the questions) and we are recognizing and validating each students
contribution in some way.

Week 7
Day 1- Monday

Students will continue their work with memoir writing workshops by exploring different ways to capture
an audiences attention with an engaging opening to their vignette.
Students will practice beginning a narrative with an action, dialogue, and a thought/feeling and will share
their work with peers for feedback.
Students will pick one of the ways they chose to write a story and develop that story further as a potential
topic for their memoir vignette.
Journal Prompt
How to Start a Story Handout
Memoir Proposal Assignment on Canvas
Opening- 25 minutes
(10) Journal- If you could create any invention in the world, what would it be? How would it work and
why is it useful? Create a tagline for your product!
(15) Pitching Your Product Speed Dating Style.
Have students stand up and form two lines facing one another (like speed dating!). They have 20
seconds to pitch their genius idea to the person (a potential investor) standing opposite of them.
They should use an engaging opening to get the investors attention ASAP!
Discussion and share tactics for grabbing the audiences attention
Other Scenarios to Try:
Your train is about to leave, you lost your pass, you have no cash, and you need to ask a
stranger for a token. Give them your sob story in 15 seconds to get where you need to be!
Body- 30 minutes
How to Start a Story
(5) Read and Review handout as a class
(15) Use an Indelible Moment to start a new story 3 different ways (~3 short paragraphs)
(10) Share with a Partner for Feedback-Students may naturally be drawn to a particular way they
began their story, but they should read each to their partner and allow their partner to give them
feedback on which worked best (in their opinion) and why.
Closure- 10 minutes
(5) Reconvene and Reflect
(5) Explain Memoir Proposal Assignment on Canvas- Short writing assignment that challenges students to
narrow down their topics for their final writing piece.
Journal- Challenges students to consider how to craft an engaging opening to sell their story
How to Start a Story Review- Gauges student understanding of different style techniques used to start a
Indelible Moment Writing Activity- Evaluates student understanding of writing techniques via practical

There should not be any major accommodations needed for todays lesson. But students will collaborate to
provide feedback on one anothers writing. This way, higher skilled writers can support lower skilled writers by
making suggestions for more interesting openings.
Day 2- Tuesday

Students will analyze a popular music video with a powerful message to examine the use of imagery in
conveying meaning.
Students will partake in an activity that requires them to use figurative language to best illustrate a story.
Students will create their own story using figurative language to vividly describe the setting, a character, or
a specific experience from an indelible moments story.*
Music Video
16 images/Blank paper
PPT slides with Figurative Language Review (definitions and examples of metaphor, simile,
personification, hyperbole, and allusion)
PPT slides with instructions for activities
*Indelible Moments is an activity we completed last week, where students made a long list of unforgettable
moments that have a significant story behind them.
Opening- 20 minutes
Freedom by Pharrell Video Analysis
This video is a great example of how imagery can be used effectively to tell a story and create a powerful
(5) Students watch once and make a list in their journals of images that stand out to them.
(5) Discuss with a partner- What messages can we take away from the many images in this video?
Share Ideas as a Class
(10) Watch the video a second time and have students call out STOP! when they want to pause
on an image they found interesting There are a few images the teacher is prepared to stop on,
too. (Some historical allusions) Discuss these images and their effect as a class.
Body- 25 minutes
(5) Figurative Language Quick Review
Quickly review the 5 figurative language uses we discussed in class last week (students can read the
definition and examples)
(20) Illustrate the Story using Figurative Language
Students should break into pairs and sit back to back. Each student will receive a copy of an image
they must describe to their partner only using figurative language and that partner must draw it as
accurately as possible! Each student will have an opportunity to describe an image using figurative
Share examples with the class. What was challenging? What worked well? What examples of
figurative language did you use to best capture the story behind your image?
Closure- 20 minutes
Creating Imagery through Figurative Language
(15) Pick a new indelible moment from your list. Use at least 1 example of metaphor, simile,
allusion, personification, and hyperbole to best illustrate the setting, a character, or a particular

(5) Share as a Class

Discussion of music video
Illustrate the Story activity- Students should be able to effectively describe their photo using the five
different forms of figurative language we discussed in class.
Indelible Moments writing activity- students should be able to write their own story using imagery to
vividly depict a significant moment.
There should not be any major accommodations needed for todays lesson. But the fact that students will be
working in groups, should encourage them to work together to accomplish the task collaboratively. In this way,
stronger students can support weaker students through each activity.

Day 3- Wednesday
& Friday
Students will reflect on the quality of their writing and find ways to make it more intriguing and detailed
by using dialogue.
Students will review three different way they can use dialogue in their writing to paint a more vivid picture
of their narrative.
Students will continue developing their sample writing pieces using the skills they have acquired
throughout the memoir writing workshops, creating detailed stories that may be featured in their memoir
Journal Prompt
Writing Good Dialogue Handout
Opening- 20 minutes
(20) Journal- Take a mental screenshot of a recent text conversation that was super shallow.... Bring life to
it by re-writing the conversation, adding interesting details to create a story!
Teacher should provide an example of her own screenshot to share and analyze :)
Body- 35 minutes
Writing Good Dialogue
(Just use page 1)
Review the three ways dialogue can be used to enhance writing. Have students read and discuss the
examples as a class.
(25) Display 3 images on the screen and have students write a short dialogue exchange in the three ways
featured in the handout (shows relationship between characters, moves story forward, and creates tension)
different way.
Share and Discuss student examples as a class
Closure- 10 minutes
(10) Spend Time on Proposal- Review what is needed
Writing Good Dialogue Discussion
Dialogue Writing Activity

There should not be any major accommodations needed for todays lesson. But the fact that students will be
working in groups, should encourage them to work together to accomplish the task collaboratively. In this way,
stronger students can support weaker students through each activity.