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A Suggestion for Units on Writing Narratives/Memoirs
Teaching students to write about their own memories? Here's a mentor text suggestion:

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Lisa Larson has been a Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultant since 2009. She teaches middle school in Reno, Nevada.

Lisa keeps a personal portfolio of work here at WritingFix.

Here's an idea from a fellow teacher:

Unoffical Rule Lists for Launching a Memoir

This review/activity was generously shared with us by Nevada teacher
Lisa Larson
during an
NNWP-sponsored inservice class

on narrative and memoir.

There are many marvelous "mentor texts" that can be used when teaching a unit on narrative or memoir. The review of the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and the activity on this page were written by a Nevada teacher during an in-service class for teachers sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project.

Are you a fan of WritingFix? Use this link to purchase The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from and WritingFix will receive a small donation to help us continue posting resources.

Washoe County teachers, click here to search for this title at the county library.

A Review of this Book & an Activity Suggestion:

In his book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie paints a picture of what it is like to live in between two very different worlds; the world of white people and that of the Indian Reservation.

One of my favorite parts in the story is “The Unofficial and Unwritten Spokane Indian Rules of Fisticuffs.” Here, Alexie lists the rules that all Indian boys know about fighting. I enjoy discussing these Rules with my students, as well as the description of the fight afterwards and how there are so many unofficial rules in our society.

These Unspoken Rules are a good starting point for discussing the unofficial rules about life (e.g. eating your vegetables, coloring inside the lines, going to bed early). The students share their ideas and then write their own set of rules for a specific situation or event in their life. This set of rules could easily become the basis of a memoir or personal narrative.

Teacher’s Note: Review the text carefully, before sharing it with your students. Alexie is carefree with the curse words and some of the content may be objectionable. This book is not appropriate for a younger audience unless you share it as a read-aloud where you can edit the school-inappropriate sections. Don’t let this scare you, it’s a wonderful book, just proceed with caution.

Looking for complete writing lessons based on chapter books? Have you seen WritingFix's Chapter Books as Mentor Texts Collection?

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