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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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Here's a thoughtful idea from a fellow teacher:

Learning Social Vocabulary while Launching a Memoir

This review/activity was generously shared with us by NNWP Teacher Consultant Julie Leimbach 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, Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 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.

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

A Review of this Book & an Activity Suggestion:

The picture book, Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, creates a clever, new kind of dictionary. The dictionary focuses on illusive words such as modest, proud, greedy, polite, fair and unfair. Adults use these words with children, but do the children really understand the meaning of the words? Each page of the book begins with a social skill word, followed by a “means” statement (TRUSTWORTHY means…). The author does a wonderful job of illustrating the definition of each word and relating it to a child’s experience with cookies. For example, to quote the book, "MODEST means, you don’t run around telling everyone you make the best cookies, even if you know it to be true." This book provides a wonderful opportunity for students to investigate and clarify their understanding of each social vocabulary word and to play with word choice. I love to see students take risks with word choice, and it also gives you an opportunity to stress balance when using word choice; not every word needs to be a “strong verb or strong adjective.”

After sharing and discussing this picture book, I have the students brainstorm the meaning of the word(s) I chose. Once the students have a clear understanding of the word(s), they create a definition in their own words. I will ask them to tap into their own experiences to come up with two to four examples of a time when they or someone they knew was “greedy” or “compassionate.” I ask the students to choose one of their ideas and tell a story/experience about that specific idea. The students will be encouraged to use a five senses graphic organizer to help them ferret out vivid details and voice. This lesson will be especially valuable to our ESL students who have a difficult time understanding these abstract words. These paragraphs can then be expanded into longer narratives or memoirs.

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

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