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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 an idea from a fellow teacher:

A Menu of Memoir Choices

This review/activity was generously shared with us by Nevada teacher Keith Rand 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, Guyes Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka, 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 Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys' Favorite Authors Write About Being Boys from Amazon.com and WritingFix will receive a small donation to help us continue posting free-to-use resources.

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


A Review of this Book & an Activity Suggestion:

As an outgrowth of his Guys Read Project, Jon Scieszka has compiled Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys’ Favorite Authors Write About Being Boys, an anthology of childhood-inspired writing (including narratives and memoirs) written and illustrated by male authors and illustrators, himself included. The book has appeal for teenage boys but its use is adaptable to girls. Over eighty works artfully convey adolescent memories through forms varying from prose to comic strip. Works are adeptly organized alphabetically by author—illustrated works are interspersed and indicated with a star in the table of contents. This arrangement facilitates reading in a variety of styles; readers can easily locate their favorite or familiar authors, pick out all of the illustrated works, or just read straight through. The distribution of the illustrated works makes it more likely that visual learners will find neighboring written works of interest and vice versa for verbal learners.

Here is Keith's list of the anthology's essays with a a key for the genre of each essay.

Because this anthology demonstrates a range of forms of writing, I like to read and show my students (boys and girls) a number of the narrative selections over a period of weeks. After sharing an example from the book, I have students practice writing in a similar form during a quick write. Students keep their quick write work in a folder. After several weeks, students have had the opportunity to write and illustrate short pieces in a number of ways. At this point, I present students with a menu (see picture below) and ask them to write a longer piece in the form presented on the menu. The menu choices consist of the forms of writing and illustrating the students practiced; however, the choices are mapped according to different modes of learning (visual-spatial, verbal-auditory, and touch-kinesthetic). Of course, writing and illustration forms could be mapped by some other rationale such as multiple intelligences. Students are motivated by the chance to choose the form of their longer writing assignment, find a form that suits their learning style or other personal characteristic, possibly return to a previous work and expand on it, and even begin with a previous work in another form—rewriting it in their chosen form for the longer piece.


(click the picture above to open/print a PDF file of Keith's menu)


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

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