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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:

Written Snapshots in Memoirs

This review/activity was generously shared with us by NNWP Teacher Consultant Dena Harrison 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, Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher, 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 Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid 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:

In his memoir, Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid, author Ralph Fletcher captures may snapshots of his childhood through writing. I particularly enjoy the story called “The Funeral.” My favorite teaching point for this book is dialogue. Dialogue is such a useful tool in memoir writing. It can show the passage of time, as well as reveal important past events. We also learn about the narrator’s relationship with others through this descriptive talk. (Father, best friends etc…)

I love to have my students pick their favorite scene from this story and describe it to a partner as though they were going to draw it. Ralph Fletcher is such a descriptive writer, that the images he paints with his words are easily discussed by students. I then have the students bring in a photograph of their own, and try to describe what is happening in their photo on paper, using the style of Ralph Fletcher. By using their own pictures, students have a much easier time conjuring up the words they need to describe their own slice of life through dialogue. Some students often end up turning this into a longer piece of writing in their writer’s notebooks.


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