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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:

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This review/activity was generously shared with us by NNWP Teacher Consultant Jennifer Noland 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, Marley & Me by John Grogan, 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 Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog from 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 Book Review & an Activity Suggestion:

In the novel, Marley and Me, author John Grogan reflects upon his life in dog years spent with his beloved Labrador, Marley. Just married and beginning a career, author Grogan begins his novel with the grandiose idea to get a puppy! Soon, this puppy becomes the catalyst for a lifetime of hair raising events, hilarious anecdotes, and intimate moments that lead Grogan through life with Marley. The beauty of Marley and Me is that through Marley, John Grogan is able to describe the events in his life that are memorable. Each chapter tells a tale of Marley’s life, yet weaved throughout are the moments that make us human. The beauty of this novel is the easy reading, hilarious recaps, and heart warming glimpses into life with the Grogans.

Begin by reading Chapter 2, “Running with the Blue Bloods” out loud to students. This chapter provides a great introduction to the book, describes the main characters, and does what this book does best: captures an intimate moment between the author and his wife through their relationship with Marley. Lead a discussion with students on how certain people, pets, etc. can trigger memories of events and moments in one’s life.

Lead students through a brainstorming/webbing activity on the memories (both good and bad), events, and special moments that they have experienced in their life thus far. Remind students to include both good memories and bad memories that they have. Next, instruct students to sort their ideas into two different groups: positive experiences and negative experiences. Then students need to put their events in order from the earliest memory to the most recent. Students will then construct a timeline based on their memorable life events. Positive experiences will go on the upper half of the time line and negative experiences on the bottom half of their timeline. The purpose of the timeline is to provide students with future writing topic ideas based on their own life experiences.

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

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