Mentor Monday 3/24/2014: Memoirs

Welcome!  I am Krista from Teaching Momster and I am SOOO excited to be hosting this week’s Mentor Monday for Emily!  She is getting some much-needed family time with her newest addition, as well as with her young twins.    
This week’s topic is memoirs.  It is one of my absolute FAVORITE units, so I struggled with narrowing down this post to a reasonable level.  You can get to know so much about your kids with this unit, which helps to build an even better rapport.  
First, what is a memoir?  A memoir (some call a personal narrative) has been defined by several people in different ways.  

To me, a memoir is a small moment in time, usually filled with emotions.  I have several texts that I use when I teach this unit, but the one I am going to discuss today is “Journey” by Patricia MacLachlan. Usually, by this time of the year, I have read this to my class and I jump back to part of it to discuss memoirs.  If you haven’t read it to your class yet, it is a pretty quick read.  While the book itself isn’t actually a memoir, the beginning of it definitely helps get kids thinking!  Here is an Amazon summary of the book:

Journey is eleven the summer his mother leaves him and his sister, Cat, with their grandparents. He is sad and angry, and spends the summer looking for the clues that will explain why she left.

Journey searches photographs for answers. He hunts family resemblances in Grandma’s albums. Looking for happier times, he tries to put together the torn pieces of the pictures his mother shredded before her departure. And he also searches the photographs his grandfather takes as the older man attempts to provide Journey with a past. In the process, the boy learns to look and finds that, for him, the camera is a means of finding things his naked eye has missed–things like inevitability of his mother’s departure and the love that still binds his family.

As you can see, photographs are important in this story, and they are also important to me!  They capture small moments to help us remember them forever.  For example, this photo of my two kids may look like a simple photo of two happy kids.  But, I know that this is the first time I met my two precious babies.  This is the day their social worker met us at McDonald’s and we got to meet and play together.  This small moment was the first of many fun times we had with our new forever family, but this picture is where it all began! 
Have students bring in some important pictures from their life.  I have found it is the easiest if you don’t give them very specific instructions because they tend to bring the ones that are most important to them, which lead to GREAT small moments!  Make sure to add in some extra discussion time on the day they bring in the pictures!  Everyone wants to talk about their photos!  
After sharing photos and reading Journey (at least pages 11-13), discuss how Journey looks at a photo and remembers (or learns about) his past.  In small groups or pairs, have students do that for their photograph.  They can share the “story” of their picture, or share what the see, remember, feel, wonder, etc.  After they have had a chance to share verbally, they can fill out an organizer or start writing about their small moment.  You can grab this organizer for FREE from my TPT store by clicking here or by clicking on any of the pictures.  This freebie also includes a blank version with no words on the clouds in case you want your kids to focus on something else (senses, describing words, etc.).

I can’t wait to hear how you teach memoirs!  I hope you will link up!  
Until next time,

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