What is a memoir? If you asked a 5th grader that question last week, they would not have been able to answer. However, today they would be able tell you that a memoir is a blend of narrative writing and argument writing. It is a memory or story that is significant in the writer’s life. I had students express that they were unable to identify a time in their life that was important enough to write about.
“Nothing significant has happened in my life.”
“I can't dig deep enough to write a memoir.”
This week, however, they are now engrossed in their very own memoir. How did we get to this point so quickly? We have read a variety of mentor texts beginning with Scillian’s Memoir of a Hamster and Memoir of a Goldfish. We then moved ahead to past 5th grade students’ pieces of writing. We used these as mentor texts to inspire the ideas in my students.
The fifth graders also interviewed a classmate with the purpose of bringing out ideas. They asked questions that made their partners think and reflect. It was these conversations that jump started the writing in my classroom.
Today, merely one week into this unit, the entire atmosphere has changed. The students not only know that they have a story to tell and a message to portray, they believe that they are worthy of being shared with others.