Thursday, February 27, 2014

Memoir Rehearsal - Student Scrapbooks

     This month my students have been reading books around the theme topic family and home.  Small group books included One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder, Hound Dog True by Linda Urban, Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, Tangerine by Edward Bloor, and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. Each student also chose an independent memoir (most of them were by children's authors).  Memoirs included Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka, Marshfield Dreams by Ralph Fletcher, Knots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli, Woodsong by Gary Paulsen, Looking Back by Lois Lowry, A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary, How I Came to be a Writer by Phyllis Reynold Naylor, and the one outlier, not written by a writer, Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton.  The kids LOVED the memoirs.  I was really happy about that.  Our read aloud is How To Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor.  We've explored our understanding of home and family, and expanded our definitions of those theme topics.

     Now we're making scrapbooks.  They have chosen a focus so that's it's not necessarily a chronological account of their whole lives, but a concentrated look at a single event, person, theme topic, etc.  Kids are picking a pet, a sport, a particular family member, a tradition, or a single trip.  I've explained that a memoir is not a personal narrative - it has a reflective quality.  This is difficult for young kids since they don't always think about how an experience or person in their lives help them become who they are.  However, when they do, you get some great stuff!  The scrapbooks are a great way to "rehearse" for memoir writing, which we're going to begin in March (just in time for the Slice of Life Challenge - we're going to be participating in a modified way - I've committed to the adult challenge).  I CAN'T WAIT to see what kind of writing these amazing children are going to create.

     Take a look at how my classroom has transformed into scrapbook heaven!  I included a picture of a student on a Chromebook because some kids chose to use digital scrapbook sites.  As the scrapbooks are being completed, I've looked over their reflection pages, and one student's was about her dog who died on New Year's Eve.  I confess tears were streaming down my face from her amazing writing.  Her scrapbook is beautiful.  Come back tomorrow to see pictures these creations.  For information on my literacy contracts (which I created with my writing partner, Megan Ginther) from which I choose monthly theme topics like home/family, see Choice Literacy.  


  1. What a great project! I'm glad you shared it here. Going to share this with my daughter's teacher.
    Linda Urban

    1. Thank you, Linda! Hound Dog True's small group had great discussions! :-)

  2. I found your blog when I googled Hound Dog True. I am looking for a modified version, something that is simplified for a student with Down syndrome. Any ideas?