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MULTI-GENRE MEMOIR A Teacher Workshop Presented by Anna Olson.

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1 MULTI-GENRE MEMOIR A Teacher Workshop Presented by Anna Olson




5 WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?  Online class for 5 th /6 th grade GT students (9 weeks)  Autobiography only one of several projects  Some choice already built in  Prewriting: brainstorm more events than needed  Prewriting: create a timeline of events chosen for inclusiontimeline  Organized around a themetheme  Project format Project format  Family tree (choice of format completely up to student) Family tree  Students enjoyed project, but…

6 I felt we could be doing much more with the autobiography idea. When I attended our orientation and heard about Romano’s work with multi-genre papers, something clicked and I realized that the next class I wanted to design would focus on multi-genre memoir writing. This decision has only been reinforced by the recent sharing of our “Ways of Seeing Me” work. The new class I envision will not only give students more choices in their writing, but will make them agents of their own learning.

7 MY QUESTIONS  How can I use multi-genre memoir writing to enable students to experiment with new ideas and take responsibility for their own writing?  And how can I do this in an online environment?





12 KEY IDEAS  Need for experimentation and exploration in writing. There needs to be a body of work from which to choose.  “Exercise increases the capacity for exercise. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of milk. Abundance makes for abundance. That’s how multi-genre works.” –Romano  Students as decision makers. What to include?  “No writing is wasted writing in the practice and experimentation stages, but not all writing will be worth publishing and including in a final memoir piece.” –Kirby & Kirby

13 EXPERIMENT & EXPLORE (ROMANO)  Think about these categories  Important things  Meaningful places  Crucial people  Central acts/processes  Memorable conversations  Identify indelible moments  Stick in your mind  Represent big emotion & complex meaning  Can be defining

14 EXPERIMENT & EXPLORE (KIRBY & KIRBY)  Name piece  On the day I was born  Difficult times piece  Sibling or parent piece  Family love or perspectives  Epiphany or turning point  Home piece  Teachers or school worries  Ethnicity or culture piece  Futuristic piece (what I’ll be like in ___years)  Snapshot piece  Artifacts, treasured things  Dialect, unique speech  Conscious artist  Boundaries piece  Family trip piece  Grandparent piece  Pet piece  Mysteries piece  Holidays & celebrations  Personal portrait piece

15 MULTI-GENRE=MORE THAN ONE  Description (different POV)  Dictionary entry  Editorial  Eyewitness account  Fairy tale  How-to writing  Journal/diary entry  Infomercial (humorous)  Letter of complaint  Map with legend  Narrative  Newscast  Nursery rhyme  Obituary  Parody  Prezi  Photo with description  Poem, flash fiction  PSA  Recipe  Review (book, movie, etc.)  Script (TV, play)  Sermon  Short story  Song  State of the Union address  Stream of consciousness

16 LET’S EXPERIMENT!  Let’s try a place spider piece.  Think about a place that has special meaning for you. It could be a room in your home from any period of your life, a building, a place in nature, a city, etc. It should evoke emotion.  Now for the next 8-10 minutes, write about this significant place.  Save your writing for later.

17 KEY IDEAS  Organization of a work with multiple pieces will reveal itself (better not to begin with a preconceived plan).  Which pieces are most personally relevant? Look for patterns among them.  Pieces may be related through geography, time, feelings, characters, artifacts.  Repeat image, detail, exact language.  Repeat a pattern or quotations, pictures, titles.  Repeat a form, genre, style.  Repeat a scene from a different point of view.  Write a significant fragment of a scene, then later surprise readers with a fully rendered, vivid version of that scene.

18 KEY IDEAS  Teacher as model and coach. We need to write with our students and participate with them in revising work, but it is they who make the final choices.  Writing is fostered in a community which shares values, supports each others’ work & efforts, and projects genuine interest in each others’ writing.

19 IT TAKES A COMMUNITY!  With your place spider piece in hand, find your number partner.  Take turns reading your work, then using the Checklist of Revision Options for the Place Spider Piece identify two ways that your writing could be revised.  You and your partner should discuss what kind of revisions would make the piece more vivid and memorable for the reader.

20  Hierarchy of revision behaviors  Editing & proofreading are lower order behaviors.  Revising, elaborating, translating, and forming/finding are higher order behaviors.  Students need to engage in both levels just like professional writers.  Adding (elaboration) and cutting (revision) are both important.  Checklist of options will vary depending on type of writing piece.

21 MY PLANS  Design 9 week online course on multi-genre memoir writing  Gifted/talented students in grades 5-8  Reading  One memoir of student’s choice (recommendations provided)  Excerpts from memoirs to serve as models for writing explorations  Writing response groups will change throughout course  Write a spider piece Mon.-Thurs. then use Fri. to respond  Choose 1 piece each week to revise and submit to teacher for feedback  F2F#1 (week 1)  Overview processes, types of genres, various writing explorations  Examine professional texts that will serve as models for explorations/spider pieces  Try a couple of spider pieces, then practice giving feedback in response groups

22 MY PLANS CONTINUED  F2F#2 (midterm)  Students bring writing pieces to use in mini-lessons on revision behaviors (high order and low order)  Discussion: ways to achieve unity  Discussion: presentation ideas  Explore additional kinds of genre writing  Final weeks of course  Students select pieces from their writing collections for the final memoir  Revise, edit, polish final work  Assemble memoir  F2F#3  Present work  Reflect on the process they used and on the course

23 ASSESSMENT: HELP!  A big question I have is how to assess multi-genre student memoirs in a meaningful way. Although the authors I have read present some options, I would like to solicit YOUR thoughts.  Now that you have an idea of what my proposed class will be like, please find your COLOR GROUP and spend a few minutes discussing approaches to assessment.

24 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  Thanks to my writing response group (Bailey, Claire and Deborah) for being a sounding board and for gently steering me back on course when I veered from my own voice. You have helped me grow as a writer and boosted my confidence more than you know.  Thanks to everyone in our cohort for being amazing sources of inspiration. By going last, I have benefitted from each one of you.  Thanks to 2 Marks + 1 Beth for your nurturing leadership styles and constant encouragement.


26 RESOURCES  Edelman, Marian Wright. 2003. Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America. 2003. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company  Kirby, Dawn Latta and Kirby, Dan. 2007. New Directions in Teaching Memoir: A Studio Workshop Approach. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.  Mendelsohn, Daniel. “But Enough About Me. What Does the Popularity of Memoirs Tell Us About Ourselves?” New Yorker. January 25, 2010. [ hn]  “On Memoir, Truth and Writing Well” (interview with William Zinsser). NPR All Things Considered. April 13, 2006. []  Romano, Tom. 2013. Fearless Writing: Multigenre to Motivate and Inspire. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.  _______1995. Writing with Passion: Life Stories, Multiple Genres. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.

27 SAMPLE TIMELINE  1/1/99 I am born prematurely at Parkview Hospital in River Falls, WI and spend my first month in the hospital.  3/5/01 I unbuckle my high chair seat belt and do a swan dive on to my head (first trip to ER).  5/1/02 We move to Milwaukee. I get my head stuck in the stair railing of our new house and the firemen come to help me get out.  7/21/4 I fell out of my crib and broke my left arm.  12/5/4 The doctors cut my arm open trying to take off my cast.  THEME  A Series of Unfortunate Events: My Life in the Emergency Room back

28 FORMATFORMAT CHOICES The Writer: Traditional printed, bound “book” of 5-10 printed pages (illustrations optional and would be extra pages beyond required number) CLICK HERE for complete guidelines.CLICK HERE The Traditional Photojournalist: A collection of 25-50 photos that tell the story of your family and your life, mounted, with accompanying text for each photo. CLICK HERE for complete guidelines.CLICK HERE The Graphic Artist: PowerPoint of 25-50 slides, which can include text, photos, graphics, music and/or narration. CLICK HERE for complete guidelines.CLICK HERE The Filmmaker: DVD (playable in a regular DVD player or computer) of about 10-12 minutes duration, including photos, scanned or added text, narration, music, video clips. CLICK HERE for complete guidelines.CLICK HERE The Storyteller: Audio recording of about 10-15 minutes duration in which you tell your life story in an entertaining manner. CLICK HERE for complete guidelines.CLICK HERE

29 back


31 AUTOBIOGRAPHY THEMES  Family trips  Places I have lived  Injuries and illnesses  Pets  Sports  Life in Scouts  Friendships  Achievements  Books  Horse riding competitions  Cow showing competitions  Car racing  A musical life  Farm life  Living in two cultures  My life as a gamer back

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