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…
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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. [http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/01/25/100125crbo_books_mendelso hn] “On Memoir, Truth and Writing Well” (interview with William Zinsser). NPR All Things Considered. April 13, 2006. [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5340618] 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.
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
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
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