Our Stories Matter: Enhancing Classroom Culture through Memoir

Jessica M. Young, Fourth Grade, Davidson Elementary School

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This unit is intended to be used at the beginning of the school year to help students learn to generate ideas, improve their writing stamina, engage in the writing process, and learn more about themselves and each other.  Students write personal narratives with increasing skill and elaboration throughout elementary school.  By fourth grade, writers are ready to examine their lives on a deeper level.  With the addition of reflection, fourth graders can use the craft moves they’ve learned from personal narratives to compose thoughtful memoirs.  Writing and sharing memoirs strengthen students’ understanding of self and improve classroom culture.  Students will also use the writing process to create a compelling memoir from one of their ideas.  Every week highlights a step of the writing process and an element of narrative.  Each lesson starts with students generating ideas, followed by a minilesson and ample time to write and share.  The unit will close with a publishing party, where friends and family are invited to read memoirs and talk with the authors.  Through the activities described in this unit, I hope to transform my students into more engaged, thoughtful, and sincere writers and listeners.