Thursday, 19 January 2017

Grade 9 What is a Memoir?

What is a Memoir

Grade 9's are currently studying memoirs.  We have watched a video to form a definition and identify what makes them interesting.

Grade 9's Definition of a memoir:

A personal recollection based on true events or life experience to make a point or teach a lesson.  It usually takes the form of a story.  Has something important to say.

Things that make them interesting:

  • Interesting events
  • Suspense
  • Description
  • Humor - hyperbole
  • Change in pace
  • Tone changes
  • Detail
  • Powerful language - creative words (metaphors)

We read "The Goal Post" by Edward Smith and further identifyied these 5 items in the memoir:
  1. Sympathetic Main character
  2. Vividly Depicted Scenes
  3. Emotional Tension
  4. Increased Drama
  5. Satisfying Ending
Students discussed the purpose for memoirs and how the message fullfills the purpose. We also discussed the intended audience and the tone of the piece.

Our Focus:
  • I explain the relationship between purposes and the characteristics different forms and genres have. (characteristics = items they are made of)  2.3.1 (K&E 2.3.1 b)
  • I evaluate the effectiveness of different types of texts for presenting ideas and information 2.3.2   (K&E 2.3.1 c)

See Questions to Consider:
  1. Find examples of humour in the text.  Discuss how the author creates this humour with his choice of diction.  What other methods does he use to create amusement?

  • He was athletically minded but not athletically bodied. - the word choice is parallel but not common
  • There was lots of incentive from the bigger fellows. - this is a friendly tone to a fearful situation
  • This is an excellent example of advancement as opposed to promotion. - implies he’s simply put in enough time and not good at hockey.  (Mentions audience)
  • “My clothes would be like a suit of armour and they’d have to thaw me out behind the stove before the pants could be pried off” -Uses description to give funny images
  • “I wasn’t wearing any protection there…” -Withholds information to let the reader figure things out.

  1. Identify examples of slang, and language that reflects a particular culture.  How does the use of these words contribute to the tone of the text?
  • “Water-nipper” - humor
  • “Bush league” - country rough
  • “Mainlander” - exclusive
  • “Nish” - light hearted
Overall the text has a light playful tone

  1. Where and when do you think the author grew up?  Cite clues in the text as evidence for your conclusion.
The story takes place in Newfoundland or PEI as the speaker refers to those in the Halifax bush league as “mainlanders”.  He also talks about gun mits and living in a small town and both of these locations have wildlife and small towns and are on the East coast.

  1. Although the text is humorous, it has a serious point to make.  What is the author’s purpose in writing this memoir?  Support your answer with quotations from the text.
The author’s purpose is to honour his parents and volunteers for minor hockey.
  • “But when I think of the dozens of volunteers it takes to make minor hockey possible in our town, I see once more my Mom and Dad, standing in the snow…”
  • “In an other time in another place they would have been volunteers of the finest order.  Because they cared.”

Students are creating a flyer or poster to inform and persuade adults to volunteer for an extracurricular club or organization.

5. Create an attractive flyer campaigning for volunteers for an extracurricular organization of your choice.  Include: a description of your club, the benefits of your club to youth and why they are needed (how they will be appreciated, and what their contributions will be).  It is difficult to attract volunteers so be persuasive!

Items to include:
    1. Use headings to organize your ideas
    2. Use images to grab attention
    3. Use font, colour and shapes to make this flyer interesting.
    4. Create this flyer in a Google Drawing and use the nonfiction example on the back of this sheet to help with layout.

H Examples:
How does each poster grab your attention and make the information demand attention?
Take a close look at: Title, headings, images, fonts, colour and shapes.
What might you imitate in your flyer?

Students used the following checklist to keep themselves on track:

  • Describe your extracurricular organization
  • Explain the benefits of your organization
  • Explain why volunteers are needed and the benefits of volunteering
Fulfill the Purpose
  • Use persuasive techniques: fact, opinion, experts, quotes from members or other volunteers
  • Use language that is upbeat and exciting
  • Choose language carefully don’t cross the line with informal language.  Be credible.
  • Included 3 interesting headings that match the information
  • Use colours shapes fonts to organize content and grab attention
  • Use images to break up text and grab attention

  • Explain the purpose of your flyer and how you accomplished your purpose
    • The purpose of my flyer is to persuade adults to volunteer for…
    • I accomplish this by including….  (use specific examples from your flyer)
  • Explain which type of text (Memoir or Flyer) is more effective at presenting ideas and information
    • ________________ is more effective at presenting ideas and information because… (use specific examples from the text- either the memoir or your flyer)

Students will give each other feedback using a star stair strategy and the Excellent level of the rubric below:


I creatively organize ideas and info.  I use a wide variety of structures to demand attention and make finding info immediate.

The category headings unique, demand attention and the info matches

We are reading a variety of memoirs to understand their characteristics and identify how the author's fulfill their purpose of entertaining and informing.

We are noticing that author's use vivid description to:

  • allow the reader to better understand character
  • establish mood
  • develop relationships between characters
  • increase drama / tension
  • engage the audience
We also noticed that the message / lesson is typically found at the end of a memior.

We are explorting our ideas from our own lives by reviewing our free writing durning "A Monster Calls" and discussing with our peers. Students are writing a memoir based on one of the following choices:

  1. The importance of memory in peoples lives
  2. The importance of overcoming obstacles in life

We are using Kelly Galagher's express / reflect writing strategy to help us structure our memoirs. This means students vividly describe events from the past and weave in personal inisghts throughout the piece ending with the big picture lesson.

We read "On Love and a Lake," by and "Lost," by Beverly Ekert. To identify and understand this writing strategy. We also filled out the chart below.

All students have planned their memoirs using the same chart and are using a telling board strategy to further develop their ideas.

Students use partnerships to tell their memories then sketch them on a story board. Finally students retell their memoirs using the story board and recieve further feedback from their peers.

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