Wednesday, January 19, 2011

6 Word Memoirs

For Christmas a friend gave me I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: 6 Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure. I made reading and writing 6 word memoirs our back to school community builder. We also need a transition day coming back to school after vacation and I planned to connect the memoirs to what we were discussing before we left.

In my AP class, students had just started to read Fast Food Nation. We're talking about obesity and health care and food. Before break we applied literary theory to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. I used handouts from Tim Gillespie's Doing Literary Criticism and had students in groups teach the theory by presenting an interpretation of the novel to the class. So using the 6 word memoir in AP looked different from using the 6 word memoir in my ninth grade classes. Here's the sequence I used in AP:

  1. Introduce 6 word memoirs with the video clip I Can't Keep My Own Secrets.
  2. Model applying 1 of the literary theories we studied to the 6 word memoir.
  3. Give students time to interpret a memoir from 2 theoretical perspectives.
  4. Read/watch additional 6 word memoirs from NPR's Six Word Memoirs: Life Stories Distilled.
  5. Brainstorm details and ideas using photographs and 5Ws and an H chart.
  6. Model altering a photograph and writing my own 6 word memoir using Photoshop.
  7. Give students time to write their own (one about food and one about a topic of their choice).
  8. Share out.
I asked students to post their memoirs, once they added altered art, to our Ning, Bear English. I'm struggling with how many students did and did not post them. I know each student wrote at least 2 in class. The breakdown seems to come with the computer. Is it access? Is it skill? What's holding more than half of my students back when it comes to using technology? I've got quite a divide in my classroom between students who can and will follow through with something on the computer and those that either cannot or will not.

PS: Be sure to check out the discussion of 6 word memoirs on the English Companion Ning! Lots of resources and good conversation.

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