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Lesson Plan

Memories Matter: The Giver and Descriptive Writing Memoirs

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Memories Matter: The Giver and Descriptive Writing Memoirs

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Gaines

Hoover, Alabama


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson that tightly integrates personal writing, research, and thematic response to literature, students discuss the importance of having a recorded history of humanity. As they explore this topic, they gain a deeper understanding of the horror of Jonas's dystopian society in Lois Lowry's The Giver. This understanding generates a keen interest in and context for the descriptive writing of students' own history. Students gather ideas from several sources, including their own memories, interviews, and photographs, and then write their own descriptive memoirs.

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Interactive Timeline: Use this online tool to help students record a sequent of historical events.

Story Map: Use this online tool to map out the elements of students' original writing. The tool can also be used to analyze the characters, plot, and setting of a piece of literature.

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Using literature as a model text for student writing is widely regarded as a sound strategy for engaging students, both as readers and as writers. This practice is especially effective when the connection between model text and student writing is reflexive, as in the case of The Giver, in which storytelling and memories are central to understanding and appreciating the literature. Students should be led to understand, as Jeffery Wilhelm notes in You Gotta BE the Book: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents, that storytelling is "a primary way of knowing and organizing our personal knowledge of ourselves and the world. Storying defines humanity, makes us human, empowers us in being who we are, and makes it possible for us to conceive of being more than we are" (52-53). Reading stories about memories and storytelling while writing such stories themselves, students build literacy skills and gain an appreciation of the importance of narrative and history in their lives.

Further Reading

Wilhelm, Jeffrey. 1997. "You Gotta BE the Book": Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading With Adolescents. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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