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Page history last edited by Russell 11 years, 10 months ago
Fri and Mon, Oct 17 and 20
In class you will engage in self-evaluation using the self-evaluation tool. Grades depend not only on the quality of writing in the memoir itself, but in the student's demonstration of knoweldge and understanding through reflection.
We will begin our next unit on MYTHOLOGY, with a focus on the skills of research and more creative writing.
NOTE TAKING as you get an introduction via slide show to myths and mythology.
Wed-Thu, Oct 15-16
DUE: Evidence that you have begun writing your memoir. You no longer just have notes and your brainstorm - now you've got sentences!
REMINDER: You can preview the evaluation of this memoir in crimson text below the Mon-Tue lesson.
Warm Up: Mini-lesson on metaphor. Because similes are generally easier for people, I will help you see how to take a simile and turn it into a metaphor.
It seems most students find similes easy to write, whereas metaphor is a more elusive animal. Did you notice I just used a metaphor? I compared trying to create a metaphor with trying to capture an elusive animal! Anyway, it is sometimes helpful to start with a simile and work your way TO metaphor. Watch how this happens:
  • SIMILE: Mr. Rice's head reflects light from every angle. It is as shiny as a solar panel in the desert sun.
  • METAPHOR: Mr. Rice's head reflects light from every angle. It is a solar panel in the desert sun.
In the previous example, the author first tells me what I'm to "see" (Mr. Rice's head) then the comparison comes by just stating the head is a solar panel in the desert sun. The author assumes the reader knows that solar panels in the desert sun are shiny. There's no need to say Mr. Rice's head is like the solar panels - just the image alone of the bright reflection is enough.
  • SIMILE: The ice spread across the glass like a jagged frozen mosaic of frosted crystals.
  • METAPHOR: The ice spread across the glass was a jagged frozen mosaic of frosted crystals.
In the ice example, the comparison is between the appearance of the ice and a mosaic. Instead of using "like," the metaphor first tells me what I'm looking at (ice spread across glass), then what it's compared to (a jagged frozen mosaic of crystals).
Metaphor works for any of the senses. Smell can be a fun one:
  • SIMILE: None of us were excited about dinner; whatever cooked in the oven smelled as bad as a fish that had been left in the sun for a week, then immersed in rotting cream to soak before cooking.
  • METAPHOR: None of us were excited about dinner; the smell was of a fish that had been left in the sun for a week, then immersed in rotting cream to soak before cooking.
Notice in the fish example that a little editing had to take place in order for the metaphor to work without the key words like, as, or than
METAPHOR: My problems drifted away from me along with the water under the proverbial bridge, never to return.
METAPHOR: So much went through my mind that my thoughts were a swirling whirl of random information - blurring, twisting mental tornados of ideas.
SIMILE then METAPHOR: My parents had always seemed a perfect match, like cold milk alongside an Oreo cookie. But my father had changed. The milk in the glass had turned sour while my mother was still sweet.
And the classic:
  • SIMILE: You eat like a cow!
  • METAPHOR: You are a cow!
This is a quiet work day where I will attempt to meet with every student, answering questions and providing input.
HOMEWORK: Finish your memoir! A typed, double-spaced version of this memoir is due next class.

Mon-Tue, Oct 13-14
Warm Up #12 - Creating Similes
Try your hand at completing each of the five similes below. Recall that a simile is a comparison between two things that are basically unalike until the comparison is drawn using "like," "as," or "than." In each case, read the situation and create a simile using one of the key words.
Example: Mr. Rice's head reflects light from every angle. It is as shiny as a solar panel in the desert sun.
  1. When I pulled back the window shade I noticed the ice that had formed overnight. It spread across the glass ...
  2. After practice I was hesitant to remove my shoes. My feet ...
  3. I opened the gate to find the uncut lawn. I stood behind the mower and observed the yard ...
  4. The repeated tapping of my neighbor's foot began to hammer into my brain. It was as though ...
  5. When I came in from the ninety degree heat, the tall glass of lemonade hit my tongue ...
These similes give you an idea of how to use a language device to appeal to a reader's senses. A similes and metaphors are language devices that allow authors to reach into the experiences of their readers and create responses to writing.
TODAY: We begin writing about a section of our own life. This segment will be part of your memoirs. Review of memoir from last week's notes:
  • What is a memoir?
  • What do people write in one?
  • How do we know a quality piece of memoir writing?
Memoir writing begins by thinking about your own life and the events that made a difference to you. Some people can think of significant events in their lives without taking much time at all while others of us need help brainstorming. The key to a good idea is to be forward-thinking:
FORWARD THINKING involves asking the questions: Where am I headed? What is my ultimate goal? What must I do to reach my goal?
Goals for today's class:
  • Select your topic and show evidence of brainstorming and pre-writing
  • Be able to explain verbally why you choise your topic - why it's a good choice for fulfilling the assignment requirements
At this point, you know that you have a goal of writing about a time in your life. A second item to consider: In the course of writing this memoir you must:
  1. Incorporate at least one metaphor
  2. Incorporate at least  two similes
  3. Appeal to three different senses through use of descriptive writing
  4. Help the reader understand, somehow, why the event(s) hold meaning for you
Quiz yourself:
  • How many similes do I need to include?
  • What is a memoir?
  • How many senses do I need to "hit" with descriptive writing?
The question now becomes: "WHAT DO I WRITE ABOUT?"
  • First, the topic or event(s) you choose to write about need to be rich with creative opportunity. In other words, when you recall that time in your life, you need to almost be able to experience it again so that you can write descriptively. You will need to transport your reader there. So generalities will not work. Details are where it's at.
  • Second, the experience(s) you will write about may not be earth-shattering, but they should carry meaning to you. If an author doesn't really care about her topic, neither will the reader.
  • Third, to help evaluate your ideas you will use a graphic organizer.
Draw your own graphic organizer:
  1. On notebook paper, state your topic idea at the top in the center, like it's the title of a story or paper
  2. On the left hand side, draw five boxes directly stacked on top of one another, each about two inches square. Label them "sight" "smell" "taste" "touch" "hear"
  3. On the right hand side, draw a vertical box that takes up the top half of the page. Label it "Discoveries, learnings, observations, realizations"
Let's say you have an idea to write about a youth soccer game where you were injured. On the top of your paper you write "Broken bone at soccer match." You're not sure if it will work, so consider the requirements. You know you have to include an appeal to at least three senses, so you consider first what senses can be highlighted at a soccer game:
  • Sound of the parents cheering, coach yelling - you write this in the "sound" box
  • Smell of the grass and oranges at halftime - goes in the "smell" box
  • Feel of the light rain hitting the face - goes in the "touch" box
  • Feel of my leg twisting and breaking under me - "touch" box
  • Sound of my breaking bone - "sound" box
  • Sound of my screaming voice - "sound" box
  • Pain of the leg being set before casting - "touch" box
 It looks like plenty of senses can be addressed, but what about the other requirements of memoir? A memoir carries significance for the author. So you need to consider what that day at the soccer match and a broken leg meant for you at the time and what it means now. In the "Discoveries, etc." box you may write:
  • I had an unexpected challenge that showed me that when you're in trouble others can fill in for you
  • I was shown that others can help you feel better when you have an unexpected shock in life
  • After my cast was removed and I went through rehab, I realized that I had what it took to overcome physical challenges
When you can state specifically why the event(s) were and are significant to you then you've hit a good topic idea.
At this point, if you don't know of any good topics, try these story-starters:
  • The day began like any other, but soon I would have a different understanding of the word "normal." ...
  • My family in general is like any other ...
  • When I was seven a funny thing happened. Well, not really funny, but memorable to me ...

OR ...

  • A time when you witnessed something difficult, yet out of the situation you matured
  • A time when you or your family faced a hard time
  • A time when a small event led you to realize something about life and how life is
The graphic organizer exercise is REQUIRED for everyone. You will be asked to SHOW your graphic organizer exercise for the topic you ultimately chose. This shows you were FORWARD THINKING!
Get to work! I will come around to see how you're doing.
HOMEWORK: BEGIN WRITING. When you come to class next time, be able to show me you have begun writing actual sentences, and be prepared to write, write, write during class time. You can preview the evaluation of this memoir below.

English 9
Memoir #1 Self-Evaluation

Select two quality similes from your memoir and write them below. (If you wrote more than the required two, this allows you to judge which are your best.)

A metaphor is a comparison of two things that at first seem unalike. Write the one required metaphor from your memoir. Explain what two things are being compared, and what your metaphor suggests they have in common.

Number the lines of text on your memoir, beginning at one. Please list what senses are hit in your memoir, and for each one, give the line number(s) of where to find your descriptive writing.

A memoir shares events relevant to the author. State clearly what this memoir shows that you learned or discovered about life and living. In other words, state why this particular part of your life has relevance. (Avoid simply stating what happened. Instead explain what you took away from the experiences.)

Finally, give your opinion of the value of memoir writing. Why do you think people write their memoirs? Why do you think we enjoy reading the memoirs of other people? (Up to one paragraph.)

 Wed-Thu, Oct 8-9
DUE: Paragraph attempting to include at least one simile or metaphor AND one purposeful attempt at including an appeal to the senses.
Warm Up # 11 - The difference between than and then
The difference between “then” and “than”
Try to select the correct choice – then or than in each sentence.
  1. I tried the salad first, ______________ I tried the veal cacciatore.
  2. Phil has a better GPA ______________ Teresa.
  3. I scored higher on the unit exam _____________ I thought I would.
  4. When you have holes in the knees and the seam on your bottom has ripped, _____________ it is definitely time to get new jeans.
  5. Ultimately, Rainsford was better at hunting and fighting ______________ Zaroff.


On your homework, underline your one purposeful attempt at simile (or metaphor); if you have more than one, underline them all!
Underline a spot where you think you have a good appeal to the senses
  • Read each person's paragraph in your group, paying particular attention to the underlined parts
  • As a group, decide which person has a good simile
  • As a group, decide which person has a good example of appeal to the senses
Each group will share with the class their example of appeal to senses and simile or metaphor
I will review these examples with you, showing you how I "read" and consider your writing. This will give you insight into how I view your writing.
At some point during class, I will also show you examples of classic bad similes (from students) and I will explain how they lack quality. They are humorous. If you want to see examples of humorous errors in written English, Google "anguished english" and follow links to Richard Lederer's site(s).
HOMEWORK: None. WHY? The original plan was to do more this class period, but because too many students did not complete their homework, we were not able to do as much in class. We are therefore forced to slow down. This is disapointing. Please plan your time and do your work.

Mon-Tue, Oct 6-7



Warm Up #10


How many different prepositions can you think of in five minutes? A preposition indicates position or location with regard to something.




Above, around, under, over, through


(Sometimes, you can just use a fill-in-the-blank method for prepositions: “_______________ the house.”)

Above the house

Around the house

Under the house


A Brief Unit on Memoir
(also emphasizing writing to the senses, metaphor, and simile)
What is a memoir?

A form of autobiographical writing in which a person recalls significant events in his or her life. Examples include “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan and the selection from Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

What do people write in memoirs?

Although the stories are of a personal nature, they can also address issues that speak to the experiences of all people or a certain group. Memoirs include feelings and opinions about events. The feelings and opinions of the author help the reader see how events shape lives.

How do I know a quality memoir?

Quality memoirs carry impact. The subject of the writing may be something very simple, like recalling the smell of fresh bread when returning home from school, yet overall, the writer helps the reader understand the feelings of the people in the memoir. Quality memoirs speak to the writer’s feelings and senses, and that carries over to the reader’s feelings and senses.

How do I write about feelings and senses?
Instead of telling what happened, an author attempts to help the reader experience what happened.
  • Tell: When I came in the door I smelled fresh bread.
  • Show: When I finally managed to open our creaky, crooked door, I was bathed in the warm, comforting smell of freshly baked bread. I closed my eyes, and the troubles I had at school melted away as I was embraced by the smell of home.
  • Tell: Wendy was angry when she came into class this morning. I mean, she was really, really, REALLY angry!!
  • Show: Wendy flung open the door to the classroom, stomped to her desk in the back of the room, threw herself into her seat, and slammed her books to the floor. “What’s wrong, Wendy,” her friend asked. "Shut up!” Wendy snarled.
SHOWING involves a description of what the character says and does that reveals the character’s mood and personality. It makes a character come alive and allows the reader to know the person through the person’s words and actions
Try to touch at least four of the five senses: Sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste
  • From “Two Kinds”: Such a sad, ugly girl! I made high-pitched noises likea crazed animal, trying to scratch out the face in the mirror.
  • From “Two Kinds”: He had lost most of the hair on top of his head and he wore thick glasses and had eyes that always looked tired and sleepy.
  • From “Two Kinds”: She had this peculiar smell like a baby that had done something in its pants. And her fingers felt like a dead person’s, like an old peach I once found in the back of the refrigerator; the skin just slid off the meat when I picked it up.
Use of simile and metaphor
To help writing speak to the reader’s feelings, accomplished authors use certain devices like simile and metaphor.
Metaphor – is a figure of speech that compares two things that are basically unlike one another, yet have something in common.
Simile – is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things using the words “like,” “as,” or “than.”
Metaphor – The running back was a bull on the field, running over would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.
Simile – The running back was like a bull on the field, running over would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.
Metaphor – Their love was a white rose, delicate and pure.
Simile – Their love was like a white rose, delicate and pure.
Metaphor – You are such a cow!
Simile – You eat like a cow!
It’s time to play with words and images that appeal to the various senses. Try a few lines in your class notes section. Describe …
  • A morning rain
  • An approaching storm
  • Sand castles
  • The view from a hilltop overlooking a great city
  • A fox seeing a movement in the grass
  • The flight of an eagle
  • A ghost town
  • A condemned hotel
  • A giant striding across the land
  • A flower that is opening
How to do it: Create a T-graph
On the left, make a list of all the objects and images associated with the scene you must describe. For example, if I need to describe a morning rain …
  • Sound of drops on trees
  • Look of rain as it falls
  • Look of rain hitting puddles
  • Sound of drops in puddles
  • Children stomping in puddles on way to bus stop
  • Adults rushing to their car
  • Umbrellas going up
  • Look of sun after the rain
On the right, write words and phrases that might be used to describe these items.
By this time you have all the elements of an emerging descriptive piece of writing that shows and avoids telling.


HOMEWORK: Write a short paragraph that shows and describes one of the events from our list. Use at least one metaphor or simile, and try to hit at least one of our senses. Underline your use of simile/metaphor and senses.

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