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Writing a Life

Teaching Memoir to Sharpen Insight, Shape Meaning--and Triumph Over Tests

Katherine’s strategies help students tap memoir’s power, with minilessons, conferences, writing activities, prompts, and revision strategies as well as a unit that helps students transfer the content and skills of memoir to standardized assessments.

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    This depth of attention to a single genre is unprecedented in books on the teaching of writing. Until now, for this depth, teachers used books written for aspiring writers and translated them into sensible classroom practice. Katherine brings writing and teaching together exquisitely in this beautiful book.
    —Katie Wood Ray, Author of About the Authors
    Smart teachers will read this book. Smarter teachers will use it as a guide. The smartest ones will read it, use it, and then return to it for inspiration, reflection, and, ultimately, for hope. In Writing a Life, Bomer takes us beyond the craft of writing memoir to the purpose and passion of this genre.
    —Kylene Beers, Author of When Kids Can’t Read—What Teachers Can Do
    Writing a Life has become my new “Best-book-in the-whole world.” Like a best friend, this book understands what I need without my naming it, and responds in ways that are as deep and as pure as the human spirit.
    —Lucy Calkins, Author of Units of Study for Primary Writing

Memoir is more than writing down memories; it's a powerful motivator for children to write and revise. Working with familiar material, students explore their lives, learn new and sophisticated elements of craft, and engage deeply with content to uncover personal and universal meaning. By teaching with memoir, you can help students exceed official standards for writing, both in class work and on tests, while also giving them a tool for making sense of their place in the world.

In Writing a Life, Katherine Bomer presents classroom-tested strategies for tapping memoir's power, including ways to help kids generate ideas to write about, elaborate on and make meaning from their memories, and learn craft from published memoirs. She describes dozens of ideas for minilessons, teacher–student conferences, peer conferences, writing activities, prompts, and revision strategies. She then crosses the literacy spectrum to show how studying mentor memoirs can enrich students' reading by building strong reading-writing connections. In addition, Bomer presents a curricular unit that prepares students for writing tests by systematically and explicitly helping them transfer the content and skills they develop in writing memoir to the demands of standardized assessments.

Every student has a story to share. With Writing a Life, you'll have the inspiration, the strategies, and the materials you need to help them write it beautifully.

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