Memoir Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson to teach your students about memoirs, then ask students to analyze word choice and purpose of memoirs at interactive stations.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast autobiographies and memoirs
  • list characteristics of memoirs
  • analyze word choice and purpose of memoir


  • 1 hour

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5

Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3

Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6

Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.10

By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.


  • Begin by showing our lesson What Is a Memoir? - Definition & Examples.
  • Have students compare and contrast memoirs and autobiographies. Ask:
    • What are the characteristics of memoirs that aren't present in autobiographies?
    • How are memoirs and autobiographies similar?
    • Why do authors write memoirs? Who is the intended audience?
    • Which do you think is easier to write? More interesting to read?
  • Interactive Stations - Follow these steps:
    • Prepare sample excerpts from one of the memoirs mentioned in the lesson. Make copies for each student.
    • Hang three pieces of chart paper, spaced enough that students are able to visit each and not be crowded. Label with the memoir title, and create a three column chart with the following labels: 'Choice of Words,' 'Point of View,' and 'Purpose.'
    • Ask students to consider how the author's choice of words impacts the message of the memoir, how point of view was effective to the story, and what purpose the author had when writing. Have students read excerpts and make notations, citing examples to support their thinking about the above questions. When ready, students write their ideas on the chart paper.
    • After each student has visited each interactive station and added content, review the charts with students. Discuss student input.


  • Choose one memoir to read as a class. Repeat interactive stations with different prompts, such as 'What is the most life-changing event Earnest Hemmingway experienced in Paris?' or 'How is the structure of this narrative different than others we read?'
  • Have students write connections or reactions to other student's input in interactive stations, deepening their understanding of content.
  • Have students create a personal electronic memoir by recording portions of their day. Later, they can add text to accompany.
  • Have students create a brief 'Flip Memoir,' changing events in the memoir and imagining new ones. For example, what if Earnest Hemmingway was in Orlando instead of Paris?

Related Lessons

Memoir Writing Prompts

Symbolism & Imagery in Literature: Definitions & Examples

Narrators in Literature: Types and Definitions

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