- Sponsorship -

Plotting for a plot

Memory maps trigger personal narrative ideas

Ryder Nichols sketched a map. He drew his neighborhood from a bird’s-eye view with zoomed-in details of his home. 

He sketched the wooded area near his house where lots of fun happened, like when he built a humongous fort. He plans to write about that experience and others he’s had in his neighborhood — which he’s indicated on his map — this school year. 

Claire McDowell said her map memories include Fourth of July holidays at her family’s cottage

“I feel like the memories will help me have something to write about,” Ryder said. 

That’s what Nickels Intermediate sixth-grade teacher Melissa Thomas was hoping. Students’ maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives. The idea, which Thomas learned about at a conference, comes from children’s author Jack Gantos’ Secret Tips For Aspiring Authors. As a child, Gantos would sketch maps of the many homes and neighborhoods he lived in to keep track of his experiences.

The maps — which are drawn like a house with its roof removed, and covered with written memories or doodles — can be as intricate as students choose.

Cameron Payne sketched the pool he once walked right into with all his clothes on. Savannah Schmitz marked the spot where a bird pooped on her bed after it flew in the house when a door was left ajar. And Elly Watt drew where she fell off her bike when riding to get ice cream, injured her teeth and had to have a root canal.

Ryder Nichols draws memories in his neighborhood

“It’s giving me ideas about what I should write about,” Elly said.

The students keep writers notebooks, which serve as inspiration journals.The maps will go in the notebooks. 

“We spend time the first few weeks of school building all different ways to pull memories — we call them seeds of ideas — to help generate stories,” Thomas said.

It’s a way to get students started when they sit down with paper and pencil. “That’s the hardest part: ‘I have a blank page. How do I begin?’” she said. “If we have all these generated ideas, we can select one from there and go.”

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

Learning from a place full of living things

Rebecca Perry and her class of eager kindergartners spent their morning exploring the newly redone Living Lab at Zinser Elementary...

Mapping the road to learning

Elementary teachers Billie Freeland and Nicole Andreas are at the forefront of using a curriculum designed to further educational goals, regardless of whether students are in person or online...

‘Even though it is extra work, I don’t mind the changes’

Teachers of specialty subjects — art, music and physical education — share their experiences after the pandemic prompts changes to class procedures...

Bus drivers work as daytime cleaners during pandemic

It’s also a plus to have familiar faces around school...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Fourth-grader’s pickle stand inspired by school marketplace

‘With my tiny fingers, I am good at stuffing them,’ said the young pickle peddler. ‘You can see how they are packed in, so you get more for the money’...

Spreading out in the great outdoors

Outdoor education mid-pandemic is proving to be a welcome and successful alternative to indoor, masked learning in Byron Center this fall...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Districts ponder how to keep students learning, engaged

Teachers are challenged to keep their style of instruction intact with students who are socially distanced and, often, not in the building at all...

Students return to classrooms for first time since March

'It’s a little different, and a little strange. ... but it seems like it’s going to be fine'...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS