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Professional Development

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Lesson Plan

Making the Cut: Revising Memoirs by Detecting Clutter and Confusion

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Making the Cut: Revising Memoirs by Detecting Clutter and Confusion

Grades 6 – 10
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Rebecca Addleman

Tualatin, Oregon


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology



Revision Articles

Video Resources




  • Technology to display slide presentation—some options include
    • Document camera or projector
    • iPads with the Educreations app or another slide presentation app
    • Low tech option: printed photographs and scissors
  • Student rough drafts
  • Slide presentation: Vienna
  • Slide presentation: Amusement Parks

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  • Write Source

    Student writing models are organized by grade level and genre; see memoir examples under the “personal writing” category.

  • Scholastic’s Write It

    Student writing models are organized by genre; see memoir.  This link connects to the critics’ picks; you can also click on “memoir” on the right side of the webpage to access additional student examples for revision practice.

  • Teen Ink: Top Voted Memoirs

    Teen Ink provides electronic access to the student-created memoirs in their print magazine. These could be used as mentor texts or for revision practice.

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National Writing Project: Revision Resources
The NWP provides a rich collection of full text articles on revision.

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Annenberg Learner “Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers”
“The Power of Revision” is a one-hour video workshop with three classroom examples (the second specifically addresses memoirs/personal narratives) and concluding thoughts by Linda Rief.

YouTube interview with Steve Graham

This professional development lecture (40 minutes) introduces key research in writing instruction, Self-Regulated Strategy Development, peer revision, etc.

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  1. Use one of the sample slide presentations (Vienna or Amusement Parks) or create one using a set of pictures that includes a few imperfect shots (blurry, off center, random subject, duplicates, and so forth).
  2. Make copies of the Graphic Design Notes handout for use during the slide presentation.
  3. Print the Zinsser Quotess (on the board or one per student).
  4. Make copies of the Sample Memoir or write a memoir to model revision.
  5. Make copies of the Self-Assessment Reflection.
  6. The revision tool explained in this lesson is particularly relevant after students have written and revised rough drafts using revision tools designed to expand detail. The memoir chapter from Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle or one of the following ReadWriteThink resources provides helpful preparation:

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