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Lesson Plan Title: Unearthing Family Memories

Grade Level: 9–12

Duration: 50 minutes

Description: Jessica Colom unearths her family’s roots in “Vueltas” by describing a trip she once took to her grandfather’s hometown. Memoir writers are often travel writers, blurring the boundaries between time, place, and memory. Through the process of writing this memoir, Jessica discovers something important about her identity as a Cuban-American. Through the process of reading, the reader is asked to make similar discoveries about him/herself. In this lesson, students will be asked to respond to Jessica’s memoir with memoirs of their own.

Student Objectives: Students will write memoirs unearthing their family roots.

List Materials:

  1. Paper, pencil, or pen
  2. “Vueltas” by Jessica Colom

Set Up and Prepare: Distribute copies of Jessica’s story to the class.

Directions: Have students read “Vueltas,” taking copious notes in the margins of the story about what Jessica discovers about her family through her memories. (15 minutes)

Step 1: Ask students to freewrite memories about their grandparents. Ask them to separate what they remember from what they’ve learned from pictures or been told. (10 minutes)

Step 2: Ask students to make a list of sense memories they have from visiting with their grandparents. If they’ve never spent time with their grandparents, have them write about visiting another relative. (5 minutes)

Step 3: Have students freewrite about their family’s history. Where did they come from? How did they get here? Who are they now? (10 minutes)

Step 4: Ask students to start drafting a first person memoir about their family’s roots. Tell them that writing a memoir is like working on an archeological dig. They have to unearth what they remember and share it with the reader. (10 minutes)

Assess Students: Ask students to read their work out loud. Are they able to make discoveries about the past and share them with others?

Lesson Extension: Have students expand their memoirs.

Evaluate Lesson:  Were students inspired by the lesson to explore their familial memories?

Assignments: Have students bring a rough draft of their memoir to the next class.