Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Writing Small about Big Topics

Read this memoir.

The games I remember most from my childhood aren't Little League or hoops. Instead the game I remember most was penny pitching. This was usually played in hospital waiting rooms. I grew up with leukemia and spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms. To pass the time, my mother would take off her shoe, push it onto the middle of the rug, and we'd take turns pitching pennies into her shoe. 

Now when people ask me what it was like, growing up with leukemia, I do not tell them about the scabs around my mouth or IV lines. Instead I tell them that what I remember most is the thrill of the perfect arc and the soft thud as the penny landed squarely in my Mum's shoe. 

I am writing this column not because this has anything to do with Memphis or sports, but because I do not want another year to go by without saying thanks. My mother took a potentially scary time and made it sweet. 

And isn't that the meaning of September 11? Whatever it is we have been meaning to do--we need to do it, and do it now. Write that letter. Go for that job. Make that phone call...

Answer these questions.
1. What makes this a memoir?
2. What elements make it a personal narrative?
3. What are some small ideas in the story?
4. What are some big ideas in the story?
5. What are some themes in the memoir?

***Continue working on your memoir. Be careful that your memoir isn't just a retelling of events; that becomes a story. You've already written a personal narrative. Bring out the small and big moments.


  1. 1. It has no title for the story and it is a personal event in someones life
    2. It is an event in someones life told for that person point of view
    3. Having leukemia as a child and remembering visits to the doctor
    4. Playing the penny pitch game with your mom and having a scary disease.
    5. Always fight to make get things to get better

    1. You were very thoughtful with your answers.

    2. Draft 2
      I was asleep when I felt a little tickle on my foot and my amazing mom said "Matty it's time to wake up and get ready for school. When I woke up it was hurting my eyes because I hadn't seen any sunlight for hours. My mom also said "I made you breakfast downstairs for you so get your close on and go eat your breakfast, hurry, it's getting cold. After I got my clothes on I sprinted downstairs so my food wouldn't get cold. After I ate my breakfast I watched t.v. for 15 minute until we left. When we left we got to school on a perfect time.
      After a hard day at school my mom picked me up from Roberts market because I walked there after school. When I started my homework it was hard so I needed my mom t help me. After that we walked up to her room and turned on a favorite show The Walking Dead.

  2. 1. It is being told from first person about a time in his/her past.
    2. It is a true story about his/herself own life.
    3. A small theme is looking on the bright side.
    4. The big idea in the story is overcoming problems.
    5. Some themes are his mom and his disease.

    Memoir (Continued):
    The soft music rang in my ears, but soon, it was over. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the host of the show, started to speak. His voice rang loud and clear, so lifelike that it seemed like he was in the room with me (but, honestly, that won't happen. I mean, come on!!!!!) He started talking about the Big Bang Theory. Apparently, the big bang happened everywhere. There was no space around it. It was the whole universe until it expanded. He went on and on about the history of the universe and how vast it really is. He showed the history of everything on a calendar. Each month was worth around 1 billion years. I was enchanted by all of the knowledge.

    1. The story has lots of feeling, and I like how much work you put into it. Nice Job! *.* ^.^

    2. 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6 ^.^ ^.^ ^.^ ^.^

    3. I love how you put some internal thinking, Double G! It shows me what your emotions were in this memoir!

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  4. 1. This is a memoir, because the child is talking about an important part of his life. To be specific a period that changed his life forever.

    2. The fact that the child is talking about a time in his life, and a special person, place, object, and/or a strong feeling.

    3. Some small ideas are: remembering the good not the bad, playing a game to keep his mind off of scary things, and spending quality time with his mom.

    4. That the child was very sick, but only remembers the good parts, and get very close to his mom.

    5. To every cloud there is a silver lining.

    6. I don't have a memoir to share, because I didn't know we were writing them.

  5. 1. It is about someones deep, deep feelings from their past, and what they experienced, either good or bad.
    2. It is a true story from someones life, and it is something that has feeling.
    3. A small theme is that you're making a bad situation, into a good one.
    4. The big idea is crossing the obstacle of having leukemia and overcoming it.
    5. Some themes are that your'e doing something unique, and you're having a good time, even with leukemia.

    2nd Draft:

    I was at my house, playing with my cat, Riki. I would usually play with her laser, and she would try to catch it, which was funny to watch. She wouldn’t even know that I was controlling the laser, and she wouldn’t even look at me because she thought I wasn’t controlling it.
    A few moments later, Riki spots something, with her sharp eye, and ammideatley spring off into action. In my head I thought “What is this cat doing?”. I walked outside, and Riki wasn’t in my sight. Of course, she was just trying to catch a lizard. “You silly cat” I said with a smile. She loves lizards, so this wasn’t surprising to me. You see, she is totally an outdoor cat. Her middle name is outdoors.
    The next day, I got picked up at school by my dad. He has a bright, blue car, and I hopped right into it. “Hey Kyle, how was your day?”. “It was good” I replied. This was my usual answer because there wasn’t really a lot of really exciting days, or bad ones.
    We arrived at the house, and I just wanted to see Riki. I ran down the stairs like a mad man. My hands opened the door as fast as possible. I was puzzled today, because Riki is usually waiting for me next to the door. I run over to mom and ask her quickly “Where is Riki?”. “Kyle, Riki’s gone” she replies with a sorrow face on. I point my head down, and feel all these bad emotions that I wish would just go away. It feels like I just got thrown into a hole of deep, deep, darkness. Riki, was gone.

    1. Your memoir is so descriptive!!!!!! Great Job!!!!!!!^.^ *.* 6.6

    2. I love how you described your sadness and how you felt like you were falling in deep, deep, darkness. It shows me that you were really depressed.

  6. 1. It is about a personal experience that changed him
    2. It is about a strong feeling and a special person and the fact that it is true
    3. The penny pitch game and him spending time with his mother
    4. That he could make bad things like having leukemia turn into good things like spending time with his mom
    5. Remember the good things not the bad things

    1. Here is my forgotten memoir
      As I stepped into my first soccer practice every I felt like there were little sumo wrestlers in my chest and I had a potato as a brain. I had been running scenarios in my head for a while now and most of them were not good. I took a deep breath then stepped on to the green huge soccer field. After practice I felt pretty good with myself I wasn't the best but I think I was up there but what mattered most was that I was improving and that is why I was there.

    2. Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  7. 1. It has been told in first person about a time in his/her past.
    2. It's a true story, it'snot made up
    3. His mother using her shoes for baseball mounts, and all his'her visits to the hospital
    4. I think the big idea in this story is that overcoming fear isn't so bad
    5. Always fight for what you believe for.

    Memoir (Continued/ #2nd draft)

    The last time I saw my amazing friends in Singapore

    My foot stepped over the rainbow line on the floor of classroom 372 in UWCSEA international school in Singapore, Asia. As I entered the room, I can’t really describe it, but all my feeling where mixing up inside of me, like someone was baking a cake with a lot of different ingredients. As I entered the classroom I kept hearing all my friends and classmates saying "OMG I can't wait for summer" over and over again. Do you know how annoying it is to come into a room (on your last day of school) hearing everyone saying the same sentence again and again. I felt like someone who didn’t know how to make the movie run all on their own! I met up with my friends after I dropped my things in my locker, what really upset me was I was leaving my amazing friends and my AMAZING school, and my best friends left one day earlier. The day kept getting shorter and shorter until........ The last hour of school popped around the corner. We watch a movie about a "magical board game” so fake! Right then and there, was that noise. The noise I SO didn't want to hear. The END OF SCHOOL BELL☹. I wandered out of the classroom with my head hung low so no one could see the small tear trickling down my pale face .All my friends ran up to me and started hugging me to death. As I moved to the door they "unleashed" themselves from me and said their goodbyes and then came the really bad part. Saying goodbye to my closest my friends, Izzy gave me a huge hug and said " Email me" and walked out crying. I just wanted to run after her and we both would have had a nice, last cry together. Then I said to my second best friend, I was kind of calmer this time, I whispered to bella “see you after school for the sleepover". After that I said my final goodbye to the school and walked onto the bus. I said one thing to myself "change is a good thing!" and disappeared from the school.

    1. I finished my draft yesterday so I just added more today

  8. 1. Memoirs have a feeling in them that changed your life to a whole new level.
    2. It's personal, the author is the narrarator and main character, there is a main idea on what the story is really about.
    3. Turning Lemons Into Lemonade (making the worst into the best).
    4. Grattitude for overcoming leukemia.
    5. Focusing on the positive.

    New Draft
    Everyone was dashing through the hall, hurtling to the drop off line or dashing to the parking lot. Cars rolled in as people walked kids out of the busy school. I was dashing for my mom as she opened the parking lot gate for some staff and parents. Apparently she was waiting for a moment to surprise me with something special.
    “ Your teacher asked us if we would take Nutmeg home to keep forever.” my sister, Maddie blurted out.
    Madeline is my sort-of-annoying little sister who when I was in 3rd grade, she was about 4.

    1. I'm seeing some fantastic word choice within these early drafts from all the Fireballs. I would like to see more internal thinking and the themes play out more in everyone's memoir.

    2. I really like the word choice and how you described your little sister, Madeline, General!

  9. 1. This is a memoir because it is a memory from his childhood about his mother.
    2. It is a personal narrative because he is telling the story about himself.
    3. How he liked being with his mom.
    4. He fights his sickness by not staying inside but by playing games with his mom.
    5. When life gives you lemons you squeeze them no matter how sour they are.


    1. Draft 2
      One hot Summer day in June I come out onto the field ready to play some ball. My team and I are all ready to win this playoff game and we knew we have to work together to win the battle. I put on all my gear including my shin guards, chest protector,and mask. I was catcher and my friend Evan was pitcher. The first two batters were base on balls ( walked), and the third got a base hit. Now the bases were loaded and there was a full count against our rival team the Ravens. Evan was really nervous about this last pitch. I walked out to the mound with my mask off and told him "you can do this just go slow and throw accurate." I walk back to my position,my shin guards were banging together, I was as nervous as Evan. Would I make the right call? Then the next pitch. "Strike three!" the umpire yelled. As fast as I could threw my mask on the ground, ran up to the pitchers mound and gave Evan a big high-five.

  10. 1. A memoir is a memoir because it has a feeling in that person that has changed throughout the story and at the end there is a big change in emotions and thoughts.
    2. The story is told in first person with internal thinking and the character expresses his feelings more often when it is a personal narrative.
    3. A small idea in the story is the character's leukemia and how the mom and the boy made the penny pitching game.
    4. The big idea in the story is how the little boy tries to fight the leukemia.
    5. Remembering the positive and forgetting the negative.

    Memoir Start (Sorry, I couldn't do in yesterday!): "AHHHHH!" I screamed in my head. Why, why, WHY could I not make this dumb animation? I pound my fist on my brown desk and slammed the computer shut as I clenched my teeth. Then, I remembered what I tell myself, calm down and let the thoughts flow. I push out my white chair and spin around really fast. For some strange reason, it helped me focus and it let new ideas and resolutions fly into my head like a feather slowly touching the ground except my head is the ground and the feather is the ideas. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply and thought to myself, I can do this, I can do this! I slowly opened my computer where Scratch opened with all the codes on the left. (to be continued)


  11. 1.This is a memoir because it is a real story from his/her life.

    2.real story of his/her life, no title and ,narrative.

    3.Remembering the visits to the doctor

    4.Playing penny pitching with your mom with the “leukemia

    5.always if something is bad fight to make it better.

    My Memoir

    After we came home, I did all of my home work and then I started to work on “The Blender” it was hard, at first but I kept on trying to do it and it go easier and easier. So by the time I had to go to sleep I was pretty convinced that I was too good for the class(I was good even before the classes).Anyways, the next day I got up bright and early to go to the classes and learn other moves, So we were at the class and we waited in the waiting room. When it was time we learned a new move called the “Foot work”,(It’s where if you had a dance battle that is what you would usually start with) so the same thing happened I went home and finished my homework, and when I was done I started to practice the “Foot work” and when I was done I was pretty much awesome at that too.