narrative memoir

Requirements: Finished Draft, 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced.

Audience: this class and this teacher (me)


In his essay, “And Then I Went to School,” Joseph Suina tells his readers that his grandmother showered him with praise and made him feel like the “Indian Mr. Universe.” However, once he entered school, he saw himself differently. Write a reflective* narrative essay explaining how an experience in school made you feel more or less confident as a student. Provide several significant examples or a single, richly detailed example to illustrate how this experience affected you. You may, but are not required to, use examples from Suina’s essay to help explain your own story. If you do, be sure to follow MLA guidelines for citations.

*by definition reflection requires some distance from the event, so you need to choose an event that took place at minimum several years ago.


Your purpose in writing this essay is to inform your reader, by example, how the actions of others can affect individuals either positively or negatively.

My purpose in assigning this essay is to give you the opportunity to focus on development and clear coherent expression by working only with your own ideas and experience.

The Scoring Rubric will be posted on Canvas.

Free Write Sketches and Zero Draft Assignments (Please do not begin these parts of the assignment until we have started them in class.)

–Freewrite Sketches

Step One— (if you know exactly what you plan to write about, you can skip step one) Set a timer and write brainstorm for 2 or 3 minutes a list of possible experiences for this assignment. If absolutely nothing comes to mind, write in sentences, without stopping, starting with “I have never had an experience in school that made me feel good or bad about myself as a student….” and see what comes next. Step Two—Choose one of the possible stories to use for this assignment. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start writing. Don’t worry about spelling, mechanics, details or word choice—don’t stop for anything—just keep going. Repeat this for two other possible stories for this assignment. Bring this work to class. (You’re welcome to do this by hand or using a word processor.)

–Zero Draft

Think of the zero draft as a slightly more focused version of the freewrite sketches above. You should now know what you are writing about. Using the developed work from class, work to get the whole story on the page. This means beginning, middle, and end. Although this doesn’t have to be written entirely as freewriting—many people find it helpful to start this way. You should plan to spend 45 minutes writing, although of course it’s fine to go longer.

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