Brenda's Senior Memory Book

Okay Gang, here is the first semester senior memory book assignment. Since I adapted my assignment from Harry Livermore's, a fellow Georgia teacher, feel free to adapt to your little heart's content.

Brenda Kukla
Collins Hill High School
Suwanee, Georgia


This semester, we will write the first eight chapters of your Senior Memory Book. Each chapter will be evaluated separately, and the final book will be evaluated for an overall grade at the end of the second semester. By that time, you should have gotten a large photo album or binder of some sort. Begin, throughout the semester, putting the first 8 chapters, as they are returned to you, into the book in an attractive way, along with illustrations for each chapter. This will save you time at the end of the school year.

Each chapter will include a Resource Page, which lists all the sources you used for that particular chapter and a one-two sentence description of the results of each bit of research. The major grade, however, will be a piece of writing, which will be graded for content, organization, development, and accuracy in mechanics. This means that you need to proofread and edit before turning the piece in for a grade! Note that I expect final drafts, not rough drafts, as each chapter is turned in, preferably typed. You may also incloude pictures, items you have collected over the years, examples of your schoolwork, etc. with each chapter, or you may choose to wait and turn all these in with the final project. No extra credit will be given for including these items, so it's up to you. You will be given a folder in which you will turn in each chapter. As the folder is returned to you with the marked rubric, you will remove that chapter and use the folder for the next chapter.

Due dates for each chapter will be given at a later date and will NOT be subject to change.


Ch.1: "My Heritage"--Write a description of your ethnic background, being sure you include both parents' genealogy. Do some research. Turn in a list of at least three sources: individuals in your family, family history pamphlets from family reunions, library research on your name or the country from which your ancestors came, etc.

Ch.2: "Before I Was, There Were"--Write a brief description of your family tree. Include a family tree chart. Tell about folks who were around before you were born: grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, older siblings. Interview at least three people in your family who were living before you were born. Include quotes from them within your chapter. EXTRA CREDIT: Have one or more relatives write a brief reflection about your family before you were born: your parents' marriage, births of older siblings, etc.

Ch.3: "The People in My Life"--This chapter will be a collective biography. You must write a biography of at least two family members. Each biography should be at least four typed, doublespaced pages. Interview family members about their growing up and how things are different now than they were back then. You may include as many additional biographies as you want; in fact, this is a section you may want to keep coming back to throughout the schoolyear to add more information.

Ch.4: "Family Lore"--Collect at least five family stories from a variety of family members. These can be about you or about someone else in your family. You may want to try to find one story about each member of your family. You may collect these in person by actually sitting down and talking to the family member, or you may want to write, either via e-mail or regular mail, to that person. Encourage the person you talk to to be as detailed as possible and even to provide pictures if possible (photocopies are fine). Put the five stories together in whatever logical order you feel is best; write an introduction and a conclusion. Within the first paragraph of each story, or as a separate introduction if you write the story in that person's voice, identify the teller and his/her relationship to you. EXTRA CREDIT: Have one or more family members write out their own stories, in addition to the five required. It would be nice to have a variety here and in that person's own handwriting, with his/her signature. This would be especially meaningful from older relatives.

Ch5: "Suddenly, I Became Me"--When and where were you born? Were there any unusual or humorous circumstances surrounding your birth? How was your name chosen? What were the first couple of years like? (Look back at your baby book--first tooth? first word? first step? etc.) What memories do you have of your first five years? Were younger siblings born during that time? Any childhood illnesses? What are some of those stories your mom tells that you wish she didn't? Resources: baby book, family members (List these) EXTRA CREDIT: Have your mom or dad (or both) write a reflection about the time leading up to your birth, their fears, excitement, etc.

Ch 6: "School Bells"--Write about kindergarten through Grade 3--first day jitters, fears, anticipation; learning to read and write; special friends, teachers; school programs (Did you play a tree in a school production?), etc. Tell about where you lived during this time and the schools you attended. Include favorite childhood activities you enjoyed during this period of your life. How had your family changed from Ch. 5? This is a good place to include some of your early schoolwork or artwork when you put the final book together next semester. EXTRA CREDIT: If you are still in touch with any of your teachers from this period, as them to write a memory about you.

Ch7: "More School Bells"--Cover grades 4 & 5--You are the top guy on the totum pole in elementary school. Or did you move and have to start all over? You start making "best friends." Discuss how you have changed since early school years. How have you changed physically? Remember those Bugs Bunny teeth we all had in fourth grade? What new activities have you added? How has your family changed during the past few years? What do you remember about school--friends, subjects, teachers, programs, clubs, etc. Resources for this period will be family photo albums, school memory books, maybe elementary school yearbooks, parents. EXTRA CREDIT: same as Ch.6.

Ch.8: "I Grew Up Here!"--Write a chapter about your home and neighborhood. You may have moved around a bit; if so, incude information about all the homes you've lived in. Describe your bedroom over the years. How did your space change as you grew up? Describe the colors, decorations, etc. of your various rooms. What was the neighborhood like? Was there one special hangout that all the kids went to? Make the reader see the various places you lived. Resources: parents, your own memories, old pictures of various places you've lived.


It's me again. I make a rubric with the following four items, each worth 25 points: content, focus, and development organization fluency of language conventions

I give 5 points for each resource sheet turned in for a possible 40 pts. total per semester. Part Two, second semester, also has 8 chapters, counting the same as first semester. The final book is worth 200 points. Note: I use the point system and usually have around 2500 points for the semester, so this book is worth almost half, which is a lot, but they work really hard on it and really do deserve the points. This is the first year I've included the extra credit--got some of the ideas from this list.

Here is the handout I give second semester. Students turn in approximately one paper every two weeks. I maneuver around holidays, teacher work days, etc., but that is the average. I try to make the entire book due around the first of May, so we'll have time to spend looking at them and planning the reception before all the graduation hustle and bustle. Here's Part Two:


During first semester, you wrote the first eight chapters of your memory book. This semester, we will write the final eight chapters. Each chapter will be evaluated separately, and the final book will be evaluated for an overall grade at the end of the semester. By this time, you should have gotten a large photo album or binder of some sort and started organizing your pictures, old school work, momentoes, etc. with each chapter. Continue doing this as you receive each chapter back this semester.

The chapters this semester won't take quite as much research as first semester's chapters. I do want you to turn in a source page with each chapter, however. Remember that I expect final drafts for each chapter. Each chapter will be evaluated using the same rubric as first semester: content, organization, fluency, and conventions.

Due dates for each chapter will be given at a later date.


Ch.1: "Growing Pains, Crushes, and Being a Good Sport"--Write about the first crush you had. Who was it? What happened? Did you become active in sports during this time? Which ones? What were some of the "growing pains" you went through during this pre-adolescent time in your life? Your body is beginning to change; girls outgrow boys at this time; we're beginning to grow into our Bugs Bunny teeth, but our feet seem to trip us up. This is the clumsy period. How ever did you survive? Resources: mom!

Ch2: "Middle School"--Okay, you are not a "little kid" anymore. You are one of the "big kids." How was it your first day at middle school? How did you adjust from having one teacher in one classroom to having several and having to change classes? How did the work change? How did your relationships with your friends and with the opposite sex change? Tell about your teachers, activities, successes, heartbreaks, accomplishments, etc. Resources: parents, friends, old pictures, middle school yearbooks EXTRA CREDIT: Have one of your middle school teachers write a favorite memory of you to include in the book.

Ch.3: "I Wish I Could See_______Again!"--Tell about a childhood friend, neighbor, or teacher that you have no contact with any more but would like to see again. What was your relationship with this person like back then? What happened to change that? Why would you like to see this person now? What would you tell that person?

Ch4: "Besides My Parents, There Was..."--Write about the one most influential person, other than your parents, in your life. I know this is difficult to do, but don't waffle here and try to select more than one. Do some soul searching and choose the ONE person who has been MOST influential. Tell why you chose that person.

Ch5: "New Kid on the Block"--Wanta buy an elevator pass, Kid? Hey, don't mess with me or I'll stuff you in a locker. Wow! Remember those days when YOU were the new kid and it seemed as if everyone else was a whole foot taller than you? Remember coming to the BIG school and thinking you would never find your way around? How was your freshman year? What were some of your anxieties? How was the transition from middle school to high school? What were some of the myths you had heard about high school? Were any of them true? How did you manage to "fit in" to high school life--pep rallies, ballgames, homecoming, clubs, new subjects, teachers, new building, new friends? Resource: No one likes to do it, but you MUST go back to your freshman yearbook and look at your picture! EXTRA CREDIT: Have one of your freshman (or all of them) teachers write a memory for your book. Ch.6: "Sophomore Year"--Do the same thing you did with freshman year. Only now you are a little more comfortable. Write about learning to drive, beginning to date, getting that first job, becoming more involved in school. EXTRA CREDIT: Have one of your sophomore (or all of them) teachers write a memory for your book.

Ch.7: "Junior Year"--Prom, class rings, moving up the class ladder--still not at the top but within sight of it. Write about your junior year. EXTRA CREDIT: You got it--same as Ch. 5 & 6.

Ch.8: "At Last, I'm a Senior!"--Write a reflection of your senior year--sitting for your senior portrait, paying those dues, choosing graduation invitations, getting measured for cap and gown, having a locker by yourself and your own parking spot! How did it feel to go through all those "lasts"--last time for summer reading (grin), last pep rally, last football or basketball game (or other sport)? Was it everything you expected or a little different? How did YOU treat this year's freshmen? What are you feeling now, as you get ready to embark on a new chapter of your life? EXTRA CREDIT: Have one or both of your parents write a brief reflection of the past twelve years and/or have a teacher write a memory to put in your book.

EPILOGUE: "If I Could Live My Life Over Again, I would..." or "Why I Would Not Change Anything about My Life" Write at least a thoughtful, reflective paragraph.

That's it. Once I return Ch. 8 to you, all that's left is to write the Epilogue and put the finishing touches on the book as a whole. Decorate the outside to reflect who you are. I'll give you some ideas of what past students have done. Have fun! Remember, this is your legacy!