The Spaces Between Your Fingers

SBYF will challenge your students to think like writers and transform the “ordinary” moments in their lives into narrative scenes.  They will also be helping to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.  We recommend first reading/assigning our storybook and browsing our Memory Library as a way of introducing SBYF.

Note: this is our “In Class” Memory Postcard exercise, where the students will write their own memories.

Use this guide if your students are going to be interviewing a parent/grandparent/senior.

Link to the storybook.

Before the workshop, everyone needs:

  • A pen or pencil
  • Paper
  • A partner
  • One hour (roughly)

 

1 Memory Partners (10 mins)

To get started, divide your students into Memory Partners and have them interview one another.  Instruct them to write down the answers in bullet points on a blank sheet of paper.  Encourage them to listen closely and ask follow-up questions, like a good interviewer would.  “When in doubt, just keep asking questions.”

Note: Students should conduct one full interview (5 mins), then switch roles and do the second (5 mins).

 

 2 “Zooming in” (10 mins)

After the interviews, have each student choose just ONE special story that their partners told them.  It should be the most fun story, or the most unique.  The one that no one else will have.

Now ask a series of follow-up questions about that story, with a special emphasis on the characters and the setting.  Again, just keep asking questions and scribble down the answers in bullet points.

 

 3 Write the Scene (15 minutes)

From these basic elements – character and setting – your students now have everything they need to create a Memory Postcard.  The twist is that they’re going to write the postcard from their partner’s point of view.  They’re going to put themselves in their partner’s shoes and tell their story in the first person.  Here are the guidelines:

How long?  Half-page to a page.

Best way to write it?  First person, present tense.

Title:  Greetings from ___________

Tips:

  • Make something interesting happen right away.
  • Missing a key detail?  Make it up.  The important thing is to capture how it felt.
  • Don’t forget to describe the characters.
  • Include at least one simile or metaphor…but no cliches!

 4 Read Back the Postcard

Now have your students share the finished postcards.  It’s a fun experience to hear your memory being told in someone else’s voice.

If your students are over 13, and have permission from home, they can add their own memories to the SBYF Library, using our free Memory Postcard Generator.  They can also scan and upload original artwork to go with their stories.  If your students are under age 13, you should create the final postcards using your account, and only use the students’ first names.

Note: Students should NOT include personal photographs, only illustrations.  It’s more fun to draw the scene, anyway.  (Even if you can’t draw.   Especially if you can’t draw.)

EXTRA CREDIT!

-Have your students write one of their own Memory Postcards for homework, then revise in class with a partner, then publish.

-Have your students interview their parents/grandparents, thus encouraging them to learn more about their family history.

-SBYF can be used as a recurring writing exercise, so students create a whole bundle of memory postcards.  You can print out the final postcards and make them into a book.

-Check out the writing tutorials from our founder Matthew Ross Smith.

-Please spread the word to other teachers & administrators!

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