Mindful Memory

May 15, 2020

For the following lesson plan, you will need a photograph, one that you can show digitally as well as share with students to use at home. I used the photo above (a scene from nature without any people in it), but you can choose anything, and the lesson can be repeated with different photographs and writing prompts. This lesson was designed for in-person work, but it can be converted to work remotely. Instead of projecting it on the screen in your classroom, you can use the “Share My Screen” feature in your digital platform to show the picture.

Learning Goals:

Students will draw connections between visual information and textual explanations. 

Students will practice creative thinking and narrative writing.

Mindfulness Goal:

Students will draw connections between memory and visual stimuli.

Teacher Says: “Before today’s class is over, we’re going to begin your next writing project, which will be based on a photograph. Please take out a sheet of notebook paper and a pen.”

[as students are doing this, show the photograph on the screen]

“Now, look closely at this image, noting important details or anything you find interesting. You don’t need to worry about memorizing the image, but try to take a mental picture.”

[allow students to look at the image for about one minute; notice any students who look away or seem disinterested; after one minute, stop showing the image]

“I invite you to close your eyes. If you don’t feel comfortable with your eyes closed, then focus on a point on your desk or table. Try to see the image I just showed you. Focus your memory and try to re-see the same image in your mind’s eye.”

[allow students to remain this way for about one minute]

“Open your eyes or bring your awareness back and find your notebook paper and pen. I’m going to show you the image one more time. I want you to look at it for a moment, and then write down your reaction to seeing the image. How does it look now compared to what it looked like in your mind’s eye? There is no right or wrong answer. Simply allow your memory and your reaction to seeing the image again flow onto the paper. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This is stream-of-consciousness writing.”

[time the students; they should keep writing without stopping for at least one minute; try to take note of any students who seem to have difficulty with this amount of time]

“You may put your pens down.” 

[if time allows, ask for any volunteers to share their thoughts about the experience]

“Please keep the stream-of-consciousness writing you just did; you will turn it in along with your homework project.”

Homework Project Description:

For your at-home project, you will use the photograph we focused on today as inspiration for a short story of your own. You will write a narrative that uses the photograph as the setting of the story. Your events and characters can be real or imagined. You are free to be as creative as you like. The only rule is that you must use the photograph in some way in your prose—you can describe particular aspects of it or go into detail about the photograph as a whole. Using your words, create a vivid image of the scene shown in the photograph for the reader of your story. The rest of your narrative is completely up to you.

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