Writing about your own experiences can be a good starting point for many students, especially reluctant writers. However, you need to keep the task manageable and provide sufficient structure and support so that students learn some skills from the activity, rather than it just becoming a writing test!

The underlying premise should be that ‘less is best’. It is better for students to write a small amount of well-structured interesting information, rather than writing a large quantity of poorly written text. Modeling should also be an integral part of this process.

A significant moment

Choose a dramatic or exciting moment in your life and introduce it with a strong visual image.

“Like a rope uncoiling, the bright green snake slowly unwound itself from around the branch and …”

A conversation

Think about a time when you had an interesting or inspiring conversation. Begin the writing with dialogue and then go onto explain the impact it had on your life.

“This is for you son,” said my father holding out a parcel wrapped in brown paper…

A place

Write about a place to which you have a strong emotional connection (positive or negative). Try to capture the smells and the sounds in addition to your visual memories. Be descriptive, explicit and detailed.

“Footsteps echoed down the tiled hospital corridor as the hospital staff hurried from one room to the next. The smell of antiseptic irritated my nose ….

A thought or observation

This could be a reflection of your own life or a comparison of your own life to another place or time.

“Their childhood was full of misery and suffering, bloated stomachs from insufficient food and silent crying from untreated infection. My life in comparison was one of luxury and indulgence, even when I ranted at my parents for ….

Earliest memory

The age of your first memory is different for different people. Write about your earliest memory and why it was significant.

Greatest achievement

Write in the form of a newspaper article.

Alphabet life

Write different parts of your life story in alphabetical order.

A-Ants crawled over my legs feasting on my flesh as I lay sleeping on a picnic rug under a tree.

B-Betty, my aunt, accompanied me from shop to shop as I tried on dress after dress, trying to find the perfect outfit.


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