Day 4: Inhabiting Memories

The first lesson in our personal memory unit! We experience memories all of the time, but today’s class is about dehabituating those experiences and critically reflecting about what it means to remember and what it feels like. This is a really fun first introduction to these ideas!

Goals: for us to get a sense for what it feels like to inhabit a memory

Here’s everything you will need:


  • The small group storytelling circle is the most important piece of this class. Be prepare to explain it clearly to your students so that they know what is going on. It’s important that they don’t have much time to choose a memory before they start explaining it to their group. It should be a rapid ~10 second decision and then they should start sharing with their group. I would also suggest that you give students the option to opt out if they don’t want to share – you can always merge groups if someone in one group doesn’t feel comfortable sharing.

As always, please offer comments and suggestions in the comments below to help others who may want to use this lesson.

Day 5: Memory and Senses

Lesson 5 is an immersion into the different sensorial components of personal memory, specifically highlighting memories of smell, taste, touch, and sound. Through this class, you can expand the awareness of your students in their own remembering.

Goals: for us to gain an appreciation for the sensory experience of remembering.

Here is your guide:


  • As the course starts to become more discussion-based, think about how you want to conduct class discussions. Do you want students to raise their hands? Do you prefer doing small-group discussions or whole-class discussions? Do you want to lead more structured discussions or do you want to create a more free-form conversation space?

Day 6: Forgetting

Many people often assume that forgetting is an inherently bad thing. This class aims to complicate that assumption, posing specific scenarios and ideas to students that will hopefully push them to develop more complex understandings of forgetting.

Goals: for everyone to understand why forgetting things is necessary and also important.

Important note: before teaching this lesson, I would strongly suggest reading “Funes the Memorious” by Jorge Luis Borges.


  • The debate is the most complicated part of this lesson in terms of preparation and explanation. From my own experience, I would recommend only conducting a debate-style activity for 10th graders and older, being sure to thoroughly explain what debates are, what this one will look like, and how students should prepare in their groups for the debate (prepping their own arguments as well as counter-arguments against the opposing group). For younger classes, I would recommend potentially transforming the scenarios into slightly longer stories that students could read and discuss in small groups or with the whole class.
  • If you have extra time at the end of the class, consider showing the movie trailer for “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” linked in the lesson guide. There is one moment in the commercial where a character curses, so be prepared to mute the trailer during that moment.

Day 7: Memories from Different Perspectives

This is an important and really fun lesson that starts to bridge personal memories with collective memory. My students also seemed to really engage with the oral histories while offering thoughtful and critical reflections.

Goals: for everyone to understand what it feels like to experience a memory from someone else’s perspective.


  • Remembering and reflecting on 9/11 may be emotionally draining for you or for your students. If you would prefer, feel free to switch this to another kind of oral history. If you elect to listen to these histories, I would strongly encourage that you preface the activity by providing a historical understanding of the event, alerting students to the heavy material that they are going to engaging with, asking for thoughtful and respectful ideas, and giving students the option to step out for this part of the class.
  • The 10-minute discussion that happens after students listen to a few oral histories independently starts laying a critical foundation for students to understand the various threads of personal memory that get woven into collective memory. It is important for students to understand that much of what we know about the past comes from reconstructing many, many experiences from those times. Focusing on the different perspectives and what those perspectives reveal to us about a past event/time is very important.
  • Before the weekend, ask students to begin collecting potential building materials for their final projects. These may include recyclables, boxes, legos, etc. The project itself likely won’t begin until week 4, but it is helpful for students to start collecting materials now so they don’t have to buy anything.