I’m glad you found this site. Contained within these virtual pages are a blueprint and resources for teaching a 19-lesson elective course on memory.
Let me tell you a bit about this class. I designed it during the summer of 2021 for a summer enrichment program based in New Haven, CT. This program invites local middle school students to spend 5 weeks taking elective-style courses taught by local college students; it also includes daily summer camp activities. It’s a really unique program and I was so fortunate to be able to work with those amazing, brilliant students.
For this program, I designed two courses: one on storytelling and one on memory. As you can probably tell, this course that I am sharing with you is the same memory course I shared with my students. It was originally designed for a small (~15 student) class of 8th and 9th graders. It begins with a 3-day crash course on the biological basis of memory. The course then explores personal memory – the experience of remembering, what it means to forget, and memory from other peoples’ perspectives – before moving on to collective memory. This is where the class gets really cool: you can really take this course in so many directions. For this first iteration of the course, my students investigated trauma, healing, and the writing of history. We ended the class by exploring the various media of memory – photography, objects, memorials and monuments, and cemeteries.
Broadly, the class aims to teach students foundational neuroscience and give students an appreciation for how people remember the past, both individually and collectively (and you can read more about that here). More importantly, this course was designed to give students a fun and engaging summer experience. It was about creating community, relationships, and – you guessed it! – memories (here I mean this literally). The class was a success in many ways and if I was to do it again, there is so much I would do differently.
My goal here is to provide you, whether you are an instructor or a family member or a community member, with the framework and resources to teach an engaging class about memory. So, here is what this guide contains:
- Lesson plans for 19 classes about different topics in memory*
- Presentations to aid you in teaching lessons on neurobiology and nostalgia
- Materials and ideas for many, many activities oriented around memory
- Resources for an extended creative project/assignment
- My own narrative recommendations for making the course a deeply meaningful experience
*This class was built around the schedule of the summer program. As such, the lessons are designed for meeting 4 days a week for 5 weeks, with each lesson lasting an hour and 15 minutes.
Here is one last thing I would like to add. I’ve learned many things about education, my instruction style, and how students engage with memory over this past summer. Because of this, I have edited my materials slightly (so they are better for your future classes) and have provided suggestions to change/modify the course throughout this site. Please use it to your discretion. All of this is for you, if you want to use it. I also hope that if you discover that something works really well or doesn’t work at all, please include that in the comments below to help the people who will come after you.
Here’s your next step: click on this link to access the course outline and progression of lesson plans.
Good luck on this adventure!