Narrative Writing

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The lesson introduces students to writing personal narratives. The lesson provides instruction and suggestions to help students think of ideas and add details to their own stories. Beginning with this sort of writing allows students to make a personal connection with the assignment, which will allow them to develop their personal style and voice. The work can be used as a base for other forms of narrative writing.

Narrative Writing (Part 1) Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Narrative Writing
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice Narrative Writing
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Description

The lesson introduces students to writing personal narratives. The lesson provides instruction and suggestions to help students think of ideas and add details to their stories. Beginning with this sort of writing allows students to make a personal connection with the assignment, which will allow them to develop their personal style and voice. The work can be used as a base for other forms of narrative writing.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:   Warm up activity: Call students to the front of the room. Explain that today you are going to read an example of  “Slice of Life” writing. Define this term as  when writers choose to write about one memorable event in their lives. This is a type of personal narrative, a personal story that is true. It can be something very happy or very sad. It can be something extremely memorable that only happened once in a person’s life, or something important to them that is common. The main thing is that the personal narrative shows a “slice of life”.

  1. Choose a personal narrative to read aloud to your students. You can use any appropriate personal narrative mentor text I recommend “My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother” or “Meteor”, both by respected author Patricia Polacco. Here are links where you can access a reading of the books. http://www.storylineonline.net/books/my-rotten-redheaded-older-brother/ , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYjLJoq2f0c , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcrH2F_dnZA
  2. After having read or viewed the personal narrative, ask your students to identify features of the story that help classify it as a personal narrative. Through discussion, guide your students to notice that a personal narrative is written in the first person, focuses on one particular event, large or small, and provides an account of an event that actually happened (it’s true, not fictional).
  3. Create an anchor chart that includes these points, but leave a good portion blank. You will want to add to this chart on Day Two. For day one, it should resemble something like this:

 

Creating a great “Slice of Life” Personal Narrative
1.      Write about a true event that happened to you, keeping events in order.

2.      The event can be large or small, happy or serious,  but you should remember it well and feel able to write a good deal about it.

3.      Write in the first person, as if you are reliving the event for your audience! Use words like “I, me, my, and mine” to indicate that you are the who experienced the event.

 

 

  1. Students will complete activity page one, where they will create a Brainstorm list of topics that they personally feel would work for their “Slice of Life” personal narrative.
  2. After completing the brainstorming activity page, students will share ideas in a small group, and by the end of the first class period, select a topic to write about. Meet with each student briefly to make sure they are selecting appropriate topics that will work for your class.
  3. Day Two: Read through the points of the anchor chart to review before reading a second personal narrative. I recommend using one Patricia Polacco story on the first day and the other on the second, but any strong personal narrative can be used.
  4. After reading, discuss what else both personal narratives contain to make them engaging and entertaining to the reader. What helps the readers feel as though they are really experiencing the event that the author described? Description is the key word! Help students to notice descriptive elements such as strong sensory details (sights, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes) associated with the event. Dialogue tags can also provide clues to emotions of those at the event. Lastly, details are important. The right balance of details provides insight to the events of the narrative, while not overwhelming the reader with every tiny piece of information. Add this information to the anchor chart so it now resembles the one below:
Creating a great “Slice of Life” Personal Narrative
1.      Write about a true event that happened to you, keeping events in order.

2.      The event can be large or small, happy or serious,  but you should remember it well and feel able to write a good deal about it.

3.      Write in the first person, as if you are reliving the event for your audience! Use words like “I, me, my, and mine” to indicate that you are the who experienced the event.

4.      Include sensory details that help the audience understand your event. Focus on details that include sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, such as “I felt the slippery pebbles under my feet as I inhaled the salty sea air.”

5.      Provide the right balance of details to describe the event fully, without overwhelming the reader with every piece of information. Provide details that create a good picture for your audience.

6.      Dialogue tags. If you include dialogue in your piece, include a variety of dialogue tags to help you convey the emotions you felt or that others in your narrative felt. Instead of using the words “said” or “asked”, use dialogue tags like laughed, sighed, shouted, etc.

 

  1. Students will complete a planning sheet (Practice sheet) before writing the rough draft.
  2. Allow a class period for student to write the rough draft  of their “Slice of Life” personal narratives.
  3. During writing, confer with students. Partner students who are finished to complete peer editing before coming back to you for a final conference.
  4. Assign the final draft to be completed as homework, but allow a period of time in class for finishing touches.
  5. Set up an author’s chair for students to sit in while reading and have students take turns sharing personal narratives. If it works better for you to split the class into small groups to share, divide them into two groups with an author’s chair for each.
  6. Quiz: Students will identify elements of a successful personal narrative, and then choose a topic from the list to write their own personal narrative. The topics will be broad enough that all students should be able to complete them successfully, but feel free to assign another topic or free choice.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3, W.5.3 and W.6.3, , CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.D, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.D

Class Sessions (45 minutes): several class sessions

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Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

Subject

Language Arts