Thursday, October 18, 2012

Writing Narratives: Plan, Practice, Write

We had an earthquake here in New Hampshire last night.  We don't typically get earthquakes in my neck of the woods, so I suspected the kids would be excited about it, and would want to talk about it.  I have to admit, I took full advantage of it!

I did manage to find a few informational texts in our school library.

I also took this opportunity to work on writing narratives, specifically, this Common Core Standard: W.2.3.  Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, including details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order and provide a sense of closure.

I thought the best way to get to this writing standard was through this Speaking and Language Standard:  SL2.4  Tell a story or a recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

I've always find that in order for children to write a narrative, they need to be able to tell a narrative.  Telling the story first helps the child get his/ her thought organized in order to sit down and write the story.  I've also found that graphic organizers help the children get their thoughts ready for telling the story.

This method works for any sort of experience, but my students were excited to talk about the earthquake, so I used that excitement to my advantage!  This is how we did it:
Click image to download graphic organizer.

  1. After talking about their experiences, I modeled using the graphic organizer to record the main events of my own "earthquake" experience.
  2. Then I modeled how to use the graphic organizer to guide the retelling of my experience in an organized fashion.  As I told my story, I made it clear how I was feeling during the experience, as I know the brain connects to feelings.
  3. I had the children fill in a word or two (or a picture) for the graphic organizer, indicating the order of events for their experience.  
  4. Children shared, using the organizer as a guide, with 2 or 3 different partners.
I always learn from my students.  Today I learned that we need to work on openers and closures.  

Tomorrow we will review, then the children will write their stories.  Of course, they'll have the option of retelling some other experience they had.  (I did have two children who didn't feel the earthquake, so they retold another experience.)  Something tells me most of them will stay with their earthquake stories!

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