This just happens to be a process that has worked for me. They hear and tell stories all the time. They omit relevant details, but go on and on about irrelevant ones. Their dialogue is bland. So the first step in getting good narrative writing from students is to help them see that they are already telling stories every day.
They gather at lockers to talk about that thing that happened over the weekend. They sit at lunch and describe an argument they had with a sibling. Students are natural storytellers; learning how to do it well on paper is simply a matter of studying good models, then imitating what those writers do. So start off the unit by getting students to tell their stories. In journal quick-writes, think-pair-shares, or by playing a game like Concentric Circles , prompt them to tell some of their own brief stories: A time they were embarrassed.
A time they lost something. By telling their own short anecdotes, they will grow more comfortable and confident in their storytelling abilities.
They will also be generating a list of topic ideas. And by listening to the stories of their classmates, they will be adding onto that list and remembering more of their own stories.
And remember to tell some of your own. Step 2: Study the Structure of a Story Now that students have a good library of their own personal stories pulled into short-term memory, shift your focus to a more formal study of what a story looks like.
Use a diagram to show students a typical story arc like the one below. Then, using a simple story—like this Coca Cola commercial —fill out the story arc with the components from that story. Step 3: Introduce the Assignment Up to this point, students have been immersed in storytelling.
Now give them specific instructions for what they are going to do. Share your assignment rubric so they understand the criteria that will be used to evaluate them; it should be ready and transparent right from the beginning of the unit. As always, I recommend using a single point rubric for this. This should be a story on a topic your students can kind of relate to, something they could see themselves writing.
They will be reading this model as writers, looking at how the author shaped the text for a purpose, so that they can use those same strategies in their own writing. Have them look at your rubric and find places in the model that illustrate the qualities listed in the rubric.
Then have them complete a story arc for the model so they can see the underlying structure. Ideally, your students will have already read lots of different stories to look to as models. Keep in mind that we have not read most of these stories, so be sure to read them first before adopting them for classroom use. Click the image above to view the full list of narrative texts recommended by Cult of Pedagogy followers on Twitter.
If you have a suggestion for the list, please email us through our contact page. Step 5: Story Mapping At this point, students will need to decide what they are going to write about. A skilled writer could tell a great story about deciding what to have for lunch. Have students complete a basic story arc for their chosen topic using a diagram like the one below.
This will help them make sure that they actually have a story to tell, with an identifiable problem, a sequence of events that build to a climax, and some kind of resolution, where something is different by the end. Again, if you are writing with your students, this would be an important step to model for them with your own story-in-progress.
Step 6: Quick Drafts Now, have students get their chosen story down on paper as quickly as possible: This could be basically a long paragraph that would read almost like a summary, but it would contain all the major parts of the story. Model this step with your own story, so they can see that you are not shooting for perfection in any way.
What you want is a working draft, a starting point, something to build on for later, rather than a blank page or screen to stare at. The time I saw the weirdest thing in my life. My most frightening experience. If I could change one thing about me. If I had a billion dollars. If I could stop the time. The most beautiful thing in the world for me. The most pleasant sound for me.
My first day at a new school. The time I lost my friend. The time I got a new friend. My first day at a new job. My most disastrous day ever. My happiest day ever. The most irritating things in my life. An experience that left me disillusioned.
How I met my fear. The moment I overcome my phobia. My most dangerous experience. The journey that has changed me. The experience that taught me how appearance can be deceiving. My act of heroism. A thing I would like to change in my past.
My first month of living on my own. The most successful day in my life. The time I was wrong about the person. My sudden act of a kindness. What my younger sibling taught me. How I started relationships. The worst quarrel with my mother. An experience I thought I would never have.
Why do I like being alone? What challenges have I overcome? How do I relieve stress? What do I do when I feel depressed.
When my students asked why we read novels and stories, and why we wrote personal narratives and fiction, my defense was pretty lame: I probably said something about the importance of having a shared body of knowledge, or about the enjoyment of losing yourself in a book, or about the benefits of having writing skills in general. With a narrative essay, the writer not only entertains the reader but also teaches him, illustrating his point of view with a real-life example. Step 7: Plan the Pacing Now that the story has been born in raw form, students can begin to shape it. Then have them complete a story arc for the model so they can see the underlying structure. Model this step with your own story, so they can see that you are not shooting for perfection in any way. Our do my homework for me service ready to assist you.
A time they lost something. What challenges have I overcome?
If I could change anything in the history, what would I choose?
My most dangerous experience. The role clubs and teams play in my life.
You should always remember that even a tiny event or incident could serve a plot for an interesting narrative story. And remember to tell some of your own. My first day at a new job. Beyond the standard hand-in-for-a-grade, consider other ways to have students publish their stories. The time I learned that grammar is necessary.
The time I lost my friend. The experience that taught me how appearance can be deceiving.
The line between fact and fiction has always been really, really blurry, but the common thread running through all of it is good storytelling. There is a number of helpful techniques helping to invent an essay topic. Over 50, teachers have already joined—come on in!
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My happiest day ever. So the first step in getting good narrative writing from students is to help them see that they are already telling stories every day.