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English Language Arts Fourth Grade
Lindsay Nowaczyk Personal Narrative Unit November 2012
Considering the Context and Learners: Personal Narratives
The big idea of this writing unit is to teach students that, as writers, we can use our writing to share a personal experience from which we have learned. In this unit, student will learn writing skills that are focused on the following four questions: How do I use writing to show other people something I experienced and from which I learned? How do I use other people’s writing to learn to be a writer? How do I, as a writer, construct personal narratives based on real events? How do I use specific word choices and writing techniques to “show” my readers about my experience without “telling” them what happened? These questions promote students to learn basic writing skills that will engage their audiences and teach students to relay stories and important life messages. Personal narratives teach students to think, express ideas, and convey an experience. These skills will not only be helpful in their writing, but can also be adapted to their verbal story telling and reading. Writing personally narratives teach students to understand story structure; which can improve reading comprehension and reading with intonation. Throughout this unit, the students will learn to create a personal narrative that includes: descriptive language (“show, not tell”); individual voice; conventional spelling, punctuation, capitals and without run-on sentences; dialogue/quotes; established situation, characters, and narrator; and in sequential order. Student should be able to use multiple resources, such as dictionaries, spelling patterns, and word lists, for conventional spelling in their writing. They will consider their audience when providing interesting leads, sequencing, and providing resolutions to the problem in their narratives. Students will have to share their personal narratives with one student during the editing phase to determine what is missing and what can be explained in greater detail. Students are also expected to share their final draft to their group of 4
Nowaczyk 3 students and one student from each group will share their personal narrative with the whole class. The context of the unit falls in mid-November and continues until winter vacation. So far this year the students have spent time doing MEAP writing practice and descriptive writing based on photographs. During MEAP writing practice the students practiced writing “peer” responses to writing samples, five paragraph essays, and compare/contrast pieces. This will be the first specific unit the students will encounter in their curriculum; however, they have been doing great work on descriptive writing based on photographs. The students have been working on “show, not tell” writing techniques to allow the audiences to imagine the situation, and feel the emotions underlying in the photograph.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Nowaczyk 4 Dear Parents, Our class will be beginning an exciting new writing unit next Monday! In this unit, your student will be writing a personal narrative. Personal narrative writing tells of a personal, memorable experience or event in which the student learned an important life lesson. Personal narratives teach students to think, express ideas, and convey an experience. Also, writing personally narratives teaches students to understand story structure--which can improve reading comprehension. In this unit, students will experience writing in first person narrative instead of third person. They will use the writing process using graphic organizers for pre-writing, creating drafts, revising, and editing. The students will learn to use dialogue with proper punctuation. Students will be encouraged to show their own unique voice through the use of catchy titles, lead sentences, and through using descriptive adjectives to “show” not “tell” the audience what is happening. This unit will be completed during the writing time in the classroom. There will be no homework associated with this unit. At the end the unit, we will have an in-class publishing party to celebrate students’ accomplishments and they will read their work to their classmates. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking forward to reading and hearing about an important event in your student’s life! Sincerely,
Fourth Grade Personal Narrative Writing Unit
Stage 1: Desired Results
Established Goal(s): Students will develop cohesive writing projects attending to specific features of personal narratives (AA 4th Gr Report Card Writing Genre). Students will learn that writing is a powerful tool for sharing their life lessons through their experiences of writing a personal narrative. Big idea: We can use writing to share important life experiences from which we learned to teach others from our experiences and to express ideas. Essential Question(s): How do I use writing to show other people something I experienced and from which I learned? How do I use other people’s writing to learn to be a writer? How do I, as a writer, construct personal narratives based on real events? How do I use specific word choices and writing techniques to show my readers about my experience without “telling” them what happened? Understanding(s): Students will understand … Writers employ a range of strategies while writing; e.g., peer conferencing, adding or deleting content, using descriptive language, writing more than one draft, thinking of audience, editing for conventions. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Process) Writers exhibit individual style and voice to enhance the written message; e.g., in narrative text: strong verbs, figurative language, and sensory images; and in expository text: precision, established importance, and transitions. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Process) Writers spell words in context using multiple strategies and resources; e.g., spelling patterns, word lists, dictionaries. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Process) Writers proofread for capitals, punctuation, words that have been omitted, run-on sentences and conventional spelling. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Process)
Students will know…
Students will be able to…
• how to vary the structural pattern, length and complexity of sentences. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Process) • how to focus writing by identifying audience, point of view, and format based on purpose. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Process) • how to include relevant details to develop plot, characters, and setting of narrative text. (AA 4th Gr Outcomes, Wrtg Product) • how to use quotation marks and use commas to set off words, phrases, and dialogue. (AA 4th Gr Report Card Wrtg, Grammar and usage) • how to correctly spell words used often in reading and writing using a variety of strategies. (AA 4th Gr Report Card Wrtg, Grammar and usage) • how to, with guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.5)
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. (CCSS.ELALiteracy.W.4.3) Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3a) Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3b) Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely. (CCSS.ELALiteracy.W.4.3d) Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3e)
Stage 2: Assessment Evidence
Performance Task(s): Creates a personal narrative that includes: • Descriptive language (“show, not tell”) • Writers individual voice • Conventional spelling, punctuation, capitals, and without run-on sentences. • Dialogue/quotes with proper punctuation • Established situation, characters, and narrator. • Sequential timing • Engaging beginning and strong ending that will stay with the reader. Creates a personal narrative that considers the Other Evidence: Notes of students’ engagement in and mastery of writing Records of writing conferences for each student. Drafts of student work collected in writing folder.
Nowaczyk 7 audience. Read aloud of personal narrative to peers. Creates a list of 2-3 brainstormed events where they learned a lesson. Creates a sequential timeline.
Stage 3: Learning Experiences
Launching Lesson: Lesson 1: Generating Ideas through turning points in our lives (40 min) Objectives: Students will notice the different attributes of personal narrative text. Use first, last and important times in our own lives to find these turning point moments in our own lives. Abstract: This will be the introductory lesson to the writing genre of personal narratives. In this lesson, we will look at a mentor text (“Learning about Baseball” by Chuck Hatt; see pages 1516) and identify the different attributes of personal narrative text (see page 17). I will present examples of first, last, and important times in my own life as an example of a life lesson through the use of the “Personal Narrative Idea List” (See page 18). The students will each fill out the “Personal Narrative Idea List” (with at least 5 ideas) to generate ideas for their personal narrative. Assessment: Have students put their “Personal Narrative Idea List” into their Personal Narratives folder and turn in. Students will receive a ✓+ for 5 or more ideas and ✓- for 0 to 4 ideas. References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 6 Ann Arbor District Grade 4 - personal Narratives.doc www.pps.k12.or.us/files/curriculum/Writing_Dinder_Grade_4_Section_3.pdf p. 9 Developing Understanding/Constructing Meaning Lesson(s): Lesson 2: Brainstorming Details (40 min)(Focus Lesson) Objectives: Students will narrow down possible ideas for their personal narratives and start to brainstorm character descriptions, setting description, what happened, problem, and solution. Abstract: In this lesson, I will pick 1 idea from my “Personal Narratives Ideas List”. I will tell
Nowaczyk 8 the students a quick version of the story and write a brief description of the characters included, setting, what happened, problem, and solution. This will be the launching point for the personal narratives. Students will pick 2-3 ideas from their “Personal Narratives Ideas list” and complete the “Brainstorming Details” template (see page 19). The students will keep the templates in their writing folders. Students will be able to jump around to fill out their template. As a closing tell students often the easiest event to write about will be the better story because you have a lot to say. Have students star the one template that want to use as their personal narrative. Assessment: Have students turn in their “Brainstorming Details” templates in their writing folder at the end of the work time. ✓+ two mostly complete templates with one starred and ✓- a missing star or two templates not mostly complete. I will provide feed back about the idea by drawing a “✓” to agree with the topic and “see me” if I do not think the student has developed their idea enough. During lesson 3 work time, meet with students that have a see me on their templates. References: A sample template to use as inspiration for creating a template can be found at www.teachervision.fen.com/tv/printables/scottforesman/read_4_U1_WP.pdf. Lesson 3: Using Timelines to Plan and Develop Stories (40 min) Objectives: Students determine one event to write about and make a timeline to help plan, sequence, and revise a story. Abstract: I will explain that writers sometimes organize their thinking before writing by remembering what happened first, next, and so forth—to the end of the story—by drawing a timeline of events that happened. I will use my idea from the previous day as a model and draw a timeline on the board and write out the sequence of events for the story (including a few details that are not significant to the story). Students will fill out a blank timeline template (see page 20) for their story. During the closing, I will review my timeline with the class and use that to show how timelines can help you plan and revise your story even before I have begun to write. I will use my timeline as an example by crossing out specific parts that don’t really matter to the story. Then, I will tell the students go over their timeline and cross off events that do not really matter to their story. Collect writing folders with template. Assessment: Students will receive a ✓+ for a timeline completed in sequential order and a ✓- for a timeline not completed or not in sequential order. References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 9 p. 51 *Writing Conferences Begin—Each writer will have two 5-minute writing conferences over the next 11 days. I will do 4-5 writing conferences a day during writing time. During these conferences, we will discuss students progress, questions, and writing conventions— capitals, punctuation, format, and run-on sentences.*
Lesson 4:Drafting Your Story (80 min total-two 40 min lessons) Objectives: Students develop a draft of the story by writing fast and long, without stopping. Abstract: I will explain to students that as athletes often stretch or warm-up before a game or musicians often run through scales before practicing a piece of music, writing takes preparation. All the work they have done so far has been the preparation needed for writing their piece. Today they will begin writing their piece. Show them the writing sample that I created from my timeline. Point out that my writing sample may have spelling and grammar errors because it is the first draft and I was just trying to get my thoughts onto paper so I would not forget and that I will be able to revise it later. Tell them that today and tomorrow they will write “fast and long, without stopping” so they can record their stories quickly before they forget all the parts of the story. Tell them to not worry about spelling or word choice, but to just get what happened onto the paper. Encourage them to use their timelines to help them write their story and remember all the important parts. Once they are done, the students will go back and reread to make sure they have not forgotten any important parts in their story. Assessment: After writing on both days students will turn in their writing folders. They will get a ✓+ if they follow timeline and are missing no details from their timeline and ✓- if their writing is not in timeline order or they are missing points from their timeline. References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. pp. 11-12 Lesson 5: Creating a Catchy Title (40 min) Objectives: Students develop a catchy title to draw in the reader. Abstract: Tell students that titles can determine whether or not a reader will want to pick up the story to read it in the first place. Remind students that not only should titles be creative and catchy, but they should also reveal a little of the point of the story. Use some texts with which the students are familiar and show them that the title reveals a little of the story and catches the readers attention. Some examples are Hatchet; Sarah, Plain and Tall; Bunnicula, and The Courage of Sarah Noble. Next, provide the students with a list of less creative titles and list of creative titles (see page 21). The class will vote on which title they would want to read the story. Then the students will create titles for my piece of writing. Finally, the students will create a list of 3 possible titles for their story and star the one they like best. Assessment: Students will turn in their writing folders. They will receive a ✓+ for having 3 titles and starred their favorite and a ✓- if the assignment is not complete. References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 23
Nowaczyk 10 Lesson 6: “Show, not tell” (80 min total-two 40 min lessons) (focus lesson) Objectives: Students will incorporate the writing technique of using descriptive words to “show, not tell”. Abstract: Often as writers it is easy for us to using boring words to tell a story. Tell the students that in this lesson we are going to work on using descriptive word choice to be able to create a picture in the reader’s mind. Provide the students with the sample text from “Everything will be Okay” by James Howe. Tell students that in this text we are being told what is happening. However, there are ways to show meaning that can be done through characters actions, dialogue between characters, character’s thoughts, comparison, and descriptive language (See page 22) instead of just telling meaning. Then I will take a short selection from my personal narrative that is telling an action and, with the help of the students, rewrite it to show the meaning. The students will have the rest of this lesson and the whole writing block the next time to work on their adding of showing, not telling. At the end of day one and the beginning and end of day two have some students share work to which they have made changes in order to “show, not tell.” Have students place sticky notes to mark the place in which they worked on each day. Assessment: The students will work on a different area of their story in which to add description to “show, not tell” the actions. For each day, give the students a ✓+ if a technique from above has been used to “show, not tell” and a ✓- if they did not used a technique learned in this lesson. References: Ann Arbor District, Grade 4, Personal Narrative Curriculum. Lesson 7: Elaborating on Key Sentences (40 min) Objectives: Students will elaborate on “micro-moments” by considering when information is missing and creating longer paragraphs. Abstract: I will begin this lesson by having a piece of student work displayed under the document camera. I will tell the students that today we are going to work on elaborating by adding more details to enhance the story. We will discuss that all stories provide include the 5 W’s—who, what, where, when, and why. The audience needs to know who are there, what is going on or being said, where the characters are and details about it, when the story is happening, and we need to understand why the author has included it. We will discuss what details about the scene are “missing” and questions the readers have about the event. We will create a list of information that could be added to the student’s work. Then we will pick one missing detail and add in the details using carats. Students will then meet with a peer to read their personal narratives and tell each other 2-4 questions they have about the details of the writer’s event. The students will then spend time adding in more details to two or more areas and mark their areas of focus with sticky notes. Assessment: Students will receive a ✓+ for adding details to two or more areas and a ✓- if they only add details to 0 or 1 area in their story.
References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 20 Lesson 8: Crafting Leads (80 min total-two 40 min lessons) Objectives: Students will experiment with action, dialogue and setting leads to find a lead that draws the reader into the story and makes him/her want to keep reading. Abstract: Remind students that, over the past several days, they have been working hard to revise their stories to ”show, not tell” and add more details; however, unless someone reads the story their hard work will not matter. I will explain that is important to begin a story with a lead that really draws in the reader. We will discuss the three different types of leads (action, dialogue, and setting) and see examples of each (see page 23). We will discuss what the author has done in the mentor texts and how we can use these examples for ideas on how to start our stories. The students will have the rest of this lesson and the whole writing block the next time to work on their adding of leads to their stories. At the end of day one and the beginning and end of day two have some students share their leads and identify the type of lead they used. One day one, have all students place a sticky note on the lead they are working on and write the type of lea”: Assessment: On day one students will receive a ✓+ for evidence of a new lead being formed and type being identified and a ✓- if the type is not identified and/or if there is no evidence of new lead. One day two, students will receive a ✓+ if an engaging lead has been formed and type is identified. Students will receive a ✓- if the student does not have an engaging lead and/or does not know type. References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 21 Lesson 9: Crafting Endings (80 min total-two 40 min lessons) (focus lesson) Objectives: Students will write an ending that resolves the tension in the story and that reflects feelings changed and lessons learned through a short reminder of the whole story. Abstract: We will discuss how writers work to not only lure readers into the story, but also work hard to write good endings for their stories. Good endings fit with the ideas we’re writing about, resolve the problems, and stay with the reader. We will re-examine “Learning about Baseball” by Chuck Hatt (see pages 14-17) to notice how the writer ends the story. We will then take what we have learned and use it to write an ending for our stories. We will write an ending for my story first as a whole class, then they will work on endings for their stories. The students will have the rest of this lesson and the whole writing block the next time to work on their endings to their stories. At the end of day one and the beginning and end of day two have some students share their story endings.
Nowaczyk 12 Assessment: Students will receive a ✓+ if they have used the criteria and a ✓- if they have not for each of the following: Solves problems/summarizes learned idea; is memorable; goes with the story References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 24 Lesson 10: Editing (160 min total-four 40 min lessons) Objectives: Students will edit using an editing checklist, re-reading the writing draft several times, each time looking for just one of the items on the list and then write a final draft. Abstract: The students will review how to use checklists when editing their stories. Explain that when using a checklist, it is important to reread your draft looking for each separate item on our checklist. As a class, we will use a checklist to edit my personal narrative or a sample personal narrative. The students will be given a copy of the checklist (see page 24) and edit their personal narratives. Then students will write their final drafts Assessment: Students will receive a ✓+ if they have accurately completed their checklist to match their story and students will receive a ✓- if they have not completed the checklist and/or the checklist does not match their story on two or more areas. References: Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 28 p. 68 Closing Lesson: Lesson 11: Publishing Party (80 min total-two 40 min lessons) Objectives: Students will celebrate efforts and successes of the writing unit Abstract: Students will get to celebrate their efforts and successes of the writing unit in a two day celebration. On day one, the students will meet in small groups of 4 and read their final drafts to each other. After each student reads his/her final draft, the other students will each get a turn to write something they liked about their peers writing. The group will then pick one story from their group that will be read to the whole class on day two. On day two, one story from each group will be shared with the whole class and students will be allowed to say what they liked about their peers writing. Assessment: Students will receive ✓+ if they willing read their story with a good attitude. Students will receive a ✓- if they do no have a good attitude about reading his/her story. References: Dee Dee Combi
Template recreated based on Understanding by Design (p. 328), by J. McTighe and G. Wiggins, 2005, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. All content in template is taken directly from Investigating “The First Thanksgiving”: An Educator’s Guide to the 1621 Harvest Celebration. Plimoth Plantation Educational Materials
November 12-December 21
Lesson 1 12 Generating Ideas through turning points in our lives 40 min Lesson 4.1 19
Lesson 2 13 Brainstorming Details 40 min (focus lesson) Lesson 4.2 (cont.) Drafting Your Story 40 min Lesson 6.1 “Show, not tell” 40 min (focus lesson) 27 20
Lesson 3 14 Using Timelines to Plan and Develop Stories 40 min 21 21
Drafting Your Story 40 min Lesson 5 Creating a Catchy Title 40 min 26
Lesson 6.2 “Show, not tell” (cont.) 40 min
Lesson 7 Elaborating on Key Sentences 40 min
Lesson 9.1 Crafting Endings 40 min (focus lesson) Lesson 10.3 Editing 40 min
Writing final drafts
3 Lesson 8.1 Crafting Leads 40 min
10 Lesson 9.2 Crafting Endings (cont.) 40 min 17 Lesson 10.4 Editing 40 min
Writing final drafts
4 Lesson 8.2 Crafting Leads (cont.) 40 min
11 Lesson 10.1 Editing 40 min
Lesson 10.2 Editing (cont.) 40 min
Lesson 11.1 Publishing Party 40 min
Share in small groups
Lesson 11.2 (cont.)
Publishing Party 40 min
Whole class Publishing Party
Learning About Baseball Chuck Hatt Baseball can be fun, but it can also be dangerous. I was in fourth grade the day that I found this out. We were coming out to the playground for lunch hour recess. Everyone had their baseball gloves and bats, and some of us were swinging bats and throwing balls. The April sun had been drying up the muddy spots on our field, and the new grass was green. “You guys get Ricky Davis and the Mohl twins, and I get Hatt and Larry Smith,” said my friend Tony Haas. “Chuck, you play catcher and start warming up.” “Great!” I thought, “I’m on Tony’s team. We’ll kick their butts!” I knelt down behind Chris Percilious while he stood at the plate practicing his swing. Suddenly a wild throw from the outfield came zooming in to the plate. The ball was a little high, and I stood up and reached forward to get it. At the same time, Chris brought his bat around with all of his might and tried to clobber it. His bat smashed into my forehead instead. The next thing I remember is waking up on the ground. I pulled myself up out of the dirt, trying to figure out what had just happened. There was something that seemed to be sticking out of my head, something I could see on my right side. Oh my gosh, I realized, that’s not something sticking out of my head, it is my head! A goose egg was already growing large enough so that it was blocking my vision, and my glasses lay shattered on the ground. “Chuck, are you all right?” my friends chorused. Then they saw the purple lump on top of my face and they all got kind of pale and quiet. “We have to get you into the office.” We walked in through the glass doors and down the tiled floor. My friends were speaking all at once trying to get Mrs. Aiken, the school secretary’s attention. “Quiet down, you kids. What’s all the excitement about? Oh my goodness,
what happened to Chuck?” “He got hit with a baseball bat, and his glasses are broken. Look at his face!” “You guys go back out on the playground and make sure that Mrs. Elkins knows what happened and that Chuck won’t be coming back to class.” Mrs. Aiken helped me into the nurse’s office and told me to lie down on the cot. “You sit here, Mr. Hatt, while I call your parents.” “My folks are out of town today, and I’m staying with Mrs. Crawford.” My parents were at a convention for my dad’s work, and I was staying with a babysitter who was my mother’s friend. “Is her name on the card?” “No, but I have her number here on a note in my pocket.” I reached for it and suddenly felt very dizzy. At that moment my lunch had decided that it could no longer stay in my stomach, and I threw up all over the shiny office floor. “The basket, throw up in the trash basket,” Mrs. Aiken said, but it was too late. The floor was already covered with a bright red and lumpy liquid. The secretary led me to the cot and had me lie down. As she turned off the light and walked over to her desk, I could hear her calling my babysitter to pick me up and calling the custodian to clean up my mess. The next hour or so was a blur. I woke up in and out of my nap a couple of times, and then I remember getting in and out of the car and sitting in the doctor’s office. Dr. Everheart held up fingers and asked me to follow them as he shined a flashlight into my eyes. He kept asking me what day it was and what year it was and what was the name of my teacher. “Well, he’s obviously had a concussion but his eyes are responding well. I am concerned about the fact that he threw up and that the vomit was red. If he threw up blood, I’m afraid we will have to take him to the hospital.” “What did you have to eat for lunch today?” Mrs. Crawford asked. I thought hard and remembered. “I had a bologna sandwich and a bag of chips,” I said. “Well, there’s nothing red in that,” said Dr. Everheart. “Are you sure that’s all?” I remembered back to breakfast. Eggs and toast with bacon. Nothing red there either. I was getting worried, too.
“What if I am bleeding inside?” I thought. “What if I have to go to the hospital and something is really wrong with me?” I imagined myself lying in a casket, with my eyes closed and organ music playing. People were leaning over me saying things like, “He was usually a good boy most of the time; it’s a shame he had to go so early.” Tony was lamenting, “It’s all my fault. I should have let Hatt play third base. He was actually an excellent fielder.” “Juice!” I said, “Red juice. I had High C cherry juice to drink with my lunch. That’s why my throw-up was red. I’m not bleeding on the inside. I had red juice to drink.” “Why didn’t you tell us that before, son?” said Dr. Everheart. “You could have saved us all a lot of worry.” “You didn’t ask me what I had to drink, you asked me what I had to eat.” Everyone laughed. They were as relieved as I was. Baseball is dangerous. You have to watch out for swinging bats and wild pitches, but today, at least, it wasn’t sending me to the hospital.
* Carrie A Dworkin’s “Using Lucy Calkins to Teacher Personal Narrative Genre Studies, Grades 3-5. p. 39; Ann Arbor District Curriculum
Attributes of Personal Narrative Writing:
• • • • There is an introduction or lead, which describes a problem and “establishes tension” for the reader. The writing tells the story and also tells the author’s feelings about the story. (In other words, “show, don’t just tell about the story.) The story is based on a true event that happened to the writer. The story is told from the reader’s point of view. In other words, the writer is telling what happened to them. The story can be broken into several scenes, usually 3 or 4. There are details about the character and about the setting. There is an ending, which tells how the problem is solved. There is some dialogue (characters talking) and also a description of things the author is thinking (inner dialogue).
• • •
*Ann Arbor District Grade 4 Personal Narrative Curriculum
Personal Narrative Idea List Use this list to brainstorm ideas you might write a personal narrative about. Remember to include ideas in which there was a problem and resolution. Times you learned to do something: Ride a bike, make cookies, blow a bubble … Places you have visited Scary Stories/Times You Got Hurt
Making a New Friend
Starting Over: New School, New Team, New House …
Best Day or Worst Day
All content in template is taken directly from p. 9 of http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/curriculum/Writing_Binder_Grade_4_Section_3.pdf
Brainstorming Details Name: Idea ___ What was the problem?
Who was there?
Where were you?
How was the problem solved?
Blank Timeline Template
✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Less Catchy Titles and Catchy Titles
This… The Time I Threw Up at Cedar Point My Soccer Game The Tornado Or This…? An Upsetting Ride Getting a Kick out of Soccer A Whirlwind of Excitement
Writers Help Readers Paint Pictures in Their Minds They do this by Showing, not Telling. I found a kitten. I picked it up and petted it. It purred. I took it home. I felt really protective of the kitten. “Everything Will Be Okay” James Howe in When I Was Your Age Ways to Show Meaning: • Through the Character’s Actions o I tuck the kitten under my jacket and run out of the woods. • Through the Character’s Dialogue o “Don’t worry,” I tell it, stroking its scabby head until the mewing is replaced by a faint purr. “Everything will be okay.” • Through the Character’s Thoughts o I feel the warmth of the kitten through my shirt and start thinking of names. • Through Comparisons o This time I was alone. Lucky for you I was, I think to the kitten. Otherwise, David or Claude might have decided
you’d be good practice for their slingshots. • Through Descriptive Language o The kitten is a scrawny thing with burrs and bits of wood caught in its hair, where it still has hair, and pus coming out of its eyes and nose. Find a paragraph that you have written in your story that you would like to rewrite. On a new drafting page, rewrite the paragraph and try to show not tell the reader what you want them to know.
*In PowerPoint taken from Ann Arbor District Grade 4 Personal Narratives Curriculum
Action Leads “Nothing beats an amusement park when you’re a kid. So when my family piled into our classic ‘70s maroon station wagon with wood panel siding for a trip to Geauga Lake, I could barely contain my excitement.” (Bad News on a Good Day by Carrie Dworkin)
Dialogue Leads “’OK, OK,’ I said, ‘I will do it.’ I hoped I sounded like I said it confidently, though inside me the butterflies that had been there from earlier now fluttered wildly all over my body.” (The Tree by Julia)
Setting Leads “It was one of those super-duper-cold Saturdays. One of those days that when you breathed out your breath kind of hung frozen in the air like a hunk of smoke and you could walk along and look exactly like a train blowing out big, fat, white puffs of smoke.” (The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis)
Student Checklist for Personal Narrative
I have a catchy title that draws in the reader. ____ YES ____ NO
I have an interesting lead (action, dialogue, or setting) that draws the reader into my story and makes him/her want to keep reading. ____ YES I have used events that are in sequential (timeline) order. ____ YES I have used 3-4 scenes to tell my story. ____ YES ____ NO ____ NO ____ NO
I use interesting words to describe details (“shows, not tells”) about the characters and setting of my story. ____ YES ____ NO
I use dialogue in certain places to have the characters talk to each other. ____ YES ____ NO
I am using inner dialogue (thoughts) in certain places so the reader can “hear” my thinking.
I have an ending that shows the solution to my problem, what I learned from the story I am telling, is memorable for the reader, and matches my story. ____ YES I have used proper capital and punctuation. ____ YES My story is without run-on sentences. ____ YES
*Revised from the Ann Arbor District Grade 4 Personal Narrative Curriculum
Teacher Rubric for Personal Narrative
Lead (organization and idea) 1 There is no discernible lead or the beginning is trite without indicating a problem for the author. The lead is interesting or states a problem but is not connected to the rest of the story. The writer has not attempted to use inner thoughts of the characters or dialogue between characters. 3 There is an attempt at an interesting lead but the problem is not obviously apparent. The piece has a definite beginning but tension is not established. The writer has used external or internal dialogue but the usage seems forced or unnatural. Punctuation is not exact but doesn’t get in the way of understanding the characters thoughts or conversation. The writer has attempted an ending that resolves the tension which was established at the onset of the story but which seems forced and “added on”. The ending does not seem like a natural or realistic conclusion to story events. The author attempts to describe character, setting or feelings but chooses mundane or pedestrian words. The writing has a discernable beginning, middle, and ending but transitions may be awkward and the story may not flow. 5 The writing has an effective lead, which introduces a problem and establishes tension. The problem is established at the very beginning of the story. The writer has used inner or external dialogue in a manner that fits the events of the piece. Quotation marks and capitalization are used in writing dialogue. The writing has an ending which resolves the tension of which was set in the lead. The ending of the story feels like the natural end of the story. The author uses interesting words or phrases to describe, character, setting or feelings. The writing has discernable scenes in the narrative. Events flow in logical order. The reader is unconscious of the organization and involved with the story.
Inner and Outer Dialogue (voice and convention) Satisfying Ending (organization and idea)
The author has not attempted to draw on the events of the story to end the writing. The ending may include trite phrases such as “the end” or “I hope you like my story. The writer does not attempt to describe character, setting, or feelings. The story is a jumble of events that are not clearly organized. There is no discernable beginning, middle, or end.
Details (organization and idea) Organization
Convention Many high frequency words are spelled incorrectly. Subject and verb tense is not in agreement. Writer does not use possessives appropriately. The writer does not form complete paragraphs or punctuate them appropriately. The writer often does not capitalize proper nouns. The writer uses simple sentence structure repetitively. The writer does not use adjectives. Most high frequency words are spelled correctly. Subject and verb tense is in agreement most of the time. The writer uses possessive appropriately some of the time. The writer forms complete paragraphs and punctuates them appropriately some of the time. The writer often does not capitalize proper nouns. The majority of the writer’s sentences are similar in structure and usually simple verses compound. The writer may overuse adjectives and/or not punctuate correctly. High frequency words are spelled correctly (e.g., roots, inflections, prefixes, suffixes). Subject and verb tense is in agreement. The writer uses possessives appropriately. The writer capitalizes proper nouns.
Sentence Fluency Word Choice/ Convention
The writer uses simple and compound sentences. The writer uses adjectives appropriately and punctuates them correctly.
*Ann Arbor District Grade 4 Personal Narrative Curriculum