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Personal Narrative 4th grade Writing Unit
Purpose The purpose of this unit is for students to learn the characteristics of an effective personal narrative that is rich with descriptive language and clear sequencing of events. Objectives Students will draft and publish personal narratives on a chosen topic using the writing process. Common Core Standards W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. CCL Learn how to craft memoir by studying mentor texts. Understand a personal narrative as a type of memoir that tells a story from the writer’s life .
Mentor Texts Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park (current read-aloud book. Be sure to point out certain sections that model quality examples of the mini lessons discussed that day.) The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco The Memory Box by Mary Bahr Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe Thundercake by Patricia Polacco My Red Balloon by Eve Bunting The Wall by Eve Bunting Betty Doll by Patricia Polacco Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Topic – “What IS a personal narrative?” o Mini-lesson: Definition of personal narratives Resources o Examples of quality literature that model personal narrative writing
o Textbooks listed above in mentor texts Teacher Actions o Interactive read aloud, My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco. Stop and point out specific features of personal narrative writing. Point out the “hook” in the story and how the author wrote a strong lead to capture the reader’s attention right away. o Place post-it notes over sections of the narrative that stood out, or things the author did especially well to describe her topic. o In groups of 2 have students read through one of the mentor texts. Choose the book for each group and give students 20 minutes to read through and place post-its throughout the book. Student Actions o Students listen to the read aloud and begin thinking about their own personal narratives. o Students read through a mentor text with a partner and explore features of narrative writing. Place post-its over parts of book that stood out to them or things they noticed. Topic – Coming up with a subject for our own personal narratives o Mini-lesson: Where do you look? What would be interesting? How to brainstorm! Resources o Student journals Teacher Actions o Explain to students that we want to come up with an important event or experience in our lives to write about. Explain that it should be something VERY important to them personally that they can draw a lot of details and information about. o Generative Writing activity – introduce to students as a brainstorming activity to get us warmed up for writing. o Write “My Life” on white board. Prompt. Begin sentence with the words, “My life __________________.” (See teacher example). Student Actions o Have students write one sentence that begins with the words, “My life.” Just one sentence though. o Come back and brainstorm possible topics about their own lives, ask for volunteers to share some topics they have come up with. o Allow students to write for 5 minutes about anything they want beginning with the sentence starter, “My life…”
Topic – Outlining and beginning first draft o Mini-lesson – outlining and pre-writing Resources o Graphic organizer for outline Teacher Actions o Complete the graphic organizer as a whole group, thinking aloud the entire time the teacher fills out the organizer. (See attached example with teacher’s subject). o Complete a graphic organizer with the class using the Language Experience Approach to create a student-generated example. Student Actions o Complete graphic organizer o Begin writing a draft using the class created graphic organizer with ideas and outline. Using the Language Experience Approach, begin writing draft as students dictate what the teacher should write. Topic – Continue writing the first draft with a STRONG lead o Mini-lesson: What makes a strong lead? Resources o Teacher written example of a strong lead o Thundercake o Thank You, Mr. Falker Teacher Actions o Explain the many different kinds of leads to students (action leads, description, dialogue, etc). Explain that it could be anything! Anything that hooks the reader and really grabs their attention. o Pull out Patricia Polacco books that we have already read in class, that have strong and impactful leads. Re-read through the beginning (not the entire book) to review a well-written lead in a story. Student Actions o Continue writing first draft, but make sure to include a captivating lead. Topic – Sequencing and transition o Mini-lesson: How to let the reader know the order of events. How to craft your writing so the reader understands what you, the author, are trying to convey. Resources o My Red Balloon by Eve Bunting o Chart paper and class created list of transition words Teacher Actions
o Teacher prepared draft of personal narrative ready to show students. This draft should be written very basically with some grammatical or spelling errors (to model the revision process later!). o The lead should be strong, and this should be revisited and reinforced in student writing. o Interactive Read-Aloud: My Red Balloon by Eve Bunting and stop to point out specific transition words that help the reader understand the sequence of events. o After read aloud, pull out the transition words and make a chart as a whole group. Leave the chart up for the class to use as a resource as they write their own narratives. o Point out transition words on teacher created draft and be sure to add in a few more where it would be helpful for the story (be sure to leave room in your draft for this revision later!) Student Actions o Students participate in creating the transition word chart. o Continue working on drafts, making sure to add in transition words and sequence of events using teacher created model. o Once they are finished with their first draft, students can begin to share with a partner and provide feedback about transition words. Make sure to ask your partner if they understood your sequence of events! (This is optional at this point, but strongly encouraged.) Topic – Editing process! o Mini-lesson: Sentence variety and added description o Using your five senses to add description. What do you hear, taste, see, touch and smell? Resources o Teacher created draft o Chart paper Teacher Actions o Ask students if all their sentences start out the same way. Example: Many sentences starting out with “I” or “We.” If so, model new ways to start these sentences to allow for sentence variety in the narrative. o Edit teacher created rough draft to allow more sentence variety in the narrative. (See attached). o Edit teacher created rough draft to add more description and detail using your five senses. Ask students to close their eyes and visualize what they could hear, taste, see, touch or smell during their event. Student Actions
o Students use editing checklist to edit their narratives and focus on sentence variety. o Continue working on their drafts and begin working on the second draft, which will be the final draft before publishing. Day 7 Topic – Powerful endings! o Mini-lesson: What is the topic of the narrative and what message are you trying to tell your reader? Your ending should tie back to that topic o Concluding words: “I realize that…” “This made me….” “Next time….” Resources o The Junkyard Wars by Patricia Polacco o Teacher created draft Teacher Actions o Pull out The Junkyard Wars (which is a story students have already heard) and read the ending again. Point out what the author does to end the story with impact and what words she uses to transition into the ending. o Edit teacher draft as a whole group to include a powerful ending that ties back to the author’s original message. Student Actions o Work on ending that ties back to original message or topic and is impactful. o Continue editing process and prepare for publishing step. Topic – Editing process and peer reviews o Mini-lesson: Editing for errors and having a fresh pair of eyes look at your work Resources o Teacher created draft o Peer review checklist (see attached) Teacher Actions o Edit teacher draft as a whole group to correct errors, including punctuation, spelling, sentence variety, paragraphs, etc. using the peer review checklist. Student Actions o Edit narratives and share with a partner. Peer review at least one other students work and complete peer review checklist. Students are encouraged to peer review other students’ narratives, but only one is required. Topic – Publish! o Mini-lesson: Create a chart with expectations for publishing o Double space, neatly written, written only on one side (have
students draw an X on the back to avoid student writing double sided) Resources o Teacher created narrative that follows guidelines/expectations. Teacher Actions o Edit teacher draft and begin re-writing to follow publishing guidelines. Continue editing process, fixing punctuation and grammatical errors. Student Actions o Finish working on final draft using teacher created model. o All final drafts due today!
Differentiation Advanced o Encourage students to compare and contrast a topic in their story. For example, compare and contrast their life today and their life last year (or a few years ago). What is different? What is the same? o Allow students to draw pictures to accompany their narratives if finished. Struggling/ELL o Provide sentence starters and sentence frames for students to fill in the rest of the details. o Include transition words in a word bank. o Include a sequencing graphic organizer. (See attached) o Provide more graphic organizers and essay organizers for students that need the additional support. o Allow students to record their personal narratives using audio, then transcribe their words onto paper and scaffold students toward the editing process. Assessment Conferences with individual students throughout unit. Assign students specific days to conference with and encourage students to use their resources if they have questions or concerns on days that they are not conferencing with the teacher. See attached rubric. References: Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2007). Scaffolded writing instruction. New York: Scholastic Inc. Peer Editing Checklist: http://pinterest.com/pin/3588874673635869/
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