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Writing a Narrative Text: A Constructivist Lesson Plan Johanne Brochu University of British Columbia ETEC 530 Submitted to Dr. Diane Janes April 3, 2011


Writing a Narrative Text: A Constructivist Lesson Plan Online Course Information The FRA4C, grade 12 applied French, is an online course I administer at the Consortium dapprentissage virtuel de langue franaise de lOntario using the Learning Management System (LMS) called Desire to Learn (D2L). Topic: Writing a narrative text Duration: 100 minutes Purpose of the Lesson This lessons principle goal is to prepare students for their next assignment (summative evaluation) from which they will have to write a narrative text of their choice (e.g., life story, travelogue, historical narrative). In order for them to achieve this task, I have incorporated collaborative learning between students because I believe it will be an effective way for them to develop and construct their knowledge while facing multiple perspectives. The constructivism approach emphasizes critical thinking as an important skill students need to develop. Students will understand the concepts by making decisions and adjusting to new knowledge. Moreover, working in groups will help them get the confidence some may need to eventually achieve the final assignment of that unit. Indeed, their participation will be required and grades with specific criteria will be given to each student on the process within the duration of this lesson, therefore making the process more important than the product. Prior to the Following Lesson Between15 and 20 high school students have already learned that a narrative text is a literature genre where the story can be real or fiction. They should know that a narrative text can take different forms (e.g., novel, tale, legend, short story, fable, autobiography, memoirs). They have also watched a movie called Babine, based on a tale written by the young author and story teller Fred Pellerin. This movie will be used as an ice breaker. Presented as an authentic piece of realism, it will be a springboard for discussing authentic situations, generally included in a story. Domain: Writing Learning Objectives To produce a narrative text based on cultural reality and to give an understanding of the appropriate characteristics of this type of text.


To reinvest in writing the construct of knowledge achieved in oral communication, and to emphasize the importance of reading in the matter of technology information and communication. Learning Contents: Text Production Recognize specific characteristics while writing a narrative text such as: Narrative Schema. Narrative point of view (e.g., omniscient, participant). Dialogues for interaction between the characters. Language adaptation according to context and space. Real time and narrative time. Narrative process (e.g., chronological order, flash back). Linguistic process (e.g., sentences variety, lexical choice). Procedures Individual Reflexive Activity (5 minutes) Students have to reflect individually on what they remember from previous lessons: the similarities and differences between different types of narrative text such as a novel, a tale, a legend, and a short story. Group Class Activity (10 minutes) Groups of students need to share ideas about the movie Babine, answer questions and determine the type of story and its specific characteristics. Discuss the principal characteristics of the narrative and determine its type. Give a rating of the narrative and think about what makes it captivating or not. Reflect on the values it evoked and the possible message of the story. In addition, they have to post their answers in the discussion forum in a timely manner under the appropriate theme of this lesson after which they can respond to other posts and share some ideas and/or point of view. WebQuest (shorter term) Activity


In groups of 3 to 4 learners pre-selected by the teacher, they have to reflect on what makes a narrative text particularly captivating to the readers. The following activities should prepare them to achieve this task. A. Individual Research in the Web (20 minutes) Each member of the small group has to research at least one of the specific characteristics that have to be included in a narrative text and find examples to share: Order of presentation of the events. Real time duration of some parts of the narrative text compare to others and narrative time given in it. Indications of time and places. Vocabulary and use of expressions. Descriptive elements according to emotion. In order to help learners achieve the task, the teacher will provide them with specific links about the characteristics of the narrative text. B. Small Group Discussion (10 minutes) Each member of the small group has to report their specific findings to their group and engage in a short discussion with their classmates. C. Group Class Discussion (10 minutes) Subsequently, each member of the small group has to report their findings to the group class using the discussion forum under the theme they are responsible for. In addition, they have to engage in a new discussion with the members of the group class who have researched the same topicthis will have to be done in a certain time frame. At the end, each expert returns to their small group in order to share their experience and report the new characteristics they have learned. Afterwards, learners have to take notes and make sure they understand all components of the characteristics discussed with classmates. Individual Activity (10 minutes) The teacher informs students about other characteristics on the narrative text (see Appendix A).

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT Each individual have to read the text called Les dames des Balanoires from Cline Cyr (see Appendix B) which emphasizes some of the essential elements of a fictional narrative text. The teacher will then provide students with modeling information of the text, discussing its main characteristics (see Appendix C). Indeed, prior to continue the lesson, learners will have to reflect on their understanding of the main characteristics of this type of text. Short Project-Based Learning Activity (30 minutes) In this activity, learners have to develop in small groups (3 to 4 students) a short fictional narrative text of about 800 words by integrating the main characteristics of this type of text. The teacher will form new small groups based on observations about students learning styles to maximize interactions and collaboration within the group. Learners diverse strengths should promote understanding. Learners will have to open a Google document and determine a specific time when they can work together on developing their project (a short fictional narrative text). The teacher will provide students with feedback as needed during the activity. Once the narrative text will be completed, a group member will be in charge of posting it in a specific area of the discussion forum for others to read. Finally, all learners in the group class will be encouraged to comment on the diverse narrative texts produced by their classmates. These comments should point out the positive characteristics and the ones missing in order for learners to adjust their understanding of the narrative text before writing the one they need to for the summative evaluation. Assessment Process Auto Evaluation (5 minutes) Learners are asked to complete an auto evaluation in which they have to evaluate their degree of self efficacy while writing the narrative text in group; and, elaborate an amelioration plan (e.g., areas where accommodation will be necessary). Teacher Process-Based Evaluation The process will be evaluated during the course of the lesson and at the end based on the following criteria: Learners are self-regulated and assume responsibility for their own learning.

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT Learners skills evolved during the learning process along with learning outcomes. Learners multiple perspectives are taken into consideration in addition to knowledge connectivity and construction which include interaction and collaboration with classmates. Personal Reflection The teaching methods used in this lesson, unlike the traditional way of delivering a lesson, emphasize constructivism through specific activities. In order to get the most of the learning process, this lesson includes essential elements of constructivism such as orientation, elicitation, restructuring of ideas, applications of ideas and review. Moreover, I believe the lesson promotes most of the constructivist elements used in CIM, CCM and POE (see Appendix D). For instance, learners have to reflect on previous knowledge and to categorize this information by making decisions (Orientation). This reflection is necessary prior to participating in a group class activity in which they will be discussing the principal narratives characteristics

in a movie based on a tale called Babine. Indeed, such an activity where learners reveal previous knowledge might cause some discomfort since it is facing them with what they know (Elicitation). However, forcing them to question their comprehension will make them aware of the importance of knowledge connectivity. Learners have to use critical thinking skills to debate and, by doing so, they become active learners (think-ON action and think-IN action). This learning environment allows them to shape and influence their knowledge construction based on constructivist keys such as awareness, control, evaluation, planning, monitoring and self-efficacy. Furthermore, the information processing progress with a WebQuest (short term) is set up in such a way so that the learner has to respond to these tasks: (1) researching specific aspects required in a narrative text in order to make the story appealing to the reader, (2) reporting

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT findings by each expert member of the small group, (3) engaging in a conversation with experts within the group and, (4) participating in a discussion with the group class (restructuring of ideas). Using a WebQuest in a group of male learners is definitively an exciting way of promoting exploration and collaboration between them. Likewise, under the constructivist approach, this type of interaction provides opportunities for learners to internalize multiple

perspectives which motivate them in solving problems. Indeed, this WebQuests experience will present learners some challenges that were not visible in the old way of delivering the lesson, primarily because in that type of delivery each individual was basically alone struggling with the course material. This type of task will permit learners to manipulate concepts instead of concentrating only on understanding prior to producing (applications of ideas). Most of the activities in previous lessons focused on the product, not on the process, which differs completely from the design of this new lesson. Afterwards, to reinforce the learning process, learners are provided with opportunities to reflect individually and in group which in my point of view will influence them to integrate more concepts and feel confident to share some more of their new understanding prior to engaging in the short project-based learning activity (review). Furthermore, the social environment promoted in this lesson is evolving social constructivism, influenced by Vygostkys (1978), which encourages cooperative learning and group work. With that respect, online discussion procures unique occasions to interact with classmates as well as with the teacher who maintains the role of a facilitator and supports learners to be independent thinkers. The well-organized activities in this CMC engage and motivate learners to participate and collaborate which is a major difference with the previous lesson where learners did not engage in learning with each other.


At the end, the assessment process focuses clearly on the progression of understanding the concepts instead of the emphasis on the product. The true potential of a learner is assessed as a continuous and interactive process which is celebrating constructivism. In a final effort, learners are asked to produce an auto evaluation which is an essential part of the learning process as importantand perhaps more importantthan receiving feedback from the teacher.

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT Appendix A More characteristics of a narrative text A narrative text includes narratives sequences, descriptive and explicative sequences, sequences that include dialogues according to the point of view of narrator. Different characters are observable. Characters will be timely located (e.g., century, year, season, day, etc.) and space located (planet, continent, country, village, etc.). Between these characters a hero and a heroine will have to solve a problem or conflict, confront a force, etc.

This type of text will basically include a series of actions which explained the use of verb tenses (e.g., present and past tense). Some elements in regards of emotions and values are also observable in that type of text.

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT Appendix B Modelage Observe maintenant le texte ci-dessous qui met en vidence quelques-uns des lments essentiels du rcit. Les dames des balanoires


Bernadette vit seule. Son mari a disparu, il y a trente ans. Ses enfants sont partout, sauf prs delle. Elle habite un quatre pices dans un immeuble anonyme, bti dans un quartier de banlieue, prs dun grand centre commercial. Elle loge au rez-de-chausse, derrire la porte 106. Le vestibule est sombre. droite, deux chambres cte cte, une grande pour elle et une minuscule pour la visite. gauche, une salle de bain, blanche, une cuisine laboratoire, blanche elle aussi, sans fentre. Au fond, un salon avec une porte patio, ct est, qui donne sur une rue sans histoire, o salignent des immeubles semblables les uns aux autres, carrs, sans style, sans me, sans histoire non plus. Cest lt. Le matin, Bernadette reste assise devant la fentre et regarde dehors. Des oiseaux, dont elle ignore le nom, viennent parfois se percher dans le bouleau au milieu du terrain. Une voisine arrose ses fleurs ; une autre promne son chien. Des gens partent travailler. Le facteur livre le courrier. Le concierge tond le gazon. Des autos, des pitons, des cyclistes passent dans la rue. Du quotidien. Juste du quotidien, longueur de matine. Bernadette soupire un peu de voir le temps passer sans rien lui apporter. En dbut daprs-midi, elle va dans la cour arrire prendre place dans les balanoires, occupes par des dames comme elle, ges, seules, qui habitent des petits logis tout blancs, toujours propres et silencieux. Ensemble, lombre, elles bercent tranquillement leur vie qui sachve. Leur vieillissement prend une pause. Les dames des balanoires ont le visage frip, les yeux dlavs, les lvres pinces, les cheveux clairsems et friss. Elles portent des robes dmodes avec des bas de nylon ou des pantalons au pli droit, des chemisiers fleuris, manches longues, boutonns jusquau cou. Elles chaussent des souliers plats, blancs, lacs. Elles ont le corps fragile et le cur lourd. Comme Bernadette, elles ont commenc rtrcir, se tasser sur elles-mmes, se recroqueviller sur leur vie. Elles marchent le dos courb, petits pas, parfois avec un canne, car elles ont maintenant peur de tomber. force de regarder vers le bas, elles ont des vertiges quand elles lvent les yeux au ciel. Elles sabstiennent de compter les nuages. Face contre terre, elles ne rvent plus daller sur la lune. Assises, elles se tiennent les mains jointes, les jambes serres. Elles ont cess de se dployer. Elles craignent la noirceur, les fantmes, les voleurs. la brunante, elles senferment double tour, avalent des pilules pour rduire leur douleur, assommer leurs insomnies. Elles veulent au moins dormir jusqu laube et se rveiller. Surtout se rveiller. Les dames des balanoires parlent de la pluie et du beau temps, de naissances, de mariages, de la famille, des enfants, des petits-enfants, de la visite quelles ont eue ou pas, quelles auront peut-tre ou pas. Elles parlent de la mort aussi. Celle de cette personne dont la



photo a paru dans le journal du matin et qui tait si jeune pour mourir. Elles commentent les effets dvastateurs des guerres, des bombes, des ouragans, des temptes, des tremblements de terre. Heureusement, cest au loin. Cest ltranger. Colles les unes aux autres, elles se sentent labri, protges des malheurs du monde. Dans les balanoires, les dames crient parce quelles sentendent mal. Elles ont des voix chevrotantes et hsitantes. Elles cherchent le bon mot, perdent souvent le fil de la conversation. Si elles se coupent la parole, elles sexcusent en baissant les yeux. L, elles critiquent le gouvernement, revendiquent une meilleure pension, plus dargent, de meilleurs soins, plus dattention, plus de reconnaissance. Elles cherchent des coupables leurs maux de lme et du corps : les mdicaments trop chers, les aliments remplis de produits chimiques, la couche dozone qui se dtriore, la foi qui fout le camp, la violence partout autour. Elles voudraient quon soccupe delles. Puis vient le moment prfr de Bernadette, celui o elles commencent se taquiner dun ton bon enfant, souligner les manies ridicules, les petits tics et travers de lune ou de lautre. Elles rient. Elles racontent des histoires dormir debout, drles, parfois grivoises. Elles se dtendent, spanouissent, souvrent. Elles mettent les mains devant leur bouche, retiennent entre leurs dents uses ce Bonheur phmre qui veut fuir. Elles font tant defforts pour contenir cette joie que leurs paules sautillent, leurs corps frtillent, leurs joues enflent, leurs yeux sallument. Elles gigotent. Le ton monte. Lennui senvole. Elles samusent. Une douce frnsie sempare delles qui se balancent trs vite. tourdies, elles touchent au ciel. Ce fou rire, pus que le soleil, leur donne ce teint carlate. Elles sont belles, les dames des balanoires.
Source : Cline Cyr, Les dames des balanoires , Virages, Sudbury, Les ditions Prise de parole, no 39, printemps 2007.

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT Appendix C Modelage du texte Les dames des balanoires (Cline Cyr) Titre Le titre, sans tre obscur, ne dit pas tout. En fait, il en dit juste assez pour piquer la curiosit : Qui sont ces dames? De quelles balanoires sagit-il? Que font des dames qui, de toute vidence, ne sont plus des enfants sur des balanoires?


Paragraphe 1 Il faut, ds le dbut du rcit de fiction : - mettre en scne son personnage principal; - dcrire laction; - situer le temps de laction; - situer le lieu du rcit. Faon de procder de lauteure dans le premier paragraphe. - Ds la premire phrase, qui ne contient que trois mots Bernadette vit seule on fait la rencontre du personnage principal. On apprend quil sagit dune femme, quelle porte un nom francophone un peu dmod (un indice, peut-tre?) et quelle vit seule. - Dans la deuxime phrase, on apprend quelle est veuve depuis longtemps 30 ans ce qui lui donne un certain ge et explique aussi sa solitude. - Dans la phrase suivante, on mentionne les enfants en insistant sur le fait quils vivent tous loin de leur mre : partout, sauf prs delle . Encore la solitude. - Le reste du paragraphe est un passage descriptif qui fait dcouvrir le cadre de vie de Bernadette. Certains descripteurs immeuble anonyme , le vestibule est sombre , le blanc de la salle de bain et de la cuisine qui confre une certaine froideur, qui manque dclat et de vivacit, une rue sans histoire , immeubles semblables les uns aux autres , des immeubles sans style, sans me et, plus encore, des immeubles sans histoire non plus font ressortir lennui et la platitude de la vie de Bernadette. - Dans lensemble, ce premier paragraphe rpond aux questions Qui?, O? et Quoi? Paragraphe 2 Paragraphe rpond la question Quand? Cest lt. Routine matinale quotidienne de Bernadette est vidente, celle de sasseoir devant la fentre vraisemblablement celle du salon et de regarder dehors. Elle semble spectatrice de la vie. Manque de descripteurs, de qualifants est observable. Cela a pour effet de faire ressentir aux lecteurs et aux lectrices lennui de Bernadette, la platitude de sa vie. Seule Bernadette porte un nom. Ni les oiseaux, ni la voisine, ni les fleurs, ni le chien, ni les passants, ni mme la rue ne portent de nom. Cela ajoute lanonymat du cadre de vie. Effet cr par la rptition suivante : Du quotidien. Juste du quotidien, longueur de matine. Lauteure parvient ainsi traduire la lourdeur et lennui de la vie trop prvisible de Bernadette. Certaines motions attribues Bernadette ressortent dans la dernire phrase de ce deuxime paragraphe, le regard quelle pose sur sa propre vie.



Paragraphe 3 Changement de temps est observable : En dbut daprs-midi, et de lieu elle va dans la cour arrire prendre place dans les balanoires . Entre en scne de nouveaux personnages : des dames, comme elle, ges, seules . Lien entre le titre, la mention des balanoires ainsi que celle des vieilles dames. La blancheur, la propret et le silence des logis pourraient tre dsirables pour certains mais, dans le cas de ces vieilles dames, ils ne le sont pas. Elles souhaiteraient plus de couleur, plus de mouvement et plus de bruit le chahut de leurs petits-enfants ou le bruit de conversations, par exemple dans leurs vies monotones. Figure de style de lauteure qui brosse un tableau de ce qui se passe laprs-midi et de ce quest la vie des vieilles dames seules : elles bercent tranquillement leur vie qui sachve . Importance de ladverbe Ensemble qui fait sortir chacune des vieilles dames de sa solitude. Effet cr par la dernire phrase : Leur vieillissement prend une pause. Le temps est suspendu, se fige. Paragraphe 4 Ce passage descriptif dpeint les vielles dames. On y dcouvre : - Leur aspect physique : visage fan; coiffures semblables; tenue vestimentaire empreinte de modestie et privilgiant le confort; leur dmarche moins assure; leur position assise quon peut supposer un reste dducation chez les religieuses. Tous ces lments ajoutent la vraisemblance du rcit. - Leurs motions : la lourdeur de leur cur, le repliement sur leur vie, le regard vers le bas plutt que vers le haut, labsence de rves, le manque dmerveillement devant la nature, le renfermement sur elles-mmes. - Leurs peurs : faire une chute, la noirceur, les fantmes, les voleurs . - Leurs nuits : longues (elles se couchent la brunante) et hantes par la douleur et linsomnie. - Et leurs buts : dormir jusqu laube et se rveiller . Malgr tout, elles veulent voir un autre jour, rester en vie. Bel effet de contraste cr par lauteure lorsquelle crit : Elles ont le corps fragile et le cur lourd. Voil un autre exemple deffet de style qui ajoute au rcit. Lauteure aurait pu se contenter de dcrire Bernadette de cette faon, mais en dpeignant plusieurs vieilles dames la fois elle souligne la situation semblable dun grand nombre de dames ges. Paragraphe 5 Ce paragraphe apporte peu daction. En effet, les vieilles dames se mettent parler. Sujets de conversation des vieilles dames : le temps quil fait, les clbrations de la vie, la famille, la visite, la mort, les dangers qui menacent le monde. Encore une fois, tout cela est vraisemblable. Progression de la solitude, la solitude partage, la solidarit ( colles les unes aux autres ) et au sentiment de scurit qui en dcoule. Il y a elles et il y a le monde . Paragraphe 6



Action sintensifie encore. On est pass du silence, la parole, et maintenant au cri. Description intressante des changes entre les vieilles dames jusqu linstallation du silence. Passage aux revendications, comme si les vieilles dames se rappelaient quelles sont quelquun , quelles ont de la valeur, le droit la dignit. Sujets de conversation : la politique, la vie matrielle, les soins de sant, lenvironnement, la foi, la violence. Noter leffet de vraisemblance. Par une phrase toute simple, on peut exprimer la dtresse de Bernadette et de ses semblables : Elles voudraient quon soccupe delles . Paragraphe 7 Action culmine : les vieilles dames se taquinent, rient, se racontent des sornettes, rient davantage, gigotent, haussent le ton, samusent, deviennent frntiques, se balancent trs vite, pour enfin clater dun fou rire. Transformation physique des vieilles dames. Elles, qui taient dabord silencieuses et ranges, se dtendent, spanouissent, souvrent. Effet saisissant de limage cre par cette phrase : Elles mettent les mains devant leur bouche, retiennent entre leurs dents uses ce bonheur phmre qui veut fuir. Comme les vieilles dames aimeraient retenir ces moments de bonheur! Effet cr par la gradation suivante : Le ton monte. Lennui senvole. Elles samusent. Contraste entre lennui du dbut et lennui maintenant envol. Autre contraste : les vieilles dames qui ne regardaient que vers le bas, qui avaient des vertiges en regardant au ciel, touchent maintenant au ciel. Un peu de couleur est entr dans la vie des vieilles dames, car leur fou rire leur donne un teint carlate . Les derniers mots du rcit sont, en fait, les mmes que ceux du titre. Effet densemble Simplicit de ce rcit de fiction. Simplicit qui est prsente dans le vocabulaire, dans le style, dans la construction de lintrigue et dans llaboration des personnages. Plusieurs lments contribuent la vraisemblance du rcit. Bien que ce rcit de fiction ne compte que sept paragraphes, il est complet en soi. Lemploi des marqueurs de relation pour construire le rcit et en assurer la progression. Thme de lunit : remettre le monde en question (p. ex., le sort des personnes ges, la solitude).

WRITING A NARRATIVE TEXT Appendix D Set Criteria Rubric on Constructivist Elements in a Lesson Plan


E = Excellent G = Good S = Satisfactory N = Need improvement

E 1. Learners
think and act like experts: classify, analyse and create (CIM); can solve new problems posed by teachers and/or classmates, and, so, have to explore new ideas or modify existing ones (CIM); create scaffold knowledge into a new reality by making links which is process of enculturation (CIM); refine concepts to reutilize them in individual project (CIM); are encouraged to work collaboratively with peers using new technology (CIM); interact with each other in small groups and in group class to reveal previous knowledge (CIM); consolidate their knowledge through collaboration by exemplifying the multiple perspectives and the reality (CIM); are encouraged to ask questions or give directives to other classmates or teacher (CIM); reflect on their learning process (auto regulation) as well as on their classmates learning process (CIM); realize some dissatisfaction with existing conceptions (CCM); are faced with new intelligible conceptions which initially appeared to be plausible (CCM); encounter new knowledge through research and discussion which results in assimilation (CCM); have opportunities to replace or reorganize their central concepts which means using accommodation (CCM); make observation based on previous knowledge (POE); and, recognize and reconcile conflicts between what is known and what is not known (POE).

2. Teacher
amplifies cognitive apprenticeship by supporting students to perform beyond their capacities (CIM); maintains the role of a facilitator (CIM):

helps facilitate fruitful accommodation (CCM); and,

promotes a model of instruction which includes observation and explanation (POE) (prediction is not included in this lesson).

3. Learners and Teacher

work together in a rich and real context (CIM); and, both have to evaluate the learning process (process inquiry) (CIM).

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