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Sample Project: How to Write a Narrative

A Scholar Project

Contents
Selecting a Topic Aligning with Common Core State Standards Establishing Learning Objectives Developing an Instructional Plan Prompts Procedure Peer Review Format (Rubric) Post-Revision Survey Mentor Text 1 Mentor Text 2 Mentor Text 3

Sample Project: How to Write a Narrative


Total estimated class time needed: For 1,000-1,500 word stories written and critiqued completely in class, this unit will require 7-8 class periods (depending somewhat on scheduling blocks). Some spacing between the class sessions would be advisable if writing is assigned as homework. For instance, students might spend one class session reading mentor texts and planning their stories or poems, and then complete a handwritten draft during 1-2 nights of homework time.

Online-only activities: Typing drafts (in the Creator workspace) Peer-reviewing texts (the Creator review tool) Post-draft questions and compose revision notes (in the Creator workspace)

In-classroom activities: Teacher introduction to key terms (e.g. character, plot, voice) Planning and drafting (could be done on paper and typed later) Revising (texts in Creator could be printed out and marked up)

Selecting a topic

How to Write a Narrative

For example, tell me a story. All children naturally know how to tell stories some theorists, like Jerome Bruner, even believe that narrative is at the root of all of our thinking. In schools, however, writing in narrative genres tends to drop out of the curriculum after the elementary grades. Writing narrative at the middle school level, however, can help students to learn literary techniques more deeply. While students might learn the definition of a simile while reading a class-assigned novel, narrative writing presents an opportunity for students to create their own similes and to see these figures of speech as integral to the creation of meaning. In addition, narrative writing creates opportunities for students to reflect on their own real or imagined experiences, to explore identity by thinking on their own lives or inventing characters lives, and to write for and get feedback from an audience of their peers.

Aligning with Common Core State Standards Directly addressed: Writing Standard #3 - write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences. Writing Standard #5 - with some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. Indirectly addressed: Reading Standard #2 - determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

Establishing Learning Objectives Students will 1. Begin to develop a writerly view of narrative and poetic genres. That is, students will consider and use story features, figures of speech, and other elements of style as techniques for telegraphing their narrative, idea, or point of view to readers. 2. Read and evaluate each others stories and poems from the position of both writers (deciding whether and how to revise their own pieces) and readers (reviewing others pieces).

How to Write a Narrative

3. Consider creative genres as ways to reflect on their own experiences and share them with others.

Developing an Instructional Plan Prompts: 1. Choose a vivid time from your childhood, one that you remember as important in your life. What happened? Did this event change you in some way? Why is it important? Narrate the events of this time so that your readers will understand why it is memorable to you. You may write the story as a personal narrative or transform it into a fictional narrative. 2. Describe a difficult choice. Why is the choice difficult? What are the possibilities? What are the consequences for choosing one option or another? Your story should include description or action around the situation, how the choice is made, and what happens as a result. You may write the story as a personal narrative or transform it into a fictional narrative. Procedure: 1. Teacher reviews key terms and the purpose for writing narrative. Key terms could include rubric elements (voice, perspective, plot, character), or additional terms from students literature study like genre, simile, metaphor, personification, dialogue, dialect, etc. 2. Teacher leads students in the reading of mentor texts (several mentor texts are included here, but may be changed or extended to include texts that align with previous literature study). Key questions might include: What kinds of (personal and fictional) stories are told here? How do these writers portray themselves and their characters? How do these writers convey a feeling of growth or change? Do these stories feel the same as or different from other stories you have read? Why?

3. Teacher leads students in a brainstorming (pre-writing, writing planning) exercise. This exercise may be very open-ended, as with free-writing, or more structured, but it should include possibilities for stories that are conveyed in poetry and prose. 4. Students write their first draft and type it into the Creator workspace. First drafts might be written directly in Scholar or handwritten in class or for homework and typed in later.

How to Write a Narrative

5. When students have completed their first drafts, they will fill out a post-firstdraft survey (in the survey tool, located in Creators tools toolgroup) that will ask three questions: What, if anything, did you like about this draft of your story / poem? What, if anything, do you not like about this draft of your story or poem? Two of your peers are now going to review your draft. What kinds of feedback would be most helpful to you?

6. In Creator, using the review tool, students will read and review the first drafts of two peers. 7. Either in the review toolgroup review results tool, or with review comments printed out, students will read their first-draft reviews and plan the revisions for their second draft. 8. Students edit their first drafts in the Creator workspace to create a second draft (saving this as a new version). Alternatively, if computer lab access is difficult, second drafts could be handwritten in class or for homework and typed in later. 9. When students have completed their second drafts, they will fill out a postsecond-draft survey that will ask four questions: What, if anything, did you like about this draft of your story / poem? What, if anything, do you not like about this draft of your story or poem? Two of your peers are now going to review your draft. What kinds of feedback would be most helpful to you? What did you change when you revised? Why did you make those changes?

10. In Scholar, students will read and review the second drafts of two peers. 11. Either in Scholar or with review comments printed out, students will read their second-draft reviews and plan the revisions for their final draft. 12. Students write their final draft and type it into the Creator workspace. Final drafts might be written directly into Scholar or handwritten in class or for homework and typed in later. 13. When students have completed their final drafts, they will fill out a post-finaldraft survey (also in the Scholar survey tool) that will ask three questions: What, if anything, do you like about your story / poem? What, if anything, do you not like about your story / poem? What did you change when you revised? Why did you make those changes?

How to Write a Narrative

Peer Review Format (Rubric) Criteria


Perspective: Your story establishes a point of view (for instance, your own personal point of view, or one of your characters points of view) and a clear way of expressing that perspective to readers.

3
This story establishes a point of view and follows that perspective through the story. I know what perspective the author is taking.

2
The story establishes a point of view, but sometimes it changes without a reason. The point of view is mostly clear, but not always.

1
The story tries to establish a point of view, but this perspective often seems vague or changes without reason. I think I understand the point of view, but Im not sure. This story seems to be inspired by another story, but attempts to change it. It has some clichs, but some original ideas too. This story has a plot and a situation, but it is confusing in many ways. I think that I know what is happening, but Im not sure.

0
The story never clarifies its point of view. I dont know what point of view it is supposed to represent.

Originality: Your story should avoid typical or clichd situations and present something new. Alternatively, your story or poem might present a typical situation in a new way.

This story is not clichd, but new and interesting. If it is inspired by something else, it makes me see the other story in a new way.

This story seems to be inspired by another story, but makes clear changes. There are few clichs and lots of original ideas.

This story repeats another story or poem. It is clichd and unoriginal. I feel like I have read it before.

Plot: Your story or poem should lead your readers through an event (or a set of events). Your readers should know what is happening. One way to create plot is to establish a specific setting and situation in the beginning, and then show what happens through the middle and end. Character: Your story or poem should have at least one central character who changes or grows during the story. This character might be you, a narrator (who might be very different from you), or another character who is part

This story is very clear about what is happening, where it is happening, and what the situation is. I felt like it was easy to follow and understand.

This story has a clear plot, setting, or situation, but some parts are unclear or confusing. I occasionally was confused by what Ive read.

This story is very confusing. I dont know what is happening, where it is happening, or what situation the author is trying to describe or narrate.

This story has a central character who grows or changes in a clear way. I knew what the story meant and how the characters were involved.

This story has some clear characters. I knew who was central, and why. The author wanted the main character to grow or change, but I wasnt convinced by it.

This story has some clear characters, but I couldnt tell who was important or how the characters were distinct. It was hard to see growth or change.

This story is very confusing. I couldnt tell who the central character was supposed to be, and I didnt see any growth or change during the story.

How to Write a Narrative

of the action Style and Conventions: Your writing style, figures of speech, dialogue, and other language choices should help readers understand the situation and meaning of your story. For example, you might use mis-spelled words to represent how your characters speak, but you need to make this choice clear for readers. This story uses conventions well. The storys spelling and grammar are clear, and any unconventional choices are made for good reasons and contribute to a readers understanding of the story. This storys conventions and stylistic choices are mostly clear. There are a few mistakes and places that need work so that readers will be able to understand the story. This storys conventions and stylistic choices need some work. There are some grammar and spelling mistakes, or places where the language makes it difficult to understand the story. This story includes many spelling or grammatical mistakes. Unconventional language makes it difficult to understand what is happening in the story.

How to Write a Narrative

Post-revision Survey Open-ended survey questions will be completed after each revision: 1. What, if anything, did you like about this draft of your story / poem? 2. What, if anything, did you not like about this draft of your story / poem? 3. What did you change when you revised? Why did you make those changes? 4. What kinds of feedback were most helpful to you when you were revising? Why? Which kinds of feedback were not helpful? Why not? 5. How can you become a more helpful reviewer?

How to Write a Narrative

Mentor Text 1 The Bike, by Gary Soto My first bike got me nowhere, though the shadow I cast as I pedaled raced along my side. The leaves of bird-filled trees stirred a warm breeze and litter scuttled out of the way. Our orange cats looked on from the fence, their tails up like antennas. I opened my mouth, and wind tickled the back of my throat. When I squinted, I could see past the end of the block. My hair flicked like black fire, and I thought I was pretty cool riding up and down the block, age five, in my brother's hand-me-down shirt. Going up and down the block was one thing, but taking the first curve, out of sight of Mom and the house, was another. I was scared of riding on Sarah Street. Mom said hungry dogs lived on that street, and red anger lived in their eyes. Their throats were hard with extra bones from biting kids on bikes, she said. But I took the corner anyway, I didn't believe Mom. Once she had said that pointing at rainbows caused freckles, and after a rain had moved in and drenched the streets, after the sparrows flitted onto the lawn, a rainbow washed over the junkyard and reached the dark barrels of Coleman pickle. I stood at the window, looking out, amazed and devious, with the devilish horns of my butch haircut standing up. From behind the window, I let my finger slowly uncurl like a bean plant rising from earth. I uncurled it, then curled it back and made a fist. I should remember this day, I told myself. I pedaled my squeaky bike around the curve onto Sarah Street, but returned immediately. I braked and looked back at where I had gone. My face was hot, my hair sweaty, but nothing scary seemed to happen. The street had looked like our street: parked cars, tall trees, a sprinkler hissing on a lawn, and an old woman bending over her garden. I started again, and again I rode the curve, my eyes open as wide as they could go. After a few circle eights I returned to our street. There ain't no dogs, I told myself. I began to think that maybe this was like one of those false rainbow warnings. I turned my bike around and rode a few times in front of our house, just in case Mom was looking for me. I called out, "Hi Mom. I haven't gone anywhere." I saw her face in the window, curlers piled high, and she waved a dish towel at me. I waved back, and when she disappeared, I again tore my bike around the curve onto Sarah Street. I was free. The wind flicked my hair and cooled my ears. I did figure eights, rode up the curbs and onto lawns, bumped into trees, and rode over a garden hose a hundred times because I liked the way the water sprang up from the sprinkler after the pressure of my tires. I stopped when I saw a kid my age come down a porch. His machinery for getting around was a tricycle. Big baby, I thought, and said, "You can run over my leg with your trike if you want." I laid down on the sidewalk, and the kid, with fingers in his mouth, said, "OK."

How to Write a Narrative

He backed up and slowly, like a tank, advanced. I folded my arms behind my head and watched a jay swoop by with what looked like a cracker in its beak, when the tire climbed over my ankle and sparks of pain cut through my skin. I sat up quickly, my eyes flinging tears like a sprinkler. The boy asked, "Did it hurt?" "No," I said, almost crying. The kid could see that it did. He could see my face strain to hold back a sob, two tears dropping like dimes into the dust. He pedaled away on his bucket of bolts and tossed it on his front lawn. He looked back before climbing the stairs and disappeared into the house. I pulled up my pants leg. My ankle was purple, large and hot, and the skin was flaked like wood shavings. I patted spit onto it and laid back down. I cried because no one was around, the tears stirring up a lather on my dirty face. I rose to my feet and walked around, trying to make the ankle feel better. I got on my bicycle and pedaled mostly with the good leg. The few tears still on my eyelashes evaporated as I rode. I realized I would live. I did nothing fancy on the way home, no figure eights, no wiggling of the handlebars, no hands in my pockets, no closed eye moments. Then the sudden bark of a dog scared me, and my pants leg fed into the chain, the bike coming to an immediate stop. I tugged at the cuff, gnashed and oil-black, until rupping sounds made me quit trying. I fell to the ground, bike and all, and let the tears lather my face again. I then dragged the bike home with the pants leg in the chain. There was nothing to do except lie in the dirt because Mom saw me round the corner from Sarah Street. I lay down when she came out with the belt, and I didn't blame the dog or that stupid rainbow.

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Mentor Text 2 Eric, by Shaun Tan (from Tales from Outer Suburbia) Some years ago, we had a foreign exchange student come to live with us. We found it very difficult to pronounce his name correctly, but he didn't mind. He told us just to call him "Eric." We had repainted the spare room, bought new rugs and furniture, and generally made sure everything would be comfortable for him. So I can't say why it was that Eric chose to sleep and study most of the time in our kitchen pantry. "It must be a cultural thing," said Mum. "As long as he is happy." We started storing foods and kitchen things in other cupboards so we wouldn't disturb him. But sometimes I wondered if Eric was happy; he was so polite that I'm not sure he would have told us if something bothered him. A few times I saw him through the pantry door gap, studying with silent intensity, and I imagined what it might be like for him here in our country. Secretly I had been looking forward to having a foreign visitor -- I had so many things to show him. For once I could be a local expert, a fountain of interesting facts and opinions. Fortunately, Eric was very curious and always had plenty of questions. However, they weren't the kind of questions I had been expecting. Most of the time I could only say, "I'm not really sure," or "That's just how it is here." I didn't feel very helpful at all. I had planned for us to go on a number of weekly excursions together, as I was determined to show our visitor the best places in the city and its surrounds. I think Eric enjoyed these trips, but once again, it was hard to really know. Most of the time, Eric seemed more interested in small things he discovered on the ground. I might have found this a little exasperating, but I kept thinking about what Mum had said, about the cultural thing. Then I didn't mind so much. Nevertheless, none of us could help

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but be bewildered by the way Eric left our home: a sudden departure early one morning, with little more than a wave and a polite goodbye. It actually took us awhile to realize he wasn't coming back. There was much speculation over dinner later that evening. Did Eric seem upset? Did he enjoy his stay? Would we ever hear from him again? An uncomfortable feeling hung in the air, like something unfinished, unresolved. It bothered us for hours, until we discovered what was in the pantry. Go and see for yourself: It's still there after all these year, thriving in the darkness. It's the first thing we show any new visitors to our house. "Look what our foreign exchange student left for us," we tell them. "It must be a cultural thing," says Mum.

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Mentor Text 3 Jewmaican, by Melinda Tenenzapf Melinda had the world against her from the very beginning of her life. Her mom committed suicide when she was 4 months old, and it goes without saying that her death was a tragedy for her whole family. But Melinda's story brightened when Beverly entered her life. Beverly was a Jamaican woman who was hired to be Melinda's nanny, but ultimately became her mom, accepting Melinda into her family and her culture. You can say that Beverly contrasted with the rest of Melinda's family, since they were all Jewish, but they all loved and supported Melinda in different ways. This film includes many themes, including ethnicity, tragedy, biased storytellers, and much more. View at : http://listenup.org/screeningroom/index.php?view=9ceca559045e304ba6ef5b72e a4d6af3

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