Sunday, September 23, 2012

Writing Unit 2 - Personal Narrative

Tomorrow we will launch into our second writing unit. This unit focuses on writing a personal narrative. At the end of five weeks, students will publish a picture book to tell their story. Goals for this unit include choosing a topic, narrowing the topic so it isn't so broad, writing a strong lead and satisfying ending, and adding details to the story to make it interesting.

The first two days of this unit are spent helping kids think of possible ideas for topics to write about. Day one is thinking of important people in your life and experiences you've shared with that person. It's important for kids to realize that they are the main character in this story. This isn't time to write about sister's birthday party or the time Uncle Johnny had car trouble. 

Day 1 - Important People In Your Life
Here's my notebook entries to use for the lesson on important people in my life. At first I made a web of important people in my life and thought of three or four big events that happened with that person. This was quick - maybe 5 minutes or less. That's why I didn't make it fancy. 

After that I decided on one item I wrote on my web to zoom in on and write more about. I decided to write about the day I finally got to bring my baby home from the hospital. I took some time to really think deep and brainstorm as many details as I could remember. I decided to record the details in some sort of graphic organizer, so I sort of borrowed the heart map idea and tweaked it.

Then after brainstorming I decided to write a little entry in my writer's notebook. Here's what I've got so far. Is it ready to draft? Absolutely not! But as I tell the kids, your writer's notebook is like a dressing room in a store - you go in, try things on, see how they work, and then make decisions. You aren't ready to wear things out in public yet. The same goes for your writer's notebook - you open it up, write things, try ideas out, and make decisions. It's not a place for finished items. I'm still "in the dressing room" so to speak on this one.

Day 2 - Important Places In Your Life
Here are my notebook entries to use for that lesson. It is important to do the same things you are asking kids to do - write in your writer's notebook and do what the kids will do. It gives you a lot of insight! Just like day 1, the focus is generating a lot of possible ideas to write about. Give the kids some time to think about important places or the setting for important moments in their lives. I made a graphic organizer in my notebook to help me keep my thoughts straight. Here it is.

After generating possible topics, have the kids choose on to zoom in on. Give them time to brainstorm details and organize their ideas. I decided to write about the time my dog got lost. This happened at my home, so thinking about things that happened at home gave me the spark for that idea. I want to make sure the kids include concrete details in their writing so I tried to remember as many sensory details as I could before I attempted to write the full entry in my notebook.

The top of the paw print is for sensory details. The big part of the print is for a timeline of events.

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