Saturday, March 1, 2014

Narrative Writing Unit

We are just wrapping up our Narrative Writing Unit which we have been diligently working on for the past three weeks or so (give or take a million snow days!). Our stories are all centered around the conflict of a character getting "stuck" in a snow globe - appropriate I would say since that is a lot like how we have all been feeling recently :0) I do this particular unit as a "packet" that stays in student's writing folders. 
First, we created our characters and made their descriptions. The character could be made up or taken from a popular book series, movie, video game, actor/actress, TV star, holiday character, historical figure, etc. They then had the choice of either keeping the characters personality the same as the original author intended, or changing it to fit their story.

Next, we focused on our setting description by reading good settings and noticing how the authors SHOWED and did not TELL what the setting was. We noticed that they used lots of descriptive words, similes and metaphors, ACTION, and the five senses to convey a picture in the reader's head. We created our own five senses descriptions of our snow globe settings and then used these to create a setting paragraph to insert into our narratives.
We brainstormed different ways our character got "stuck" in the snow globe - this constitutes our major conflict in our story. The next important part of the story was to outline how the character tries to get out - how that fails, how they try, how that fails ... etc. This will be the biggest part of our story (rising action), most commonly known as the PLOTWe have outlined what will eventually work to get our character out! (climax, falling action, and resolution). We also focused on what our character will learn, since as good author's, we will have a purpose for our story and a message (or theme) for our reader to learn. 
We have identified what I like to call pop corn dialogue (dialogue that pops back and forth between characters that does not share description, action, feelings, or thoughts) and mixed dialogue (dialogue that is a good blend of both talking and description, action, feelings, and thoughts)After analyzing good and bad examples, we practiced writing our own pop corn and mixed to add to our narratives. 
My example is sad, I know, but I had a friend pass away this weekend and the students and I had just had a wonderful discussion about death and how often, writers write about things close to their heart - the result was this in my dialogue ... 

We are working independently on the actual rough draft of our stories as we continue to add the different components of a narrative after each mini lesson. The students keep track of where they are at in the writing process as we move along - as you can see, most of us are working on our rough drafts. And of course, they reread by ear-muffing their stories (whisper read to themselves with their hands over their ears) every day to remind themselves of where they are and what tense they are in. 

Since these are narratives, we knew that our characters needed to learn some sort of lesson, either humorous or serious that our reader could take away (the MESSAGE) see THIS lesson for how we looked at the author's message/theme. We looked at real examples and created three of our own using sentence stem starters. Students could combine, use word for word, or create their own. Once they had tried three, they chose the BEST one (after sharing and discussing with partners) and added this to their rough draft. 
This week, we are working on creating a really powerful HOOK. Check out THIS POST to see all the fun thing we do to practice HOOKING our readers! 
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