So the reason why I wanted to cover narrative writing on the podcast now is because, well, I’ve noticed that a lot of teachers plan a narrative writing unit toward the beginning of the year – which I actually do as well. In fact, I have a whole narrative unit planned around students’ names that I use right when we go back to school
But what I’ve seen happen is that narrative writing often drops off after that. Meaning, it maybe isn’t touched upon again throughout the rest of the year.
So if you still have some time with your students, I’m going to challenge you to try to add a small narrative writing assignment before the year ends. And I’m not talking some crazy, 4-week narrative writing unit. No. Let’s keep it simple, but also allow our students the opportunity to be creative in their writing one last time 🙂
So if you’re up for the challenge and you’re ready to implement a quick and easy narrative writing unit as the year winds down, let’s talk about the most effective strategy I’ve found for teaching narratives successfully in middle school. And you know what? Even if you don’t decide to use a narrative unit before the end of the year, keep this idea in the back of your mind for when you teach narratives next year!
This effective strategy is incredibly simple, but really helps students set the tone for composing a strong narrative writing piece.
And no, it’s not completing a story arc beforehand.
It’s actually having students write their lead and their ending FIRST. Then, they fill in the rest of their narrative.
This works perfectly especially for personal narratives because students most likely already have the ending in mind, since they’ve experienced it themselves! 🙂
I also like to compare this to how we, as teachers, backwards plan our content as well. We put everything together for a unit or a lesson with the end in mind. And it makes planning and filling everything in SO much easier.
Well this is the same concept in practice, but for our students!
So here’s how it works and how to set it up in your own classroom:
- First, have students analyze the various leads in narratives, such as snapshots, questions, flashbacks, etc.
- Then have them compose three different leads for their narrative, so they can practice with a few of them before ultimately choosing the strongest lead to use for their final draft.
- Then, you’ll have students analyze the different endings for narratives, such as circular, reflection, lesson learned, etc.
- And again, have students write three different endings – even though the main idea of the ending will remain consistent, students can change how they filter it – do they explain a lesson learned? Does it tie back into the lead they composed? Again, they will choose their strongest ending for their final draft.
- By writing their lead and ending first, students will now have a clearer road map of where they need to end up. So now what happens is with the final destination in mind, your students can now focus on only including relevant information throughout their story.
- This makes a HUGE difference in students’ narratives because it helps them avoid the ever present habit of them writing the words, and then, and then, and then. You know what I’m talking about 🙂
Teaching narratives is my second favorite genre of writing to teach, next to literary analysis. If you’re one of the students in our online professional development course, you know my love for literary analysis runs deep 🙂
But I think one of my favorite parts about teaching narratives is that it allows me the opportunity to create engaging and clever narrative writing opportunities for my kids.
Join us for our FREE Online Masterclass, “Three Game-Changing Ideas for How You Teach Narrative Writing.”
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To download this episode, just click here!
Want to listen to even more episodes?
- Episode #1: 3 Simple Ways to Create Student Buy In
- Episode #3: Constructive Criticism: How to Change Your Mindset and Be Open to Feedback
- Episode #6: Keeping Students Engaged through the End of the Year