Friday, September 30, 2016

Session 4 (Personal Narrative)

Writing Workshop Session 4

Share your entry with your partner.

Telling the Story from the Narrator's Point of  View

I want to celebrate what brave writers you are -you have been taking risks each time you put your pencil to the paper.
I think you are starting to realize, as you make decisions about which small moments to choose as topics for your personal narratives, that there is a payoff in those moments of strong emotion and struggle and profound realization.  It's not always easy to revisit those kinds of tense life moments, but you are figuring out that it is worth it. This too makes you brave.

This makes me think it's time to increase the level of that work so that your drafts get better and better.

As writers of true stories, you already know how important it is to write from inside the story moment, telling the story as it unfolds, but today I want to teach you that writers are especially careful about telling the details of the story exactly the way the narrator perceived them at the moment.  

Teaching:  Point of View

What is it?

It is the way the narrator tells the story through his or her eyes and other senses.

Details in the scene need to be the ones that the narrator notices-or they do not belong there.
Two different small moments from 2 different narrators.

Read Story

I was still at the changing table, my sister squirming beneath me, when my dad put the box on the kitchen table and then, peeling off a long strip of tape and pulling back one of the flaps, looked in on a jumble of family photos, with little photo albums scattered throughout.  The photos showed me and my sister when we were little-they were the ones he'd lost.

This is not possible!  

It helps the readers if the narrator tells the story exactly the same way he or she experienced it.  

I was at the changing table, my sister squirming beneath me, when my Dad came into the kitchen and dropped a heavy carton on the kitchen table.  I heard him rustling about, and then I heard him mutter, "Unbelievable, just unbelievable." He looked up from across the room and called, "Remember all those lost photos from our farm? They're all here!"

Do you see the major adjustment the writer made in the second version?

Only the father could reveal the contents of the box!

Active Engagement

Let's practice noticing when a writer slips out of his or her perspective by mistake.

If the writer is consistent in their point of view.
If the writer falls out of their point of view

I made my way slowly toward the front of the line, as one by one, kids in soggy bathing suits sat at the edge of the water slide before disappearing suddenly down the chute.  I was next in line and the thumping in my heart was almost audible.  "I can do this," I thought to myself.  I took one step forward...

Is the writer still in the story or have they fallen out?

Soon I was at the edge of the slide. I leaned forward just enough to peer down below at the small, blue rectangle of a pool dotted with the heads of swimmers below.  I shut my eyes quickly, dizzied from the height.  

In or out of story?

I carefully sat down, feeling the cold rush of water beneath me.  My hands gripped the edges of the slide.  "Ready?" the attendant asked.  "I think so, " I replied, still unsure.

Still in or not?

My cousin waited at the bottom wondering what was taking me so long.



Remember to maintain your narrator point of view as you write today's small moment story.

If you need help getting a topic, I use the ideas from our Strategies for Generating Personal Narrative Topics and our How to Write Powerful Personal Narratives chart.

Writers.....GO WRITE!!!

This is Kei's writing and he noticed some details that just didn't ring true. He was rereading the narrative he wrote about when his dog Jamp swallowed a sewing needle.  He wasn't just reading he was SELF-ASSESSING, asking himself...

Are these all details I really would have noticed right then, in that moment?

Read along with me and see if the details make sense.

Turn and talk, what do you think?
Point out what Kei couldn't of known...Kei tried to remember where he was and where Jamp was and what happened step by step. Then, he wrote that scene again.  Take a look.

Do you see how, this time around, Kei manages to keep his story on track? His details put you right into this world, and they work well because they sound like the true details that he would have noticed in that moment.

Share your writing and talk about where your sensory details ring true and don't ring true.

Editing as you write. This means that even as your draft in your notebook, you are always looking back over your writing and asking, am I using the best spelling, punctuation, grammar to make my writing as readable as possible?

Tonight move forward with your personal narrative or begin a new one, but you will also make time to look over your prior drafts and do some editing.
Here is a check list to help you.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Session 3 (Personal Narrative)

Writing from Moments that Really Matter

Connection: Remember, we learned from Jack about mapping.  
This is really something to help you get started as writers.

The blank page can be intimidating...

Mapping helps!

*Share with a partner your map

*Quick Lists:  First and Last Times Discussion  
Did anyone write about a time they did something for the first or last time?

First and Last times are powerful because they are moments when you realized something important.  *Strategy for your toolkit: You want to remember when you realize things*
Today I want to teach you another strategy that helps people write powerful true stories:  
Jotting down moments that have really mattered.  Although they could be first and last times, what really works is to think about moments when you realized or learned something important about yourself and other people and life.  
Then write the whole story, fast and furious.

Making a Quick List of times you realized something important

Step 1: Think of a time/moment when you felt a strong emotion
Step 2: Write down what you felt 
Step 3: Write down what you learned

Title your Quick List:  Moments I Realized Something
 (Example) The time I was frantic, after destroying the garden, and my dad stayed calm and reassuring. I realized he would always help me, even though I didn't always listen to him.

*Make Quick Lists of First times, Last times, and Times you realized something
*Pick one small moment and start a powerful narrative entry

*Remember - all writers take risks when they write.  Stories that reveal something deeply personal are often the best kind.  All of us in this room will be taking this risk together. 

*Read your Writing like it's GOLD!

HOMEWORK: Finish your entry for the day; think about your style as a writer

(Add to the poster)
Strategies for Generating Personal Narrative Topics
  • Think of a person who matters to you, list Small Moment stories, choose one, and write the whole story
  • Think about a place that matters, use pictures and quick notes to jot about the small moments that occurred there, choose one and write the whole story
  • Think of first times or last times you did something, list Small Moment stories you could tell about each, choose one, and write the whole story.
  • Think of moments that really mattered because you realized or learned something, list those moments, choose one, and write the whole story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Session 2B (Personal Narrative)

More Strategies to "Write up a Storm"


Share last night's writing work with the person next to you

Begin New Anchor Chart

Strategies for Generating Personal Narrative Topics

  • Think of a person who matters to you, list Small Moment stories, choose one, and write the whole story

Today we will be looking, learning from another author - this time, a Newberry Award winning author, Jack Gantos


Today I want to teach you that published writers sometimes think of a place that matters to them and make a quick sketch -- a map, actually -- of that place, jotting all the powerful Small Moment story ideas that come from that place.

Let's study Ganto's map:

I have included a map of my neighborhood from sixth grade, when I lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We had alligators in our canal, so I drew them in. One of them ate my dog, BoBo, the dumbest dog in the world. We had mean dogs in the neighborhood and one bit me and I thought it gave me rabies. I threw up a huge bellyful of spaghetti on the living room wall and we could never remove the stain. I drew it on the map. We lived next to the Pagoda family -- whom my mother labeled the "low supervision family." They were, and I was forbidden to play there. Of course, I was wildly attracted to them and got into lots of trouble -- see that little boy on the map, flying through the air over their yard? That is my brother Pete. I broke his arm at the Pagoda house while playing "Barnum and Bailey Circus Dare." We had an airplane crash in our neighborhood. We had grumpy old people that didn't like children. I built a golf course by burying a coffee can in everyone's yard. We sailed boats in the canal, and lots, lots more. It's all on the map. The final step is to add the major characters: your family, friends, and yourself. 

Even though there are lots of pictures and captions, it is still of one very specific place: the house and yard where he grew up.  Each detail on the map could turn into a whole story capturing the small moment that happened there.

(Add to the poster)

Strategies for Generating Personal Narrative Topics

  • Think of a person who matters to you, list Small Moment stories, choose one, and write the whole story
  • Think about a place that matters, use pictures and quick notes to jot about the small moments that occurred there, choose one and write the whole story

*In your mind: Choose a place where you spend a lot of your time
*Tell your partner where it is and some of the things you'll be sketching

Task: Work on your writing entry for the day

Things to use:  Any of the "Jumping off points for writing" we've learned
1) The mental image of the place you just shared with your partner
2) Draw a map sketching out lots of small moments you have had there
3) The important people list strategy we learned

Share/Wrap Up:
Take risks in your writing! Your homework is to finish the entry you began in class about an important place in your life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Session 2A (Personal Narrative)

With the people around you share your goal you've made.
Are any of your classmate's goals similar or different to yours?

Next I'd like you to share with a different person near you about your annotations from Ai's story.

Review first two points on our poster we created yesterday

Today I want to teach you that sometimes writers use a strategy to generate ideas for POWERFUL personal narratives called a quick list.  

Quick List - is what it sounds like!  You write fast and furious while thinking of as many things as you can related to the list you want to create.  Let's try it!

Write: "Important people in my life" at the top of a new page in your notebooks.
Now, let's make a list of all the people that fit into this category!

Remember Ai's story we annotated?  She wrote about a small moment she had with her friends Emma and India.

Next, pick one person on that list.  Turn the page and write their name at the top.   Above their name, now add "Small moments with..."  Generate a quick list of small moments you've shared with that person.

Today's workshop will be practicing writing an entry using this strategy.

Share/Wrap Up
Now you have a tool in your writing tool box to generate ideas fast!
Your task for homework is to continue this entry tonight focusing on small moments and using exact language to place us right there with you!

Remind yourself of your goals!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Session 1 (Personal Narrative)

Personal Narrative 

Crafting Powerful Life Stories

Lucy Calkins

Writing Workshop Session 1 

(Personal Narrative)

Connection: Think of a past teacher who has tried to teach you about crafting powerful true stories from the small moments of your life.

6th grade expectations of daily writing: I'm going to expect that each of you, as a writer, can fill a page and a half of your notebook every day with a compelling true story.

Today I want to teach you - to remind you really - that as a writer, you can get help not only from each other and from me, but also from texts others have written.  To learn from finished texts, you need to study them, imagining the strategies the writer probably used so you can then try those same strategies on your own writing.

My Wedding Cake 

Have you ever asked the question "Wow! How did somebody make that?!"

We are going to start our year by studying a personal narrative that another 6th grader has made. 
(pass out a copy of Ai's Narrative)

Ai's Narrative:

I shivered a little bit.

"It's pretty cold!" I said as I dipped my toes in the water.  I took a pebble and threw it far into the creek.

"Well, whatever!" I said as I plunged in to the cold water.  It felt amazing!  The cold water covered my eyes like gentle blankets and the water washed over me like a breeze.  Swimming is my favorite!

"Wait up!" yelled Emma as she ran down the hill with her floaty wrapped around her waist.  Her curly brown hair whipped around in the breeze.  I shivered, I was cold already!  A moment after that, India's mom waded in, laughing.

"Ha! It's cold! she said.  Then she stopped.  "Girls, out! Out of the water!" she pushed us back to shore.  I looked back and saw a long, thin water snake, slithering towards us.  I gasped.  I quickly swam underwater in big, wide strokes.

Ask yourself: "What got to me in this piece?" "What part worked for me?"  "How did the author do that?"

*Create Chart: How to Write Powerful Personal Narratives (page 7)

*MARK UP a piece of writing
*Circle things that are "WOW!" and "AWESOME"
*Underline words you don't know/Things that confuse you
*Write your thoughts, feeling, connections, etc.

Rules for Keeping a Writer's Notebook:
1. All pages STAY in the notebook
2. Date EACH entry
3. Leave the back of each entry blank
4. Length - 1.5 pages (or more if you would like)
5. Use Quick Lists
6. One entry can have more than one story idea within it

Share/Wrap up
After looking at another 6th grader's writing today, where do you feel you are as writers right now?  Where would you like to go?

Talk about Writing Goals 
Homework Assignment:  
1. Write two goals for yourselves as writers.  Think about what you already do well, and what you could learn to do even better.
2. Finish Annotating Ai's story if you need and write your 1st entry using both Ai's writing and the two points we added to our chart How to Write a Powerful Narrative

Friday, September 9, 2016

Personal Narrative (Assessment)

Writing Assessment

I'm really eager to understand what you can do as writers of narratives, of stories, so today will you please write the best personal narrative, the best true story, that you can write? Make this be the story of one time in your life.  You might focus on just a scene or two. You will have only 45 minutes to write this true story, so you will need to plan, draft, revise, and edit in one sitting.  Write in a way that allows you to show off all your know about narrative writing.  

In your writing, make sure you:

  • Write a beginning for your story
  • Use transitions words to tell what happened in order
  • Elaborate to help readers picture your story
  • Show what your story is really about
  • Write an ending for your story