Friday, October 14, 2016

Session 7 (Personal Narrative)

Rehearsing    Experimenting with Beginnings


Today is the start of the 2nd bend in the unit and your writing work is going to change. 

Writers, today is an exciting day! Today instead of generating new personal narratives, you will need to look over your collection of stories and choose just one.  

Writers often call that a...

Seed Idea

...meaning you will nourish and grow that seed idea into a published piece of writing.  

I'm sure it is daunting to wrap you mind around all you have written and choose just 1.  

This is the time when you have to really pay attention to the little voice as you reread-the one that whispers that there is just something about this storythat this story idea has the potential to become a really important piece of writing.  Remember, that does NOT mean that the personal narrative is already an incredible piece of writing.  It might just be an idea that you think you can develop into a powerful and meaningful story.  

Reread your notebooks and start to notice which stories could be your seed idea.  

Writers, please take  a paper clip and mark your seed idea.

Congratulations, writers, and welcome to your seed idea.

*Most writers don't just pick a story idea and then write the book; they get ready to write by rehearsing.

Partner 1: Tell the story that is your seed idea (DO NOT READ) I want to hear you using the same dramatic storytelling voice you use in the hallway, when something unbelievable has just happened to you and you bump into your best friend and tell them alllll about it.

Partner 2: Lean in and expect to get goose bumps! 

As you tell your stories, you start to figure out what you want to show about your characters and how you want to make your partner react to certain parts of the story......That is exactly why we might story-tell our story before we put it on paper.  

Tell your story about your bike accident.

Today I want to teach you that writers also rehearse for writing by trying  out several different leads.  

Writers, you know how much the first sentences or paragraphs of a story--what writers call the lead--matter.  The 1st bit of text on a page has a BIG job of grabbing the reader's attention, making the reader want to put everything else aside so he can just  read, read, read.  

Authors try out different leads, looking for the one that will set them up to write a great story.  

Look at our mentor author, Jim Howe, and see what he did at the start of 'Everything Will Be Okay' that makes his lead so powerful.  

Remember, whenever a story takes your breath away, that is your cue to pause and study the writer's moves. 

GOAL: to bring all that you can learn from your mentor text into YOUR own personal narrative writing.  

Show 1st page of "Everything Will Be Okay" on doc cam and read as students follow along.

ASK: What is he doing at the start -the lead- of this story that I can try?

The 1st thing I'm noticing is that he is right in the moment of his story, recalling and zooming in on those tiny details that must have actually caught his attention at the time: the missing fur, the leaky eyes, the stick-skinny body.  How must he have really replayed the scene in his mind bit by bit, to remember what he saw and felt at that time, for those details to ring so true?  

I also notice that, in his head, Howe has the narrator talking to the kitten in his mind, telling him how lucky he is and how he feels about the neighborhood kids.  This inner thinking, right at the start of the story, certainly pulls me into his world and makes me curious about him.  It makes me want to keep reading!


I think what is really powerful about his inner thinking at the start of the story is the way it allows him to drop some hints about what his story might really be about. 

When he is talking about how David & Claude can be mean, it seems like he is showing us that this is a lonely time in his life.  Right from the lead that the narrator could really use a little more love in his life-even from a scrawny, sick kitten.   

What I notice is that leads can pull us right into the story by including very precise details from the moment.  It looks like leads can also include the main character thinking in a way that touches on the heart of the story.  

Chart: Techniques for Writing Memorable Leads (pg 65)

Active Engagement:

Look at Howe's lead again as we reread it.  Get ready to to tell your partner one thing you noticed he did that you could try...

A quick share of findings and add observations to chart.  


 Remember, today I wanted to teach you that writers also rehearse for writing by trying out several different leads.  

Writers, when you go off to write today, try a few different leads:
  • dialogue
  • inner thinking
  • smallest details of the moment
  • precise character actions
Example Notebook Page of Leads

Share: Partners read your best lead  in your best storytelling voice.  Listen for how the writer grabs you and makes you want to hear the rest of the story.  

Choose the lead that you think would be best for setting you up to tell your story really, really well.  Does that mean you will need to write a couple more leads, to have more leads to choose from? Maybe you will.  Or maybe you may want to go back and reread 'Everything Will Be Okay' to see what other techniques you might try for starting a story.  

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