This lesson will help students begin to write narratives that are well paced and focused on a manageable topic. In CCSS, narrative writing takes a back seat to informational and argumentative writing, but it still does hold a place in the standards. I like to start with it because most students think it is fun, and they can apply the techniques learned in other forms of writing. Many students don't enjoy writing, so I like to make it fun, especially in the beginning to hook them.
For this lesson:
(Disclaimer: the first clip is of a college pitcher warming up before a game. The second is of a profession pitcher during a game. This drove my students crazy. They kept comparing the circumstances rather than what they noticed. Next time, I would look for a different full speed clip.)
Start out by watching these pitching clips. This one shows pitches thrown at full speed.
Ask students to tell what they saw. Students will likely not give much detail. This can be similar to their writing! They will probably tell you that they saw someone pitching. Ask them to record it, and record it on the board as well.
Now watch this slow motion pitching clip several times. Have students explain what they saw this time and compare it to what they missed when it wasn't slowed down. Again, have students record their thoughts in writing.
Ask: What were you able to see this time that you missed in the first clip?
If students need prompting ask, "What is the point of putting a video clip into slow motion?"
Ask a student to stand up and act out a pitch in slow motion, so you can see every part of it. As a class, write what happened. Focus on getting exactly the right word, so that the reader doesn't miss anything.
Now compare the first sentence you wrote with this. Ask students to tell you the differences. Record these comparisons for them to reference while they write.
I find that my students need a ton of modeling, so I chose to model one more time before having them practice. Call a student up to demonstrate a jumping jack in regular speed. Write on the board: Johnny did a jumping jack.
Now, ask the student to slow it down. Have the students to explain to you what it looks like to see this jumping jack in slow motion. Record their narrative as they speak. Keep this displayed as a model while they work on the next part of the lesson.
It is now practice time! Have the students pick something that happens quickly, and write it in slow motion telling every last detail. Partner writing would work great for this activity, just make sure to define what partner writing should look like. I emphasize both people sharing ideas and taking turns writing.
Some writing ideas include:
Taking a drink of water
Scratching your head
Make sure the students reference the list you made that explains the difference between the 2 pitching clips and really go slow through every detail.
I chose to make this an active part of the lesson encouraging students to act out their event before writing about it. As we all know, sixth graders need to be active and move around. This activity gets those wiggles out while still being purposeful!
As students were writing, I circulated and peeked at their writing. I asked them questions like "What happened before that?" I also re read or reinacted their writing so that they could see if anything was left out.
When they are finished, have volunteers share with the class. As volunteers are reading, ask the rest of the class to try to visualize the activity occurring in slow motion. Emphasize the difference it makes when each aspect of the activity is being explained.
Students may struggle to slow their writing down at first. It is not a natural habit for most sixth graders to write in explicit detail. To combat this, we must practice, practice, practice! I find that having the students visualize what they are trying to say helps too. Our students want to tell us a little about everything instead a lot about one important thing. It is shift in thinking, but with practice and guidance it can be accomplished. I just keep reminding my students to tell me more. Tell me how it looked, sounded, felt, smelled etc. Tell me how you felt. Tell me what you were thinking.