How do You Feel? Brainstorming Emotional Times

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SWBAT brainstorm ideas for personal narratives by listing events or moments that are connected to strong emotions.

Big Idea

Emotions are the center of powerful stories. Students reflect on emotions they have felt during important events in their lives.


10 minutes

This lesson teaches students another way to write about meaningful moments in their lives.

I start this lesson by asking students to come to the carpet for my instruction. I do this with every lesson to create routine and structure and help them quickly get focused on the work they will be expected to do.


I remind them that in this unit, they are working on telling important stories in a meaningful way for a reading audience. That means that the stories can just be any story or moment that has happened to them but has to be meaningful. Today, I am going to teach them another way to brainstorm important moments to write about.


5 minutes

I demonstrate how to do this by writing down an emotion: embarrassment and then modeling how I think about all the times I’ve been embarrassed. I list ideas down on the board. I restate what I did by telling them that I first wrote down an emotion that I thought I would be able to think of stories connected to it. Then I looked up to comb my memory of specific events, then I listed them. After I was done with one emotion, I could choose another. 

On Your Own

15 minutes

For their work on their own, I give them a handout of faces with emotions written under the face. I use this handout to support students in thinking about the different types of emotions people can have beyond "happy, sad, and mad". Also, for students who are learning English, this worksheet is a helpful tool to support topic specific vocabulary learning. Even students who know many different names of emotions might find one or two on the sheet that they didn't already know. I ask them if there are any emotions listed on the page that they were unsure of. I give quick example or synonyms for new vocabulary.

I then ask them to start brainstorming by writing an emotion and listed related event underneath.


5 minutes

Finally, after they have has some independent time to write down their list of moments, I ask for students to share with the class. I do this to encourage students who have difficulty coming up with ideas. I also try to look out for students who don’t often ask to share to support them in building confidence with writing.