What Happened Next?: A Preassessment for Narrative Writing

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SWBAT use a prompt to write a story in a short amount of time.

Big Idea

Students need practice to write over shorter time frames.

Introduction to Checklist and Rubric

10 minutes

Children love to tell stories. They create the most interesting characters and setting and make dynamic plots with tons of twists and turns. However, sometimes it is hard to follow because it is missing important elements. It can be even harder for them to write a strong story under time constraints. They need a lot of practice.

This lesson is an assessment on how well they can write a story using story elements and time management. 

I introduce this lesson by explaining to them that today they are going to write a story using a prompt as a preassement for the upcoming unit on story writing. I explain that sometimes writes take a long time to go through the writing process and produce a great story and sometimes they do it in a very short time. I tell them that at the end of the year they will be assessed on writing to tell a story and will need to be able to write a good story in a very short time and we will practice it today.

I ask them to get out some lined pieces of paper and write a "proper heading" which is their name, my name, date and the title. These pieces of paper will be where they do all of their writing.

I also pass out a paper with directions and a checklist. I show it under the document camera and go over the directions and any unclear vocabulary. I also ask the class if there are any questions. 

Some of the questions that students ask are:

1. Can I write it from my perspective/character's perspective/narrative's perspective?

2. Does it have to be real? (Of course not; the prompt itself is fictional)

3. Do I have to include the prompt in my story?

4. Do I HAVE to finish?


After they ask questions, I reiterate that they are telling me a story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and that they can reference the checklist I provided to make sure they have everything they need to write a complete story.

Finally, before they begin, I remind them that they only have a limited amount of time today and therefore, we have to make a plan for how we use our time. I ask them what part of the writing process will take the most time. Students answer that drafting and publishing will take the most time. Although, in real life, revising should probably take the most time, in actuality, for 4th graders, the physical act of writing takes the most time. 

I help the students divide the time up into reasonable chunks: 5 minutes for prewriting, 15 min. for drafting, 10 min. each for revising and editing, and 20 min. for publishing.

Independent Time to Write

60 minutes

At the beginning of their independent writing time, I read the prompt out loud, set the timer for 5 minutes, and ask them to beginning prewriting.

Many students discover they more questions. I continue to walk around the room, answering questions, but tell the rest of the class that they can begin.

As each amount of time comes to an end, I remind students that that was just a guide for them to manage their time but if they need more time to work on that part of the process that they should continue to do that. For example, after 15 minutes is up for drafting, sometimes are concerned that they have not finished their draft. I tell them that they can continue to work on their draft but to realize that we have already moved onto the time we've given ourselves to revise and that they will have less time for that.

Once all of the time is up, students collect all parts of the writing process in order and turn it in. 


Share Out About Usage of Time

5 minutes

After everything is turned in, I ask students to reflect on the experience. I ask them how they felt and whether or not they thought they had enough time. I ask about how they can do better next time and what strategies they can use. I also ask them if we need to revise the amount of time each part of the process needs when we have a limited amount of time to write a complete story.

I congratulate them on completing the activity.