Intro to Narrative (and some Silent Discourse)

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SWBAT: understand why writers might use the element of narration to convey a message.

Big Idea

Using some silent discourse, students will name when writers use narrative effectively and identify what makes it effective.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

So, I certainly didn't expect my students to be able to answer this Guiding Question...I intentionally wanted them to struggle with it in preparation for the Chalk Talk that takes up the largest portion of the lesson. This student sample shows that this student thinks that an effective personal narrative is simply a story that people can relate to. By the end of the lesson, she will have expanded her thinking to show that an effective personal narrative will have more components than that.

One of the biggest shifts in my teaching so far has been the ability to leave students struggling. It's often so much easier to give students an answer, or to lecture, but by giving kids an open-ended, lingering question, oftentimes they surpass any answer I would have given them anyway. I highly recommend Peter Johnston's Choice Words for advice on how to challenge kids with your words.


30 minutes

In thinking about narratives, I knew that my students would be somewhat familiar with a personal narrative (they write them in elementary school), but my curriculum really asked us to focus in on that idea of narrative (storytelling). My district uses CollegeBoard's SpringBoard text. In the narrative learning focus, it introduces students to the concept of storytelling.

In order to build up Background Knowledge about what makes an effective narrative (and to get all my kids on the same page), I use a Chalk Talk, a strategy that my students love and that I actually had to scale back on last year. Warning: when you use this strategy, make sure that you use it sparingly. If the students don't see much value in it (like it's overused), they can't have valuable discourse.

Here is a video of the Chalk Talk starting out. Here is a video of one later on in the day, with my gifted and talented class.




Here is the finished product. My students love this lesson, and always want to take a picture of their chalk talk.


5 minutes

For this lesson's reflection, I didn't use my usual reflection stems. I wanted to be very intentional about what the lesson was and how they left thinking about it. I had them get out their Writer's notebooks and asked them "What are the most important qualities of an effective narrative?" This was asking them to determine importance within the discourse of the Chalk Talk.

Remember that student who thought that an effective personal narrative was simply a story that people could relate to? Well, here she is with a little more insight in her student reflection