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Here’s a lesson for writing personal narratives and using concept maps


Language Arts  


4, 5, 6, 7, 8  

Title – Getting Personal/Concept Mapping Narratives
By – Marcy Winograd
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 4-8 
Standard: Students will write descriptive personal narratives.

Objective: Students will concept map a scene from their life, then write the scene incorporating sensory details, an element of conflict or tension, dialogue, and private thoughts. Students will proceed through the stages of the writing process, peer revising using questioning strategies.

Materials Needed: overhead transparencies; crayons optional for students

Procedure/Guided Practice:
Read and discuss stories that are examples of personal narratives. Engage students in highlighting or responding to elements of the text that emphasize details in the setting, tension between characters, and private thoughts.

Using the overhead, brainstorm scenes/events from students’ lives. Ideas may include the birth of siblings; graduation ceremonies; first day of school; first day in a new place; a wedding; a divorce; the death of a grandparent; an earthquake; the break-up of a friendship; the beginning of a new friendship; a time the student got into trouble; a time the student won an award or game, etc.

Draw a picture on the overhead of a scene from your own life. Include in your concept map, three-five sensory details about the setting; dialogue bubbles; private thought bubbles; a tunnel to a past memory somehow related to the event or scene; a rope for a tug of war that pits the two sides of the conflict
against each other. Emphasize that all scenes contain an element of tension or doubt, even scenes between friends and lovers. (One often wants to freeze the moment, knowing happiness is fleeting.)

Ask students to draw a similar picture depicting a scene from their own life. Have them label the sensory details; the thought bubble; the tug of war; the dialogue; the tunnel to the past.

Next, model writing a narrative based on your overhead concept map. Think aloud as you write, referring back to the elements in your drawing. You may want to start in the middle of the action, in the middle of the dialogue or private thought.

After you model this, have students write their own narrative based on their drawings.

When are they finished, refer back to your narrative. Ask them to come up with at least three questions for you to explore further when you revise your narrative.
Write down their questions and think aloud about how you might answer those questions in the revision process.

Have students switch papers, read each other’s narrative, and write down five questions to help their peer develop their narratives further.

Students revise their drafts, paying close attention to the questions that were raised, as well as to moments that might be slowed down to heighten the tension.

Independent Practice: Students concept map a scene from a book and write a narrative in the voice of one of the characters.

Assessment/Rubric for Personal Narrative:

4- beginning, middle, end; lots of sensory details; escalating tension; private thoughts; believable dialogue; strong voice

3- beginning, middle, end; some sensory details; some tension; a private thought; dialogue; voice

2- may be missing a beginning, middle or end; may be lacking sensory details, an element of conflict, dialogue and private thoughts

1- lacks any semblance of logical organization; little tension; virtually no dialogue or private thoughts

E-Mail Marcy Winograd !

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