Improve narrative writing this Christmas with just eight simple steps. It’s quick. It’s easy. And your kids will love it.
Ms. Sneed Wants to Improve Narrative Writing
Ms. Sneed sighed deeply. Unfortunately, her students’ narrative writing needed some work. In addition, the end of the semester loomed. As usual, she pecked away at her computer, heading to Teachers pay Teachers.
“Hey,” she said suddenly. “What’s this?” She took a look at the preview of a Christmas-themed narrative writing activity. “Just what I was looking for,” she murmured.
Kids Improve Narrative Writing with Centers
The next day, Ms. Sneed addressed her class. “Today we will work on narrative writing.” Everyone groaned. “But the piece is already written for you.” The kids sat up taller and smiled tentatively. Was this a trick?
As their teacher handed out their worksheets, they saw that it was no trick. They each received a paragraph about Alyssa or Alex Elf.
Ms. Sneed had set up centers around the room. “You’ll visit eight stations,” she said. “They’re numbered, but it doesn’t matter which you visit first. Each group will begin at the center I assign. When I blow the whistle, move to the following center.”
Step 1 – Varying Sentence Beginnings
At the first station, kids varied their sentence beginnings. They considered synonyms, shook up word order, and/or added phrases. “Let me read this to you,” one student told Ms. Sneed. “Doesn’t it sound better now that every sentence begins differently?”
“Amazing!” said Ms. Sneed, and she meant it.
Step 2 – Varying Sentence Types
When they got to the second center, kids tried using a question and/or exclamation to vary sentence types. “It’s funny how one little change like this makes it sound so much better,” said a girl with braces on her teeth.
Step 3 – Varying Sentence Lengths
“Long sentences flow. Short sentences punctuate,” one student pondered at the third center. As he read his revised piece aloud, he noticed how a short sentence made the audience stop and listen.
Step 4 – Choosing Words for Effect
As two girls read this card, one said, “Oh my gosh. This is what Ms. Sneed has been lecturing us about all year!” Their teacher, who had overheard the comment, secretly smiled. At least they were listening.
Step 5 – Using Sensory Language
At the fifth station, kids reread their paragraphs. Hmm, the author had only used one sense: sight. They had fun adding textures, scents, tastes – and especially sounds.
Step 6 – Using Active Verbs
“Didn’t we already work on active verbs?” a boy asked Ms. Sneed.
“Yep, here it is again,” she replied. “But this time, you’re using a few new strategies. Why don’t you pick one and try it out?” she asked.
The boy scratched his head and got to work.
Step 7 – Adding Details
At the seventh center, kids elaborated. “Hey,” said one girl, “that’s too much. You have too many adjectives.” Her friend looked sheepish then took out an eraser.
Step 8 – Using Transition Terms
Ms. Sneed stood at the eighth station. “Here’s a way to let your writing flow,” she told the group. “How? Use transition terms. They move the audience through your writing.” She helped a few kids find good linking words for their writing.
Ms. Sneed Learns a Lesson
Later that day, Ms. Sneed munched on some chips in the teachers’ lounge. “You know,” she told her colleague, “I learned something new today.”
“What’s that?” asked Mrs. Walton.
“Well, for one thing, I need to shake up my writing instruction. My lessons always require kids to write a complete piece on their own. Today they edited someone else’s writing in stations. And they learned a lot. Not only that, it was fun.”
Mrs. Walton looked up from her sandwich. “We all get stuck in ruts, don’t we? I need a change too.”
“Look at this,” said Ms. Sneed. She pulled the Christmas writing activity from her bag. “You’ll love it.”
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.