Sunday, July 4, 2010

Narrative Story Writing: Developing Character, Setting and Plot

A Book-Mordicai Gerstein
A Book

By: Dawn Wilson

About the Author
Mordicai Gerstein received the 2004 Caldicott Medal for The Man Who Walked Between Towers. He also won the award for best illustrations three times by the New York Times. He lives in Westhampton, Massachusettes where he writes fantasy, biographies, folklore, alphabet books and novels.

We will begin the lesson at the reading center with our large easel set up. Each child will also have their own writing journal in hand with a pencil. I will introduce the author and his accomplishments. We will talk about what we think makes a good author.
I will then write 4 genres on my easel: mystery, science fiction, fairy tale, and historical novel.
We will discuss the elements of each type of genre. I will ask questions similar to: "What do all mysteries have in common? How is fiction and science fiction different? What do fairy tales teach us? What makes a novel historical." We will talk about, and identify read alouds and silent reads that we have shared in our class or that students may have read on their own or in a prior grade where the author used this type of genre.

Next we will read the story, A Book. In this story a young girl tries very hard to see what type of story she would fit into. Her adventure takes her through the 5 genres, and at the end she decides to tell her own story-to be an author.
At this point we will discuss narrative as a genre and how a story becomes a narrative. We will identify how narrative is used in a variety of genres. Then I will explain that they will be writing their own narrative using themselves as the main character in the story.

On my easel I show a copy of a story map I have drawn and we talk about how students can use this map to help them organize their thoughts and decide where their story will take the reader.

We will discuss what makes a story: Exciting? Interesting? Complete? The students will write their responses in their writing journals. At this point students will break up and move to a comfortable place in the room, or to the class library to look at examples of narrative stories to help them better understand story writing.

We will work on this activity during writing workshop for three days. After each student has finished the rough draft, I will divide students into groups where they can share and discuss their narrative stories. I will write a list of questions for the students to think about while listening the stories. For example: After you have listened to a reader, what else would you like to know about the story? The character? Is there something missing? Can you imagine the character in the story? What did the writer do to help you visualize the character. Can the author add more details? Where does the story take you?

After group workshops, the students will revise their stories. Finally, students will meet with me in one-on-one conferences where we can look further at ways students can revise and edit their narrative. Students may then choose to illustrate their narrative by hand or use the class computers to insert pictures.. We will display the finished product in the hallways for the rest of the school to read and enjoy.

Grade 3 Standards (Benchmarks) for Writing

Process: Use graphic organizers to help students clarify information.
Applications: Write narrative accounts that develop character, setting and plot.
Conventions: Use grammatical structures to effectively communicate ideas in writing.

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