Maybe you are a new teacher, or a seasoned one that is taking on a new role as a writing instructor, or maybe you just want to shake up your writing time this year…keep reading to learn more about what narrative writing is, tips to teach it, and some great resources to make it easier for you!
There are several kinds of writing tasks your students will need to write during their time in your classroom. These will include narrative, opinion, and informational pieces. These kinds of works are required from kindergarten to sixth grade if you follow Common Core Standards.
What is Narrative Writing?
So what exactly is a narrative?
A narrative is a written or spoken account of events. In simpler terms, it is a story.
In my opinion, narrative writing pieces are the easiest for students to write because they all have something they want to share with you. Whether it is about their summer vacation plans, what happened over the weekend, or their experience at the soccer game, students love to share with you. Getting them to write can be the trickier part.
5 Tips to encourage students to write narrative pieces
1. Let them pick the topic.
I know, I know. This goes against your need to control the classroom and what your students are learning but think about it. Aren’t you more willing to complete a task if it is on your terms?
Now, I don’t mean give them total freedom on topics. Obviously, it needs to be school appropriate, and it must lend itself to a narrative piece. I like to give them a theme, and then they can narrow it down from there into something that interests them.
Example: I would give them the theme of writing about their family. Then, they can pick if they write about their favorite family adventure or maybe a time that their family experienced something together that was sad or upsetting.
Or as shown in the pictures below, the prompt can be quite generic/open-ended, such as ‘Write about a special day/happy memory/unexpected event’. This provides a theme and gives a guide for students, but it really allows them to have autonomy and write about something that interests them!
2. Share Examples of Narrative Writing
Having examples to share with your students gives them some expectations you want them to strive towards. Reading narrative writing mentor texts is an excellent idea as a lesson warm-up.
Having an example piece to show students is a great tool, and an even better tool is to write an example narrative piece together. If you have the time, this gives students the best chance at becoming excellent writers. They can see the process you go through and some of the strategies you use when writing.
3. Explain the Rubric beforehand
Give students a walk-through of the rubric and the expectations you have for them. I love to spend some time writing pieces of work that fit each score on the rubric. Draft a story that would receive the lowest score and discuss with your students why it scores low.
Then write a piece that scores the next score, and so on. Finish with a story that would get the highest score and show your students the process to receive that score. You want your students to be successful in the classroom, and showing them examples and the rubric is a good step.
4. Break it Down
Break the writing process down into manageable steps. Hearing the teacher say that you have to write a five-sentence story is really daunting to a kindergartener or that they have to write three paragraphs to older students, etc.
Allow plenty of time in your lesson plans for students to complete the narrative writing in several steps over a few days.
I like these steps: brainstorm, draft, edit, revise, and final copy. Depending on your students and their needs, this may take a week or longer.
5. Personal Versus Fictional Narrative Pieces
There are two kinds of narrative pieces that students can write: personal and fictional.
A fictional narrative is a story that comes from your imagination. Many students will love writing fictional stories because it allows them to let their creativity flow, and they can be silly. Example: The Day the Cow Jumped Over the Rainbow or The Monster That Lives Under My Bed.
Fictional stories are more fun, but some students may have trouble using their own imagination to create a piece that doesn’t mimic a movie, show, or video game they have played or seen.
A personal narrative is a story that has happened in your life. I find that these kinds of pieces are simpler for children to write because they just have to tell you about something that has happened to them. Example: Tell me about your summer vacation, tell me about your weekend, etc.
Personal narratives are a great resource for getting to know your students and learning more about their families, likes and dislikes, and personalities. Some students may be uncomfortable sharing their personal narratives if they have a rocky home life or have suffered a traumatic event. Don’t push them into sharing with the class but be a person they can trust to share with.
Resources to Help Teach Narrative writing
Now that you have some tips to help in your classroom. Check out these narrative writing prompts to make your life easier!
Want to try a free sample first? Grab this freebie for your classroom! It’s a part of my free resource library, so I’m sure you’ll find some other free goodies that you love!
I hope this post was helpful in explaining narratives and that you got a few tips to help make teaching them a little easier! Comment below and tell me what tips you have for teaching about writing narratives.
Have a terrific day,
P.S. If you need some Narrative Writing Prompts for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, or fourth grade, check out my post here!
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