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beginning narratives
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  LESSON 1 Beginning Narratives Let students know that getting started is often the most difficult part of writing. Assure them that today’s lesson will give them skills for beginning any kind of story. We have provided directions for a whole-group lesson. Use the reproducible on page 27 to help with this lesson. STEP 1 Use chart paper, the chalkboard, or an interactive whiteboard to present this prompt to the class. > Think about a time you found something. What was it? Write a story about a time you found something interesting. 󰁮 USE A SOUND OR MOTION WORD   Tell your class that one way to begin an essay is to use a sound or motion word. Write this on the chalkboard:   Click, click! That is the sound I heard as I was walking down the sidewalk in front of my house. Point out the comma between the words, the exclamation mark, and how you started a new sentence with a capital letter and ended it with a period. Model your next sentence by writing: Suddenly I found a penny that I will always cherish. See if students can suggest a sound that one might hear if someone was about to find something. Write one or two of their suggestions on the board or 15 chart paper, then ask them to suggest two follow-up sentences that will tell where the story is about to take place and maybe one hint about the found object. 󰁮 POSE A QUESTION   Tell your class that a second way to begin a story or an essay is to use a question. Write this on a board or chart paper: Have you ever found something really interesting? Point out how you’ve begun the sentence with a capital letter and ended with a question mark. Once again, you need a second sentence, so now write: This is the story about a time I found something that changed my life. Ask the class if anyone else can think of a way to begin this story with a question. Write their suggestions on the board. Then ask them for a second sentence that might indicate where the object was found or something interesting about the found object. 󰁮 USE A QUOTATION   Another way to begin an essay is to use a quotation—words spoken by someone—but not a conversation. (See “Writing dialogue” on page 17.) What you want here is just a couple of words or a short sentence. Choose  one of these examples: “Look at that,”  yelled my brother George. “You won’t believe what I found on the sidewalk.” OR “Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.” That penny on the sidewalk was the start of a crazy day for me. Point out the punctuation you have used in the sentence. 󰁮 START “TALKING”   An easy way to begin a story is to “just start talking.” Write this example: One day I was walking down the sidewalk and found something really interesting. I could hardly believe my eyes! Once again, ask the whole group for an alternative “just start talking” sentence and write it on the board or chart paper. 󰁮 RESTATE THE PROMPT   The fifth way to begin an essay is by doing something that students often do on state writing Help for struggling and inexperienced writers Some students will find learning these five techniques to be just too much for one lesson. Make this easier for your more struggling students by dividing your instruction into five mini-lessons. Once you have introduced one of the ways to begin, have small groups of students come up with their own wording and their own introduction. Help build your students’ confidence by having them read their group ideas out loud. If students are  really   struggling, then don’t present all five ways. Pick out two or three, and make sure they get good at those. They will only get to showcase one way on the actual state assessment.    k 16 assessments, especially if they have trouble getting started on their work. They simply restate the prompt. Begin by rereading the prompt.  (Think about a time you found something. What was it? Write a story about a time you found something interesting.) Then rearrange the words to make an opening sentence. For example: Everyone has found something. I am going to tell about a time I found an interesting object. Once again, ask students how you might begin this essay by using the prompt to help you get started. Write their suggestion on the chalkboard.  STEP 2 Review the five ways to begin an essay. Now have students work in small groups and use the five examples to begin their own narratives about a time they found something (see page 27). Allow about 30 minutes for students to write the five introductions and, if there is time, permit each group to present one or two of its paragraphs to the class. STEP 3 Present the following prompt: > Everyone has gone for some kind of a ride. Think about a time you rode on something or inside of something. Write a story about a time  you went on an exciting ride. Have students reread the prompt and then choose one way to begin a story about that ride. Have each child work independently to create an effective paragraph for this kind of prompt.  A format for teaching You will notice that many of the lessons in this book follow a similar format: Before making any assignment, present a model, engage the class in a whole-group activity, and assist students with a small-group activity. During these steps, students will work out any questions or misunderstandings they may have, and they will strengthen their own knowledge of the task at hand. While this method of teaching cannot, obviously, be followed on every assignment, try to do it in these writing lessons, and as often as possible with other subjects in your classroom. You will soon find that when your students get to the actual independent work, they approach it with confidence and skill. Without these steps, teachers are not teaching at all; they are simply making assignments. 17  STEP 4 Circulate around the room to answer any questions and clarify any misconceptions your students may have. Writing this introduction should take about 5–7 minutes. 󰁮 When everyone is finished, ask for a show of hands: How many began with a sound word? A question? A quotation? How many started talking, or restated the prompt? Assure students that all of these are acceptable ways to begin. 󰁮 If time allows, and you think it would be beneficial, have students read these out loud. Help for struggling and inexperienced writers Save the independent work for another day. Begin with a thorough review of the ways to begin and end, and then ask students to try writing an introduction of their own. If necessary, take a vote on the kind of introduction you will use on this day and have each group member write an introduction using that same technique.    k Writing dialogue Writing conversation is difficult for most elementary school students. They rarely include speech tags, and they have great difficulty with the punctuation. What are you doing? Nothing. Said Bill. Want to go for some lunch? No, I already ate. In this example, we cannot tell how many people are in the conversation and who is saying what. Worst of all, the conversations that students add to their writing are often mindless exchanges that simply fill up the page. They do not usually advance the story line or add information. Some students can use dialogue effectively and naturally, but yourstruggling students will fare better if they write in the third person and avoid conversations.   Name _________________________________ Date ___________ Five Ways to Begin a Narrative Essay Read the prompt. Then read each of the five ways to begin a narrative essay. After each example, write your own introduction for this narrative. Prompt   >  Think about a time you found something. What was it? Write a story about a time you found something interesting. How to Begin 1. Use a sound or motion word. Include up to two more sentences. 2.  Pose a question. Include up to two more sentences. 3.  Use a quotation. Include up to two more sentences. 4.  Start “talking.” 5.  Restate the prompt. Rearrange the words in the prompt to create an opening paragraph. Example Click, click! That is the sound I heard as I was walking down the sidewalk in front of my house. Suddenly I found a penny that I will always cherish. Have you ever found something really interesting? This is the story about a time I found something that changed my life.“Look at that,” yelled my brother George. “You won’t believe what I found on the sidewalk.” OR  “Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” That penny on the sidewalk was the start of a crazy day for me. One day I was walking down the sidewalk and found something really interesting. I could hardly believe my eyes! Everyone has found something. I am going to tell about a time I found an interesting object.   Write Your Own 27
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