We are bound by words. We are connected by sentences. We live on pages. We exist in stories. In my classroom, from Smiles and Frowns to Community Circle to Mindset Mantras to Journey Journals to Sappy Sy Rhymes, we are woven together by the threads of our words, the fabric of our stories. It is how we connect. And then, too, there are those more formal times when we write to discover ourselves and others through the words we find as we search inward to better understand outward.
To that end, we are in the midst of such discovery as we unearth the truths discovered in our own experiences in our narrative essays.
Prompt: In a narrative essay, reveal a truth that you have discovered about the human experience from one of your own life experiences.
To date, the kids have completed a first draft and have gotten feedback on their introductions. From here, we will now work on the organization and development of their essays. For that, there is a copy of the handout that I will give them below. But before we get there, I will share a TedTalk “The Clues to a Great Story” by Andrew Stanton, Toy Story and Wall-E writer. (The Clues to a Great Story) A word of caution, there is a graphic joke in the first minute that I will not share with the kids, but the rest is great. After that, I will then share and read my next draft of my essay, also below.
My goal here is to get the kids to rethink writing a bit. They are so accustomed to the five-paragraph-essay approach that they have a hard time doing differently. They always ask me how long a paragraph has to be. For years they have been taught that it has to be a certain or minimum number of sentences. I get this to a degree. Kids generally do not write enough to achieve a critical mass, so the minimum-requirement approach can be helpful, but it can also be detrimental as kids worry more about quantity than quality, or they believe, rather, that meeting quantity requirements equals quality achievement. So, I strive to get them to think instead about purpose, encouraging them to set out with the idea of achieving a particular purpose with each paragraph, fretting not about length. For the narrative essay, I am asking them to write in three modes: narration, exposition, and reflection. In my essay below, I have color-coded my paragraphs by mode, so the kids can see a model.
For this essay, though there will be a final product, I am mostly concerned about process, and in the end, I will only assess introductions for purpose/focus and the body for organization and development of purpose paragraphs. Later, they will have an opportunity to take it to the final publishing stage if they want, but for now, it is a vehicle for process.
By some luck, I was able to secure the Chromebooks all week, so I have changed our plans a bit, and the essay will be “due” on Monday. I am eager to move on to our next writing opportunity with description, so we are going to. That said, I will be busy conferring with kids all week as we move their writing. As such, it will be an exhausting but fulfilling week. Can’t wait to walk with my kids through their stories, connecting with them, bonding with them. We live in words.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…work on our narrative essays.
…reflect in our Journey Journals.
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme
Happy Monday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.