Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Personal Narratives in Second Grade

Teaching is something that I didn't initially intend to post about on my blog. When I started to develop the lesson that I'm sharing today, I thought it might be a fun one to share. But when I got to teach the lesson and see how effective it was, I knew I had to share it! This lesson was developed with inspiration from Pinterest as well as guidance from my cooperating teacher! We used several ideas from True Life I'm a Teacher while developing this lesson.

The second grade classroom that I was in were coming to the end of a unit that focused on situating themselves in place and time. Throughout the unit, they discussed time zones, they made personal timelines, they read books about people who live in different parts of the world and people who lived at different times throughout history, they explored vocabulary to help them express where they are in place and time and more! To close the unit, the students had to write a personal narrative to add to their portfolios and I got to teach the lesson to introduce Personal Narratives! Here is how I did it...

First, I wrote this out on a flip chart at the front of the classroom. I did this before the kids got to school - most times, I think it's effective to make the flip chart with the students present, but in this case, I did it before.

I asked the class to join me at the front of the room - this is where 'circle time' happens. At the front of the room, there's a carpet, some cushions, the SMARTboard and the flip chart. Once everyone was settled, I introduced Personal Narratives as a way of telling a true story about something that happened to the author. When someone is writing a Personal Narrative they pick a small moment and write in detail about it. We then compared small moments to a watermelon seed - just a little part of the watermelon. I also gave other examples - they would write about meeting Mickey Mouse instead of their entire vacation to Disney World or they would write about one day in second grade instead of their entire year as a second grader.

Then, we read a mentor text. Before reading the story, I suggest asking the students to try figuring out what small moment the author chose to tell their story about. I recommend using one of the following books as a mentor text:

Fireflies by Julie Brinkloe
Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Shortcut by Donald Crews

We read several of these books throughout the time that students were working on their personal narratives. While reading the first text, I asked to students to be on the look out for the small moment in the story. In the following days, when I read other mentor texts (but students had already chosen their small moments) so, I asked students to be on the lookout for descriptive language being used or details the author chose to include to bring their small moment to life.

Once we read the first mentor text (we read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day first) we had a quick discussion about what the small moment was in the text. Then, I asked each student to turn to their elbow buddies (the person next to them) and discuss a small moment they could write about. I gave them about 5 minutes to talk to their partners about small moment.

While they were talking, I was walking around to hear some of the small moments. When they were done, I handed them each a pink Post-It note to write their small moment on (they went back to their desks to do this). Once they had their small moments written, they came to stick it on the watermelon at the bottom of the flip chart and then sit back down at the front of the room. Some of the small moments chosen were: "When I lost my first tooth," "When I broke my arm," "When I got my dog," "When my little sister/brother was born," "When my family moved," "When I learned to ride a bike"...
Then I opened this graphic organizer on the SMARTboard and we filled it out as a class, using our mentor text. I made this graphic organizer - you can can find it HERE. In the center of the mind map, we wrote 'Alexander's Bad Day' then in the circles around the mind map we looked for words, emotions, people, places... shared in the text that brought Alexander's bad day to life. We included things like: He didn't get a dessert in his lunch, he didn't get a window seat in the car & felt carsick, his friends were mean to him, he went to the dentist and had a cavity...

Once we filled out the mind map as a class, each student got their own mind map and went back to their desks to start filling them in. They each wrote the small moment from their post-it in the middle bubble then they started filling in the outer circles. Some students were able to fill in every circle, some could only fill in 3-5 , it depends on the level of the students. Several students needed prompting so I would ask "What kids of sounds did you hear?" "What was the weather like?" "Who was with you?" "How did you feel?" and more depending on their small moment.

When the students were done with their small moment mind maps, I gave them the next graphic organizer, you can find it HERE. This graphic organizer helps them to begin structuring their small moment into a story. Once they were done with the construction, they started working on their good copies.

This is how the entire lesson happened, but please note that I split it up into several parts. So, we did the introduction with the flip chart and read the mentor text on one day. Then the next day, the students worked on their Post-It notes before we filled out the small moment mind map together. Eventually they started to work on their own mind map before moving on to the personal narrative construction graphic organizer. This lesson can easily be adjusted depending on the needs/interests/attention spans of the students!

When the kids finished writing their personal narratives, I brought watermelon in for them. And it was such a fun treat for them to have as a celebration for their wonderful writing!

See you tomorrow!

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