I recently taught a Unit to my Year 3 class that aimed at
developing their narrative writing skills as assessments clearly
showed that my students knew how to write simple narratives but
there was no depth to their ideas and their writing seemed to lack
creativity. I tried to address this in a few ways.
Firstly, I introduced guided writing groups. These small groups
allowed me to provide more explicit teaching and frequent feedback
in guided writing groups that were ability based.
Secondly, through the Unit I focused on explicitly teaching the
features of a setting, characterization and development of an
engaging plot, whilst also exploring relevant vocabulary that
enhances a narrative.
Thirdly, and it sounds like this is already part of your teaching
practice, I used a wide range of teaching strategies to model and
guide the writing lessons, along with many opportunities to support
independent and successful practice of the skills I was teaching
them. The strategies that were helpful in promoting creativity and
increased detail were modeled writing, think aloud writing, guided
writing, independent writing, writing conferences and Co-operative
learning. I'm sure you are already aware of all of these
strategies, however, are there any of these strategies that you
think you might like to investigate further or be more intentional
Fourthly, throughout the year we have taught the students
about 'subway paragraphs'. This encourages the students to include
detail into each of their paragraphs.
Lastly, like Danielle, I also found visual images to be a great
stimulus for creativity. In guided writing groups a visual stimulus
was used to introduce a character or setting. As a class we
brainstormed particular vocabulary (particularly adverbs and
adjectives) and ideas that we could use to improve our writing.
Words and ideas were discussed and explored, helping students who
struggle to come up with ideas, to be inspired and motivated to
write in more creative ways. Similarly, we also looked at examples
in literature (eg Roald Dahl's 'The Trunchball' in the novel
Matilda.) This helped the students to recognise how authors use
these devices to increase the readers engagement.
I was quite pleased with the outcome of implementing this Writing
Unit. The majority of narratives that my students wrote at the end
of this unit were more advanced in terms of vocabulary and included
some of the specific skills they had learnt in the Unit.
I found the guided writing groups so effective that I'm going to
continue them for the rest of the year!
On 10/14/15, Mirna wrote:
> Hi Danielle,
> Thank you very much for that narrative sequence. It sounds like
> such a great way to generate ideas and creativity. I will
> it into practice and let you know how it goes!
> I would like to know how you get your students to use detail in
> narrative writing. I find that my students donít add as much
> as I expect them to, particularly in in the complication. How do
> generally structure the writing component of your narrative
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