For the past three weeks we have been writing narratives in fourth grade. We mastered plans, identified and created different introductions, and worked on writing dazzling conclusions. The students were becoming more and more detailed in their writings and we were thrilled with their progress. Just as importantly, the students were loving writing and sharing their stories.
As teachers, we wanted to keep their love of narrative writing alive while we also prepared for our state testing. A study of released items confirmed what we suspected – students would be asked to write a narrative in response to text they had read. They might be asked to rewrite a story from another character’s point-of-view or finish a half-complete story.
We had already worked on rewriting a narrative from a different point of view. (See an earlier blog “Writing from a different point of view”) It was now time to finish a story, but we needed a text to complete.
The answer came from a comprehension worksheet we found buried in an old stack of papers. The story was about a parrot who finds himself stuck in a tree. It was perfect! We decided to combine both our previous point-of-view writing skills and the new skill of finishing a half-written narrative.
We began with a prompt. Locating the format and topic, students quickly set up their narrative plan. The two opening paragraphs were given to the students. They were able to easily locate the character, setting and problem.
Setting off on their own, students independently created two unsuccessful attempts to solve the problem and the final successful solution to the problem. They were excited to imagine their own solutions and found ways to solve the problem I had never even considered!
Once their plans were finished, my fourth graders eagerly sat down to complete their narratives. Although they had been given the character, setting and problem they felt they owned the story and were eager to complete it.
The completed narratives were all I had hoped they would be. Students practiced reading a prompt, planning a narrative, practicing for standardized testing, and sharpening their writing skills all through the use of one long-forgotten worksheet!