February 9th, Narrative Fiction

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I’m excited to talk to you today about our class on February 9th, which was about my favorite part of teaching writing, narrative fiction!


Here’s the Low Down:

We prepared for today’s class by reading Smagorinsky Chapter 3: Teaching Fictional Narratives, starring a lesson plan by Ms. Alva.

We were broken down into groups of four, and in these groups we discussed what occurred at each stage of MS. Alva’s lesson plan, we were asked to state what the teacher was doing, what the student was doing, and what the entire goal of that stage was. please see the charts we created below:




As you can see, while there were technically six stages to the lesson plan, 4 out of 6 of the stages were broken down even further into smaller parts/steps. I have attached the images in the order that the actual lesson plan occurred. Each group did a good job of breaking the steps down and explaining what happened during each one while also articulating what the goal of the stage was.

In this lesson plan, MS. Alva prepares her students for the heavy work of writing a narrative fiction by doing MANY things…

  • They read narrative fiction examples from other students
  • They compared them to break down possible processes and similarities
  • They decided what they thought were important elements of a fictional narrative in groups and as individuals by discussing common occurrences/trends
  • They practiced how dialogue was to be used in narrative
  • They listened to suspenseful sounds while looking at a matching image to set the scene and tone for their paper
  • They discussed the impact of verbs on their tone
  • They made drafts
  • They were taught how to give feedback, and then they gave peer feedback
  • They published their work to be seen by a broad audience
  • Finally, they practiced metacognition by analyzing their learning process and how they came to finish their papers


After we broke down MS. Alva’s plan into parts, we rotated tables and started to analyze the stages (the stages another group wrote down) and how they utilized the properties of a Structured Process Approach. We circled the numbers of the identified property next to each stage where we thought a quality of SPA was apparent. Please see the image below if you don’t have your text handy, it will show you what each number on the white boards was referring to. This is from page 21 of the text.



This is important because if we are to utilize structured process approach, then we need to be sure we can identify tasks that coincide with the values of said approach.

We also discussed things we liked about SPA and possible limitations. One limitation we brought up was that with limited degrees of freedom, students may find themselves contained or restricted by your examples, be sure to show them that your way isn’t the only way. We also discussed the value of manipulative materials such as the menus from our earlier lesson plan, MS. Alva’s music and haunting imagery, or even setting up a mock debate. This is a great addition to a lesson plan centered around Structured Process Approach.

Fictional Narrative Resources:

Here is one article I read the other day that I LOVED. This is more for you as writers than for your students, although I think if you think about your phrasing/syntax/voice in this manner then it will also help you as a teacher! I think this article merges our Chapter 3 reading with the “Not every sentence can be great” reading.

Night of the Living Syntax

Check out some of the writing prompts I created for my class last semester of 7th and 8th graders (these were not involved with big papers, only a short 3 page one, but I think after this lesson they could have been!). I will list three of the top chosen prompts, I encourage you to let me know how you would have applied this to SPA or even how you could model this according to the lesson plan we broke down. As a teacher who was thrown into comp without this lovely course, I gave them a lot of creative liberties. I definitely know that in the future i’ll make some changes. I think it will be fun if you talk about this either in class or in the comments and how you would also have added to this prompt or developed upon it. Please feel free to use these prompts in any future teaching if they interest you, just not in your assignments where you may be asked to come up with your own original work (as I worked hard on them!)

  • You were playing a video game when all of a sudden the lights went out. The next thing you know you are in both unfamiliar and familiar territory… You are in the game. This is your life now. What is it like? What game are you in? What will you do?
  • This morning when you woke up you discovered that you now have the ability to morph reality to your will. Anything that you want to be true is. What do you do with this power? Do you use it for good? Do you use it for evil? What is good and evil anyway?
  • You have found a time machine, but it only goes to the past, not your future. You are able to use it just once to go back in time, and then you must stay there for three days at least before it has a charge to take you back. What happens? Consider the social lives of others with your race or gender at this time period and how that would affect your experience.


Looking Ahead!

Furthest away: We had a very important glimpse of what our Midterm was going to consist of, please gloss over the chapters in SMAG about Research, Persuasion, and Personal Narrative. Your lesson plan will have to be centered around SPA and one of these types of writing!

Next furthest away: The twitter reflections are due on Tuesday (one week after the ninth). If you need to remember how to do a screen grab of your tweets, on a mac it is command/shift/4.

For Thursday the 11th: Read Elbow and Straub, then utilize those readings about feedback in order to give the three other members of your group helpful assistance in working on their TIB Essays!

For our next class, we discuss the art of giving feedback! Take it away Winston:




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