3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined
experiences or events using effective technique,
relevant descriptive details, and well-structured
a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing
a context and introducing a narrator and/or
characters; organize an event sequence that
unfolds naturally and logically.
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue,
pacing, and description, to develop
experiences, events, and/or characters.
c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and
clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts
from one time frame or setting to another.
d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant
descriptive details, and sensory language to
convey experiences and events.
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the
narrated experiences or events.
Planning is a learned process in writing workshop. And I think our kids need lots of guided practice in this process before they are ready to take off on their own and fulfill the stands on their own, in a timed, test-taking setting.
Most of my sixth graders struggle with launching their ideas from notebook into longer writing pieces. And yet, many of the ideas in their writing lists and heart maps are things they would like to transform into longer pieces for their writing portfolios. When I first began teaching Writing Workshop, I let my kids choose their own planning tools - our mini lessons covered webbings, and timelines and any b-m-e charts, and then I left it to each student to pick a tool that worked best for them. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it did not - and we usually discovered problems halfway through the drafting process when the student was stuck: where should I go next? what should I include? something is missing, but I don't know what. At this point, there were many writing conferences and I left each feeling that something had gone wrong in the writing process and we should have fixed whatever it was long before the drafting even began.
Obviously, I needed to go back to the planning stages and figure out a better way to plan, to create a framework to guide the writing. Now, every student must create a three-part "plan of action" in their writer's notebook before they can begin drafting on their yellow writing pads:
All this pre-writing work lays the groundwork for a more independent drafting process. We still meet to confer everyday, but both the student and I are so anchored in the "so what?" of their piece due to all that planning work, that the conference is more about improving the writing from a technical and emotional point of view that what it used to be:" I'm stuck, I don't know where to go next!"
Last week, after working on these plans every day, I am happy to say that each of my kids left workshop feeling armed and ready to begin drafting tomorrow, Monday. Hooray!