Monday, June 29, 2015

Personal Narrative Writing Made Easy
I am a big fan of educator Gretchen Bernabei. I have been fortunate to attend two of her writing workshops for teachers and have walked away with gold nuggets of wisdom each time. She helped me to change the way I was teaching narrative writing for the better.  

Having students write personal narratives always seemed the easiest place to start, right? They'd pick an event or special memory from their life and after all the requisite writing "mini-lessons" on "juicy word choice" and "varied sentence length", and "beginning-middle-end" structure, you would ask them to write that story and give it all they had. Although, most of the first drafts and even the second "revised" drafts lacked something. I found that the students' stories lacked depth or reflection about why this memory was worth recognizing or writing about. 

Gretchen Bernabei offers her students a guided structure through questions that they kids answer while writing what she calls a "kernel essay." I like to start with this: 

1. What I used to think....   2. Then this happened.....    3. So now I think.....



Here is an example of one of my student's kernel essay ( I retyped her words on this image). 

Here is another student's final draft of his narrative following this kernel essay structure: 
Check out Gretchen's book ( I LOVE this book for teaching writing!) 

The Story of My Thinking: Expository Writing Activities for 13 Teaching Situations [Book]