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The Value of Purpose. Meaningful Personal Narratives Fran Clemence Lakeview Elementary School July 11, 2011. What is a Personal Narrative?. Discussion about characteristics and qualities of good personal narratives You write! Write a small moment story from a time in your life.

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the value of purpose

The Value of Purpose

Meaningful Personal Narratives

Fran Clemence

Lakeview Elementary School

July 11, 2011

what is a personal narrative
What is a Personal Narrative?
  • Discussion about characteristics and qualities of good personal narratives
  • You write! Write a small moment story from a time in your life.
  • Off you go writers!
  • 3rd grade classroom
  • Students instructed in writing using the writer’s workshop format (specifically Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for Teaching Writing and Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi’s Teaching the Qualities of Writing)
  • Prior instruction in genres of personal narratives, realistic fiction, and essays.
  • Writing in the content areas: Battle Creek Science Journals, some extended response-type writing in Social Studies and Math; and written response to reading in reader’s workshop
  • 20 students in 3rd grade are assessed three times per year based on their writing of a personal narrative
  • September-baseline/determine instructional needs
  • January-improvement/determine instructional needs
  • May-improvement/effectiveness of instructional methods
  • Noticed a dramatic improvement in writing and engagement when studying essay genre and writing essays
  • Purpose driven group of students
context continued
Context continued…
  • Finished essay writing first week of May
  • Concern over whether or not there would be engagement when returning to personal narrative genre for assessment
  • Efficacy of essays- students found writing essays to be purposeful and meaningful-a means to an end
my questions
My Questions…
  • How would creating a sense of purpose for writing a personal narrative affect the quality of the student’s work?
  • How would creating an authentic purpose for writing affect the engagement of students during a writing assessment?
  • Would students find value in writing personal narratives?
  • How can I help create a sense of purpose for the work we do in writing (besides enjoyment!)?
  • How can I get away from the contrived, ill conceived “purposes” for writing?
round one
Round One!

Discuss characteristics of quality personal narratives:

  • Use MEAP rubric:

  • Anchor charts created together during unit of study
  • Checklists as needed
  • Review beginning and middle of the year personal narratives- What do you notice?
round two
Round Two …
  • From given or generated list, identify (by highlighting) qualities/character traits that they think they possess

  • Discuss with a peer by having the peer ask WHY they chose that trait-how can they PROVE it?
  • Choose 3 traits that they feel describes them best
  • Come up with small moment stories that PROVE this quality-make a list/extend the list
  • Choose ONE moment to write about, angling your story to PROVE YOUR THINKING!

“Our students need to see that our purpose for writing is genuine, that we write with readers in mind even if the readers are ourselves.” (Routman, pg. 42, Writing Essentials)

perspectives on writing genres
Perspectives on writing genres…
  • Persuade
  • Inform
  • Entertain
round three
Round Three
  • Flow map or some other form for planning (thumbprint sketch, timeline, etc)
  • In a normal workshop format small group or individual conferences would planning is finished
  • Students draft

Kids need familiarity with form and structure, but they need good ideas and authentic reasons to write first.

-Regie Routman in Writing Essentials

round four
Round Four
  • Generally a peer conference OR teacher conference
  • Review of Writer’s Expectations
  • Revise-see with new eyes
  • Edit
  • Recopy as needed
points to ponder
Points to Ponder…

When we allow our students to make decisions about how they will deliver and present information, we provide them with a sense of ownership, so vitally important to the notion of commitment to the process and product of writing (nonfiction)”…

Nonfiction Mentor Texts by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli

  • Increased engagement during writer’s workshop
  • Connection to other genres of writing: essays (proving their point)
  • Counseling connections: casting their label off
  • Vocabulary discussion: curious and remorseful examples
  • Self esteem booster/affective connection
  • Increased scores: as a class, scores on final personal narratives (as determined by scoring by third grade staff utilizing MEAP rubric); specifically in the areas of content/ideas and style and voice
  • What is on your heart, as a teacher of students (not writing!), in terms of creating a sense of purpose in writing?
  • Is it feasible, with the collaboration of your colleagues AND your students, to create a sense of purpose for most of the writing done within the walls of your classroom? Can it be authentic and not contrived?
  • How can you effectively communicate purpose to your students?

Calkins, Lucy (2007) Units of Study for Teaching Writing Grades 3-5. Firsthand

Dorfman, Lynne and Cappelli, Rose (2009) Nonfiction Mentor Texts. Stenhouse Publishers

Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi, Joann (2004) Teaching the Qualities of Writing. Firsthand

Routman, Regie (2004) Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching. Heinemann