Teaching narrative writing is fun, but it can also be challenging. Whether you need to teach college or elementary school students, there are many good options for classes. Start by familiarizing students with the genre, then use the activities in class to help them practice creating their own stories. Once students understand how narrative works, assign them a narrative essay to demonstrate and hone their skills.
Part 1 of 3: Enter the gender
Step 1. Teach them that a story has characters, conflict, and solution
A story is a story or series of events that are told in sequence. It presents one or more characters who are facing a conflict and who must do something to find a solution. A story can be fiction or non-fiction. The following are some other characteristics that a story can include:
- a specific point of view on the events of the story
- vivid details that incorporate all 5 senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste)
- a reflection on the meaning of the experience
Step 2. Assign rehearsal, video and podcast models
Giving students story examples to read, watch, and listen to will help them better understand the genre. Choose narrative models that are age appropriate. Read, watch and listen to the models in class and have the students read a little on their own. Comic strips are also good models of narrative structure.
- Have students read narrative essays, such as "My Indian Education" by Sherman Alexie, "Killing an Elephant" by George Orwell, "Learning to Read" by Malcolm X or "Fish Cheeks "(Fish Cheeks) by Amy Tan.
- Play a movie like Moana or Frozen for students, and then describe the structure of the story together.
- Have students listen to a podcast or radio segment featuring a short story, such as the Modern Love podcast or the NPR series "This I Believe."
If you want to show them a movie, but you don't have much time, put on a short film or comic sketch clip, like something from a channel you like on YouTube. Pick something that grabs the students' attention.
Step 3. Talk about the models in class in order to identify the characteristics of the stories
Students will need guidance as they look at the narrative patterns, so reserve 1-2 classes to discuss these. Ask students questions to help them better understand what makes these models good storytelling examples. The following are some of the questions you can ask students:
- Who are the characters in the story? As they are? How can you know?
- Who is telling the story?
- What about the characters?
- What do they do to solve the problem?
- Where and when does the story take place?
- What is the atmosphere of the story?
Step 4. Map the plot and characters in model essays
Another way to help students understand the progression of a story is to draw a picture on the board. Start with what happens at the beginning and go through the story paragraph by paragraph to make a map. Ask students questions as you go along and encourage them to help you create the map.
- For example, start by analyzing the action and characters in the introduction. How does the author present the story and the characters?
- Then move on to the body paragraphs to identify how the story unfolds. What's going on? Who does it happen to? How do the characters respond?
- Finish the map by analyzing the conclusion of the story. How is the conflict resolved? What effect does this resolution have on the characters in the story?
Part 2 of 3: Using the Activities in Class
Step 1. Ask students to collaborate on a word or sentence to create a story
Telling a story using 1 word or 1 sentence at a time is a fun way to help students understand the basic meaning of the story. Start a story that students can complete by saying 1 word, then go around the room and have each student collaborate on a word. After doing this exercise successfully a couple of times, have each student collaborate with a prayer.
- For example, you can start the story by saying “There was”, to which another student can continue with “once”, another with “once”, and so on.
- You can also give your story more structure by giving students a model. For example, you can ask them to follow a format, such as "The-adjective-noun-adverb-verb-the-adjective-noun". Post the format where everyone can see it as they tell the story.
- To create a sentence-by-sentence story, you can start with "Once upon a time there was a princess named Jezebel." Then the next student may add, "She was engaged to a foreign prince, but did not want to marry," and another may add, "On her wedding day, she fled the country."
Step 2. Have students write a paragraph and let classmates complete it
For a more advanced way to get students to collaborate on the story, have each of them write the first paragraph of a story. Then ask them to pass the paragraph on to the partner on the right so that they can expand on it. After the second student has added a paragraph, they should pass the sheet of paper to the next student and so on until 5 or 6 students have collaborated on a paragraph.
- Give each student 7-10 minutes to write a paragraph.
- Give the stories back to the students who wrote the opening paragraph so they can see how their classmates continued the story.
- Ask students to share how their stories evolved after passing them on to their classmates.
Step 3. Teach students to show rather than tell in their stories
An important goal of narrative writing is to use dialogue and details to show readers what the characters think and feel, rather than simply telling these details. Explain the difference by giving examples of what it is like to show and tell.
- For example, if the author of a story writes something like "Celina was very upset," then he has chosen to tell. However, you can choose to show it by writing something like “Celina slammed the car door and walked home. Before entering, he turned, glared at me and yelled, 'I don't want to see you again!'
- The first example tells readers that Celina is upset, while the second shows them that she is upset through her actions and words.
- A good way to practice this concept is to give students a plot point or ask them to create one. Then have students work on showing the plot point using only dialogue.
Step 4. Ask them questions to help them develop the characters
Write and distribute a list of questions that are designed to help students materialize the details of their characters. This will make it easier for you to show your readers what the person is like instead of telling them. The following are some of the questions you can include in this list:
- What does the character look like? What is the color of your hair, your eyes, or your skin? How tall and heavy is it? How old are you? What kind of rose do you wear? Does it have any other distinguishing features?
- What peculiarities does the person have? Do you have a nervous tic? How is his voice?
- How is your personality? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
- What things do you like or dislike? Do you have hobbies? Do you have a profession?
Step 5. Use an opening phrase of suspense as a stimulus for students to begin writing
Another way to stimulate creativity in students is to ask them to write a story based on the opening phrase you provide. Allow them to choose an opening phrase from a list and then continue with the story as they wish. The following are some examples of opening phrases:
- There was no one in the cafeteria except me, the waitress, the cook, and a lone gunman.
- He was lost in a strange city, without money, without a telephone and without being able to contact anyone.
- The creature disappeared as suddenly and unexpectedly as it arrived.
Step 6. Have the students create an island and write as if they were lost
To get students to practice creating worlds and writing from the first-person perspective, ask them to create an imaginary island. They can draw it and write a description of its characteristics. Then ask them to write 5 journal entries over the course of 5 days imagining that they are lost on the island.
- Invite the students to share what happened on their respective islands at the end of the 5 days.
- Display the drawings and descriptions of the islands on the wall of the room.
Set the goal of do 1 class activity every day. This will ensure that students gain a broad understanding of what the story is and how it works before they write their own stories.
Part 3 of 3: Assign a Narrative Essay
Step 1. Explain the assignment and allow them to ask questions
Start by telling the students what the topic of the essays should be. Explain the main characteristics of the assignment and explain what you expect from them. Provide them with instructions for the essay so they know exactly what you are looking for, and go through these instructions together.
- Tell students if you are going to use a theme or an approach. For example, if you want them to write a story around an experience with reading or writing, you can give them examples, such as the first novel they have read that fascinated them, or a time when they had to totally rewrite a work. for a language class.
- Also, include details in the instructions on the required length of the essay, the special features you expect to see, and any formatting requirements.
Step 2. Ask students to present a prewriting activity
Prewriting is an essential part of the writing process, so encourage students to do it. To make sure they are on track with the essay topics, ask them to provide you with a prewriting activity, such as a free text, an outline, or a set of words.
- Be sure to give students feedback on the prewriting activities. Encourage them to write about the topics that seem to have the most potential and to avoid those that are too long or that don't work as stories.
- For example, if a student presents a free text in which he talks about the possibility of writing about all the language teachers he has had, that would be too long, so you should encourage him to reduce the topic (for example, writing only from a teacher).
Step 3. Encourage students to draft from scratch
For some students, it is easy to draft, while for others it is difficult. In any case, it is important that students have plenty of time to review their work, so encourage them to start writing well before the due date.
For example, if the assignment is due April 1, then students should start drafting at least a week in advance (or earlier if possible). This way, they will have enough time to review their work
Step 4. Organize a class review session
Revision is one of the most important parts of writing, so be sure to emphasize its importance to students. Dedicate at least one entire class to conducting a classroom review workshop. Provide students with worksheets to help them review their own or their peers' work. Also, ask them to rate each other's stories using the instructions you created for the assignment. The following are some of the questions you can include in the worksheet:
- Does the story seem complete to you? What else could be added?
- Is the topic too small or too long? Does the text maintain focus or is it disorganized?
- Are the introduction and conclusion effective? How can they be improved?
If you are looking for a creative way to showcase students' stories, ask them to adapt essays to a different format and share them with the class. For example, they can turn the essay into a podcast, a short film, or a drawing.