The Narrative Essay Assignment

Freshmen in Room G17 were introduced to their first major writing assignment, a personal or fictional narrative. I regularly start freshman year with a narrative because, not only does it allow me to better get to know students through personal writing, but it also gives students an opportunity to write in a genre with which they are already familiar.

The prompt for the narrative is very general. Students should recount an event from their past, imbuing it with insights from their current, more wise selves. Students can choose an actual event, make up an event, or blend fictional and personal. This style of storytelling follows the style of James Hurst’s “The Scarlet Ibis,” which we read in class already, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which we will read in class in a few weeks.

Students will compose an entire draft in a class period, then we will spend two weeks improving this original rough draft. Using the common core standards as a guide, students will review elements of narrative through mini-lessons. These mini-lessons will position students to return to the familiar “The Scarlet Ibis” and look to their choice book to notice the decisions that these authors made. For example, our first mini-lesson will ask students to consider the way the story and their choice book engaged and oriented the reader in the opening paragraphs or pages of the narrative. After students analyze these texts, they will return to their own short story, strengthening the opening paragraphs. Throughout this unit, students will consider the use of mood, tone, character, pacing, sequence, dialogue, description, reflection, and conclusion, and their grade on this narrative will be based on their ability to apply these lessons to their own narrative.

After students have a completed draft, they will work in small peer groups to provide meaningful feedback in content, style, and grammar. I will not grade or provide feedback on drafts unless students schedule a meeting with me before school, after school, or during a study hall or lunch period. Students who request a conference with me on their completed drafts will set a conference agenda (What type of feedback do I need?), and we will work together to find areas for improvement and make a plan for revision.

All handouts associated with this task are embedded in the lesson plans. Access lesson plans by clicking “Lesson Plans” under your child’s course on the menu of this website.