Friday, October 7, 2011

Teaching Small-Moment Personal Narratives

I love teaching personal narratives. I've been using Lucy Calkin's Writiing Workshop for five years, and each year I'm amazed at the way that my students develop as writers. I use a lot of exemplar texts, but one of my favorites is "Trapped In The Drive-Thru" by Alfred Matthews, aka Weird Al Yankovich. His song is not only a fantastic example of a small-moment story (a story that takes place in 15 minutes or less), but it's also a great example of using dialogue to tell the story. I first hand out the transcript of "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" to each student, and read it as a small moment story, pointing out the things the author does well in this narrative. As I read, I try to break up the rhythm so the kids actually don't know it rhymes. After I read it, I reveal that it is indeed a song, and we watch the video.

By the end of the lesson, the kids have a better understanding of what a small moment story is, but they also have a better understanding of how to use dialogue to enliven a story.

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