Monday, September 26th

Session 2: Calling on All Strategies to Write Up a Storm

I am SO impressed with all of your observations skills and abilities to recognize strong writing strategies from Ai’s personal narrative.

Check out the new chart! (Add to your Mini-Lesson notes)

Strategies for Generating Personal Narrative Topics

  • Think of a person that matters to you, list small moment topics, choose one, and write a story


Teaching Point:

Published writers think of a PLACE that matters and make a quick sketch jotting down powerful, small moments from that place.


Today, we will be learning from a Newbery Award winning author, Jack Gantos!

Let’s study Jack Gantos’s neighborhood map.


“I have included a map of my neighborhood from sixth grade, when I lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We had alligators in our canal, so I drew them in. One of them ate my dog, BoBo, the dumbest dog in the world. We had mean dogs in the neighborhood and one bit me and I thought it gave me rabies. I threw up a huge bellyful of spaghetti on the living room wall and we could never remove the stain. I drew it on the map. We lived next to the Pagoda family — whom my mother labeled the “low supervision family.” They were, and I was forbidden to play there. Of course, I was wildly attracted to them and got into lots of trouble — see that little boy on the map, flying through the air over their yard? That is my brother Pete. I broke his arm at the Pagoda house while playing “Barnum and Bailey Circus Dare.” We had an airplane crash in our neighborhood. We had grumpy old people that didn’t like children. I built a golf course by burying a coffee can in everyone’s yard. We sailed boats in the canal, and lots, lots more. It’s all on the map. The final step is to add the major characters: your family, friends, and yourself.”
  • Even though there are lots of pictures and captions, it is still of one very specific place: the house and yard where he grew up.
  • Each detail on the map could turn into a whole story capturing the small moment that happened there.
  • Every picture is a personal narrative WAITING to be written!

Courtney’s Sketch

Add this idea for generating narrative writing ideas to your mini-lesson notes:

  • Think about a place that matters, use pictures and quick notes to jot about the small moments that occurred there, choose one and write the whole story

Active Engagement:

Think of a place that matters to you– a place where you have spent a great deal of time.

Create a sketch of this place that you will use as a “jumping point” and inspiration for today’s (and potentially future) writing tasks.

Writing Task:

  • Write a personal narrative about an positive or negative “small moment” experience
  • Include characters (you and someone important)
  • Make it powerful– one “episode” with detail (not a summary over a stretch of time)
  • Have readers picture the episode with a small action and exact dialogue
Share/Wrap Up:
Take risks in your writing! Your homework is to finish the entry you began in class about an important place in your life.

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