But when we study storytelling with our students, we forget all that. When my students asked why we read novels and stories, and why we wrote personal narratives and fiction, my defense was pretty lame: I probably said something about the importance of having a shared body of knowledge, or about the enjoyment of losing yourself in a book, or about the benefits of having writing skills in general. I didn’t bother to tell them that the ability to tell a captivating story is one of the things that makes human beings extraordinary. If we can pass that on to our students, then we will be going beyond a school assignment; we will be doing something transcendent. I used this process with middle school students, but it would work with most age groups.When teaching narrative writing, many teachers separate personal narratives from short stories.Then there are unique books like Curtis Sittenfeld’s brilliant novel American Wife, based heavily on the early life of Laura Bush but written in first person, with fictional names and settings, and labeled as a work of fiction.Tags: Mla Documented Research PaperGrocery Store Business Plan SampleGeorgia Southern University DissertationBoys Will Be Boys EssayLove Campus EssayPsychology Nature Nurture Essay
With that in mind, the process for teaching narrative writing can be exactly the same for writing personal narratives or short stories; it’s the same skill set.
So if you think your students can handle the freedom, you might decide to let them choose personal narrative or fiction for a narrative writing assignment, or simply tell them that whether the story is true doesn’t matter, as long as they are telling a good one.
Without even thinking about it, they begin sentences with “This one time…” and launch into stories about their earlier childhood experiences.
Students are natural storytellers; learning how to do it well on paper is simply a matter of studying good models, then imitating what those writers do.
And by listening to the stories of their classmates, they will be adding onto that list and remembering more of their own stories. Besides being a good way to bond with students, sharing stories will help them see more possibilities for the ones they can tell.
Now that students have a good library of their own personal stories pulled into short-term memory, shift your focus to a more formal study of what a story looks like.
Here are some examples of what that kind of flexibility could allow: If we aren’t too restrictive about what we call these pieces, and we talk about different possibilities with our students, we can end up with lots of interesting outcomes.
Meanwhile, we’re still teaching students the craft of narrative writing.
Just last weekend my husband and I watched the movie Lion and were glued to the screen the whole time, knowing it was based on a true story.
James Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces sold millions of copies as a memoir but was later found to contain more than a little bit of fiction.