classroom environment · motivation · narrative · personal narrative · writing workshop

Shaking Up Personal Narrative

Ever since I read this post by Katie Kraushaar, I've been thinking about personal narrative and wondering why it is that students, particularly in middle elementary grades and beyond, are sometimes less than enthusiastic about this genre. Like Katie, I have felt the mood change in a classroom the moment the teacher mentions the words "personal narrative."… Continue reading Shaking Up Personal Narrative

personal narrative

Why Narrative Writing Matters

When I first left the classroom to become a staff developer in New York City, I had to learn quickly to adjust to new schools, and new groups of teachers. I worked hard to have open conversations with the teachers I worked with, where teachers could ask anything. "No such thing as a bad question!" But there was one phrase that I dreaded. Four words that left me with no idea how to respond.

assessment · narrative


Today my students turned in their narratives.  I couldn't wait to read them, so I began today during my lunch.  I was touched by their writing, and impressed by the significant revisions many of them made.  Tonight (as my kids were coloring) I looked over the narratives again and began to pile them according to… Continue reading Assessing.

narrative · plan · writer's notebook · writing workshop


This summer I heard Penny Kittle speak about using storyboards.  This week I've tried them out in classrooms.  They aren't all that different from one of the ways I talk to kids about planning.  I encourage them to think in scenes & then sketch in their notebook a flow chart of sorts, using pictures and… Continue reading Storyboards.

authors · books · mentor texts · personal narrative

Personal Narrative Texts.

In many of the classrooms I'm working in, we are moving into a Personal Narrative study.  I asked teachers to gather books they would like to use to anchor their teaching.  Below is a list of some of the texts: A Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and David Catrow Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good,… Continue reading Personal Narrative Texts.