Writing the Personal Narrative Essay

Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
Writing the Personal Narrative Essay
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Unit Rationale
One of the most popular forms of nonfiction is the memoir as shown by their preponderance on The New York Times bestseller list. These memoirs, however, tend to be by celebrities or people who have lived through great difficulty in life. When we ask students to write a personal narrative, an essay about their lives, they look to these popular books as models.
The result of this that students respond with the following: “I have nothing to write about! My life is boring.” When we compare their lives to the lives of the authors of bestselling memoir, the students are correct. While a few of our students may have dramatic events to write about, most have lived lives they consider unremarkable.
As a way to counter this, I give my students model essays that focus on small events that enlighten the writer, bring him or her to a truth about life. By studying these essays, students become more aware of the types of observation that can lead to an essay illuminating small, but important, truths—lessons that they have learned through living and that they should share with the world.
Since I do not have the rights to the model essays that I use (they appear in textbooks that I have gathered over the years), I found links to online examples of essays that follow this pattern. I have also included the essay analyses that I use to guide students to the techniques that these authors use to go about structuring the events of their lives into essays showing small epiphanies that the students learn to treasure.
The unit has students work through the entire writing process as they adapt standard essay structure to their own version of a personal narrative.
Included in the unit is a weekly sentence practice mini-unit that works with the errors that appear most often in student writing, rubrics to use to evaluate rough and final drafts, a crossword puzzle for students to use to practice the academic vocabulary, and a final test covering the general concepts involved in writing a personal narrative.
I have included rubrics for the work students do to plan, revise, edit, and reflect as well as a rubric for the rough draft, and two rubrics for the final draft: one based on content and organization and one based on mechanics and style.
I have included editing mini-lessons as bell-ringers. They are in the folder labeled "Sentences."
I have included two OneNote sections that cover all the teacher materials as well as the materials for students.

The sample below has introductions to some of the sections of the unit, sample lessons and sample lesson plans.

Unit Goals
Virginia Standards of Learning 2010
9.6 The student will develop narrative, expository, and persuasive writings for a variety of audiences and purposes.
a) Generate, gather, and organize ideas for writing.
b) Plan and organize writing to address a specific audience and purpose.
d) Write clear, varied sentences using specific vocabulary and information.
e) Elaborate ideas clearly through word choice and vivid description.
f) Arrange paragraphs into a logical progression.
g) Use transitions between paragraphs and ideas.
h) Revise writing for clarity of content, accuracy and depth of information.
i) Use computer technology to plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish writing.

9.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraphing.
a) Use and apply rules for the parts of a sentence, including subject/verb, direct/indirect object, and predicate nominative/predicate adjective, and coordinating conjunctions.
b) Use parallel structures across sentences and paragraphs.
c) Use appositives, main clauses, and subordinate clauses.
d) Use commas and semicolons to distinguish and divide main and subordinate clauses.
e) Distinguish between active and passive voice.
f) Proofread and edit writing for intended audience and purpose.

10.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraphing.
a) Distinguish between active and passive voice.
b) Apply rules governing use of the colon.
e) Analyze the writing of others.
f) Describe how the author accomplishes the intended purpose of a piece of writing.
g) Suggest how writing might be improved.
h) Proofread and edit final product for intended audience and purpose.

11.6 The student will write in a variety of forms, with an emphasis on persuasion.
a) Generate, gather, plan, and organize ideas for writing to address a specific audience and purpose.
c) Organize ideas in a sustained and logical manner.
d) Clarify and defend position with precise and relevant evidence elaborating ideas clearly and accurately.
e) Adapt content, vocabulary, voice, and tone to audience, purpose, and situation.
f) Revise writing for clarity of content, accuracy and depth of information.
g) Use computer technology to plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish writing.

11.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraphing.
b) Use verbals and verbal phrases to achieve sentence conciseness and variety.
c) Distinguish between active and passive voice.
e) Adjust sentence and paragraph structures for a variety of purposes and audiences.
f) Proofread and edit writing for intended audience and purpose.

12.7 The student will write, revise, and edit writing.
a) Edit, proofread, and prepare writing for intended audience and purpose.
b) Apply grammatical conventions to edit writing for correct use of language, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

Virginia Standards of Learning 2017
9.6 The student will write in a variety of forms to include expository, persuasive, reflective, and analytic with an emphasis on persuasion and analysis.
a) Engage in writing as a recursive process.
b) Plan, organize, and write for a variety of audiences and purposes.
c) Objectively introduce and develop topics, incorporating evidence and maintaining an organized structure and a formal style.
l) Revise writing for clarity of content, accuracy, and depth of information.
9.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, paragraphing, and Standard English.
a) Use parallel structure across sentences and paragraphs.
b) Use appositives, main clauses, and subordinate clauses.
c) Use commas and semicolons to distinguish and divide main and subordinate clauses.
d) Distinguish between active and passive voice.
e) Use a variety of sentence structures to infuse sentence variety in writing.
10.6 The student will write in a variety of forms to include persuasive, reflective, interpretive, and analytic with an emphasis on persuasion and analysis.
a) Engage in writing as a recursive process.
b) Plan and organize writing to address a specific audience and purpose.
c) Adjust writing content, technique, and voice for a variety of audiences and purposes.
e) Objectively introduce and develop topics, incorporating evidence and maintaining an organized structure and a formal style.
k) Elaborate ideas clearly through word choice.
m) Revise writing for clarity of content, accuracy, and depth of information.
n) Write and revise to a standard acceptable both in the workplace and in postsecondary education.
10.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, paragraphing, and Standard English.
a) Use parallel structure across sentences and paragraphs.
b) Use complex sentence structure to infuse sentence variety in writing.
c) Distinguish between active and passive voice.
d) Use colons correctly.
e) Analyze the writing of others and suggest how writing might be improved.
11.6 The student will write in a variety of forms, to include persuasive/argumentative, reflective, interpretive, and analytic with an emphasis on persuasion/argumentation.
a) Apply components of a recursive writing process for multiple purposes to create a focused, organized, and coherent piece of writing to address a specific audience and purpose.
d) Adapt evidence, vocabulary, voice, and tone to audience, purpose, and situation.
g) Revise writing for clarity of content, accuracy and depth of information.
h) Write and revise to a standard acceptable both in the workplace and in postsecondary education.
11.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, paragraphing, and Standard English.
a) Use complex sentence structure to infuse sentence variety in writing.
b) Use verbals and verbal phrases correctly to achieve sentence conciseness and variety.
c) Distinguish between active and passive voice.
12.6 The student will write in a variety of forms to include persuasive/argumentative reflective, interpretive, and analytic with an emphasis on persuasion/argumentation.
a) Apply components of a recursive writing process for multiple purposes to create a focused, organized, and coherent piece of writing to address a specific audience and purpose.
e) Adapt evidence, vocabulary, voice, and tone to audience, purpose, and situation.
g) Revise writing for clarity of content, depth of information, and technique of presentation.
h) Write and revise to a standard acceptable both in the workplace and in postsecondary education.
12.7 The student will self- and peer-edit writing for Standard English.
a) Use complex sentence structure to infuse sentence variety in writing.
b) Edit, proofread, and prepare writing for intended audience and purpose.

Common Core Standards
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing
Text Types and Purposes
3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Range of Writing
10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.


Total Pages
140 student pages, lesson plans and PowerPoints
Answer Key
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Teaching Duration
1 month
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