I think all teachers would agree that teaching writing is a grueling process. Narrative writing, in particular, is tough because it involves many different components. Whether students are writing a personal narrative or a fictional narrative, it is critical that they learn to correctly construct their writing in a way that highlights their storyline. Flowing through the elements of plot, character, and dialogue can quickly become overwhelming. In order to ease the feelings of overwhelm, I like to utilize graphic organizers throughout the entire writing process. That way, students get a visual representation for each component of their narrative. Each organizer and the specific order of implementation is detailed below.
Narrative Concept Map
It might be obvious, but starting the teaching process by defining the term “narrative” is critical. Of course, students know what stories are, but the word narrative might be new to them. The concept map provides a space to record the definition, add synonyms, construct an original sentence, and develop concrete examples. If done well, students will start the writing process with a strong understanding of the expectations for narrative writing.
Theme Concept Map
The next graphic organizer is focused on the concept of theme. In order for students to start thinking about possible themes ahead of time, I like to complete it with students before they start writing. If students are clear on their theme, their stories tend to have more depth and meaning. The theme organizer is similar to the narrative organizer outlined above. Students write the definition, provide a synonym or two, write an original sentence, then generate theme examples from familiar stories they have read in the past.
Plot Terms Concept Map
It is hard to write a narrative without a basic understanding of plot. The ability to differentiate and understand the elements of plot is necessary for crafting an effective story. Using a concept map to define each term will help students when it comes time to construct each part of their story. Each element of the plot serves a specific purpose, which will hopefully be clear to students after they have completed the concept map for each term.
Literary Devices Concept Map
I like to spend a bit more time teaching students about the different literary devices they might want to include in their narratives. Typically, I focus on one device at a time, possibly even creating a separate lesson plan for each one. The graphic organizer is nice because students can refer back to it when writing their narratives. I like to require students to use three examples of literary devices in their story, which makes this graphic organizer a great point of reference later on in the writing process.
Character Traits Bubble Map
Brainstorming character traits is always fun because it gives students a chance to think about their favorite fictional characters and the specific traits those characters possess. Filling up the bubble map also gives students a great deal of inspiration to work with when it’s time for them to start constructing characters of their own.
The character maps provide students with space to dive deeper into character creation. It forces them to think about each character’s physical description, actions, feelings, and thoughts. Without the character maps, students run the risk of creating flat characters. Taking the time to create deep and meaningful characters is an integral part of crafting a narrative.
Transition Words Bubble Map
Teaching students to incorporate different transition words into their narratives is so important. Transition words are extremely helpful for the reader to be able to follow along and keep pace with the narrative. Without them, the story might feel jumpy and disconnected. Providing the reader with transition words, helps them understand how the ideas flow together. Like the literacy devices map described above, the transition words bubble map works well as a reference tool when students begin writing their narratives.