Last updated: 2/19/2013


Grade K/1 - Writing - Personal Narrative

  Subject:   English Language Arts (NYS P-12 Common Core)
  Grade:   Elementary, Kindergarten, 1st Grade
  Unit Title:  

Personal Narrative

  Approx. Number of Weeks:  

3 weeks

Unit Summary:

This ELA personal narrative unit is taught within writing workshop. Students will write stories from their own lives in order to share a message with the reader. Authors can create stories from their life experiences and do not just list events in a personal narrative. Authors share an internal story about the event by including thoughts and observations. Authors choose what details to include by thinking about what is important to the message or heart of the story and stretch out important moments and events using detailed descriptions. Skills and content are taught as minilessons within the writing workshop structure. Students take what they learn in each mini-lesson and try it in their own personal narrative writing. The classroom teacher confers with students about their writing process

Next Generation Skills Addressed:
   Collaboration & Communication
   Creativity & Innovation
   Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
   Research & Information Fluency
   Social & Emotional Intelligence

1. What will students know and be able to do?


W.1.3 - Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.

W.1.5 - With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

Essential Understandings:

Writers share stories about themselves and others.

Writers make choices as they write.


Essential Questions:

Students will know:

Writing conveys messages to others.

• Writers must think of topics to write about.

• Stories can come from things that happen in real life.

• Events in stories move through time and can be sequenced

• Writers make decisions about what to include in their writing.

• A book can be used a model for writing.

• Sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings makes writing more interesting


Students will be able to:

Think of an idea for a story

Share stories verbally using a guide such as a story braid, story grammar marker or graphic organizer

Create and carry out a plan for writing

Use words and pictures to convey a message

Add pictures and words that will be interesting for the reader

Read like a writer, discussing choices the author made

Sequence events in a story

Reread our own writing

2. How will we – and they – know?

Authentic Performance Task:

Common Benchmark Assessment:

Answer the following question:

• What is a personal narrative?

Student Self-Assessment and Reflection:

• How have I changed as a writer?

• What do I do well as a writer?

• What do I want to improve in my writing?

Students should score a 3 or 4 using the PCSD District Writing Rubric.


pcsd grade1 writingrubric2009..pdf

pcsd gradeK writingrubric2009.pdf




3. What learning activities will students participate in?

Learning Activities:


 1. Using their writer’s notebooks (day books), ask students to list what they know authors do when they write a small moment story and/or

2. In a small group, ask each group to list what they know authors do when they write a small moment. Chart their ideas and/or

3. Ask students to write a small moment about something that happened to them.

(2 – 3 lessons) Use models of narratives:

 Read and read many mentor texts – calling attention to ideas the author included, sequencing, details, vocabulary, feelings, decisions the author made

(1 lesson) Share wordless picture books:

 K - Show how pictures add details and convey a message. Engage in shared writing that conveys a message. Teacher and class create a story together.

(1 lesson) Decide on important stories to share with others:

 Use literature that will trigger memories and help children see that they have something important to say, listen to stories from classmates and teachers to trigger ideas.

 Ask children to write about things that are 1. True and they can remember. 2. Short moments.

(about 3 lessons) Share personal stories (Teacher could use a story braid, checklist or other organizer):

 K – Group brainstorms for possible topics, teacher models writing about cherished topics.

 1- Group brainstorms about possible topics, share mentor texts that show examples of possible topics.

(2 lessons) Create stories using pictures and words about one topic:

 K – Model rereading what you wrote and removing unrelated details. Conference with students to verbally plan a story to exclude content not related to the topic.

 1 – Plan what details to include and rereading to eliminate extraneous details.

(3 lessons) Add details through pictures, labels and vocabulary that add interest

  K – Through conferences with teacher, answer audience questions and add to writing.

  1 – Peers and teachers question the author to add details. Peers listen to a classmate’s stories and ask questions.

(2 lessons) Sequence events for beginning, middle, end order:

 K – Draw several pictures in sequence. Go back and write the story.

 1 – Set up a structure to stretch stories to include beginning middle end. (For example Use sentence stems, use separate pages for events in stories, color code beginning, middle and end, use paper that gives a structure (four or five boxes).)

(2 lessons) Give feedback to peers after listening to stories:

 K – Focus students on one aspect of writing to listen for and respond to (ex: Is this all about one topic?)

 1 –Students respond to stories written by peers.

(1 lesson) Add feelings and thoughts of characters:

 K – Talk about how characters felt in stories. Add feeling words, happy, sad, scared.

 1 – Study mentor texts to discover how authors include feelings. Make a list of feelings found in books to include in student writing. Develop vocabulary around character feelings as students show readiness.

(1 lesson) Use connecting words and phrases to show transitions:

 1 – Find transition words and phrases in shared stories. Make a list of words that can be used to show sequence. Reread to add sequence words or add as they write.

(1 lesson) Use different types of sentences:

1 – Vary sentence beginnings. Use model texts to find different ways to start sentences. Rewrite a sentence in several ways as a part of shared writing. Use vocabulary and describing words to make sentences more interesting.

(Ongoing) Evidence a plan for carrying out writing:

• 1 - Teach students to decide how they will proceed during each workshop sessions. (Reread what I have written, Add to my writing – words or pictures, Start something new). Ask students to make decisions that will help them continue writing. Celebrate when a child makes a decision that enables him to keep working.

(Ongoing) Draft many stories and make choices about publishing:

• K & 1- Give many opportunities to start new drafts and a system for storing drafts so that students can reread their work and decide which piece to publish.

• Revision:

 Any move that brings the child closer to the vision for the narrative is revision.

Resources and References

First Grade Writers by Stephanie Parsons

Primary Units of Study by Lucy Calkins

Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover

Discipline Specific Considerations:

Vocabulary – Specialized and High Frequency

Setting – time and place of a story.

Character – the people in the story.

Sequence – the order of events.

Reread – to read again (read what you wrote).

Ideas – the things you have in your mind that you will include in your story.

Topic – the big idea of your writing and drawing.

Story Braid / story grammar marker – a representation of the necessary elements of a story or story organization (setting, character, etc.). These can be represented by icons that are attached to braids to touch, move and see as they create stories.

Narrative – a story that moves through time.

Evidence a plan – the student is able to plan his or her next steps and carry them out as appropriate for the classroom setting. (ex: teacher prompts students at the start of writing time to reread their work, add to their work or start something new. The student makes a decision and carries it out.



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