Something I’ve learned about my 8th graders is they are bored silly of writing personal narratives. I can’t say I blame them; they write several personal narratives a year from grades 3-7. After all, how many personal stories does one really have to tell?
I try to mix things up a bit for them while still teaching narrative writing. There is no law that says narrative writing has to be true. In fact, I think my students’ writing abilities really shine when they are allowed to write fiction. This week, we started historical fiction narratives.
I created a Google doc to walk them through some prewriting thinking and explain the assignment. If I don’t “force” them to think by writing out some things, they will just blindly start the paper. The doc asks them about historical fiction they’ve read, historical time periods and people they find interesting, etc. just to get them thinking, and then they create their own character.
Before they started writing, they had to show me their “thinking” page and discuss their story idea with me. The biggest challenge for them is narrowing the topic to one incident and not sharing the whole life story of their character. This is something I discuss with every single student as we talk about their essay idea.
They have some great ideas for essays, including characters who were:
– helped through the underground railroad by Harriet Tubman
– in concentration camps
– in Ford’s Theater when Lincoln was shot
– involved in specific wars
There are so many other great ideas that are escaping my head right now–I should’ve written them down! I think they’ve had fun being able to choose their favorite time in history. You could make this project even more cross-curricular by having them choose an event in history that they are currently studying, but I didn’t do that this time.
Because research and proper citations are a big part of the Common Core Stardards, I added in a research piece. The essay must include at least two facts that are cited properly, so they will get some simple research review (we did full research papers in the fall). The full rubric for the assignment is linked up on the Google doc I shared above.
I’m really looking forward to their final products! Teachers: what other non-personal narrative assignments do you do?