Skippyjon Jones is one of my favorite kids’ books of all time. I have read it aloud to my classes every year! This year, with sixth grade, I am using it to teach them narrative writing strategies. (all pictures are from Amazon.com).
I start off by reading the story aloud. I have them gather around, just like in elementary school. They totally get into it. I do my best to read with a Spanish accent.
After the story, we talk about what the author did to make the story entertaining. We brainstorm a list together. They don’t always know the names of the strategies, but they do a pretty good job of explaining why it was a good story. Then, I pass out a list of strategies I want them to focus on.
In the next few days, we do a mini lesson on one or two strategies a day before our writer’s workshop time. Then, I ask them to try as many strategies as they can in their stories. For example, on Thursday, I taught them to write similes using a smile map, and then they tried adding a simile to the story they’re currently working on.
A major shift in Common Core is moving from personal narratives to more research-based narratives. However, I still start with personal narratives, as it’s easier for them to learn to write narrative essays this way. They learn the basic narrative techniques (beginning, end, following a narrative sequence, transitions, descriptive strategies, etc.). Next, we’ll do a historical fiction narrative, which is more like what they’ll need to write on their Common Core state assessment. From there, it’s pretty easy to get them to write any type of essay with a narrative structure.
You can view my entire Skippyjon Jones strategies handout here: Write Like Judy Schachner!