Gnomes Read, Write, and Think

"Yeah, I've seen those things they think are gnomes," said Ron, bent double with his head in a peony bush, "like fat little Santa Clauses with fishing rods…” -JK Rowling

Archive for the tag “Personal Narrative”

Personal Narrative Celebration

Personal Narrative

Celebration Ceremony

Please join us as we celebrate our writing!

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, siblings are all invited.

We will gather together to listen to students read their writing aloud and congratulate them on their hard work and dedication.

Mr. Danielson’s class: Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 11:00 AM-12:00 noon in Room 13

Ms. Britt’s class: Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 1:00-2:00 PM in Room 13

Ms. Stark’s class: Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 9:15-10:15 AM in Room 13

Please RSVP.

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Celebration Day

We are spending the day celebrating our growth in narrative writing. Students are collecting all their work for this first stab at personal narrative, putting it together, reflecting on their growth, and sharing their final drafts in groups. Music is playing and we are loving seeing how far we have come since our first attempts back in September!

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Dreaming the Dream of the Story

This week we have been working furiously on personal narrative. We’ve discussed several techniques for generating personal narrative ideas including thinking of a person or place that matters, reading a mentor text, as well as others. Students have all these strategies recorded in their writer’s notebooks. Parents are invited to look at them and talk with students about them and the ideas they spark.

We’ve been working really hard to “dream the dream of the story” which means putting your mind into the place and the time the story happened and trying to tell the story from inside the “character’s skin”. Taking an important moment or memory and SHOWING why it is important instead of just saying, “it was so fun,” is a huge challenge that we will continue to tackle all year.

Please read Jaden’s introduction below for an example of the kind of work we are striving to create:

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The Cliff: Personal Narrative

THE CLIFF

By Skyler

It was a beautiful day in Hawaii with the sun blazing down on us, my two cousins and my uncle maurie with his girlfriend Courtney. We were going up mount kamaia. We all started up the the wet glistening gravel to the top. The sun was still blazing down on us and I was thinking to myself please rain. I looked up and I saw a rain cloud a grey gloomy cloud heading this way. My uncle said that there was no hope, because it would take over two hours.

Next we kept walking for a bit then I could see a faint image. I saw a gorgeous waterfall with the glare of the sun and it exploding when it gets to the bottom. I wanted to just sprint towards it, but yet I was so tired I could not run.

Finally I asked my uncle if we could just sit for just two seconds. My uncle said ok. He counted to two 1, 2 come on. When we were about a few meters away from the waterfall, it was about 100ft high. My cousin Lauren said isn’t that a pretty sight almost like my shoes, my uncle interrupted and said, alright let’s go up. When I looked up to see the water fall I saw the rain clouds coming in closer. Then I thought it was definitly going to rain. My uncle said come on we are burning day light. My uncle really liked to get things done fast. But he was right if we did not it would not be pretty. When we got three quarters of the way up we could see all over the island.

When we were at the top you could actually see the rain about a half a mile away and coming fast too fast then it was right down on us.  It was really heavy when we started down, but the dirt path I guess the rain had made the ground really muddy and slippery. Suddenly my uncle and two cousins slipped and fell. We all got our clips and ropes tied the rope to the clip and clipped us to the rocks side. We started going down when we heard SNAP , my wire was snapping I slipped and fell and grabbed onto the railing I was hanging over the 100ft cliff I thought to myself I am going to die I am going to die. I felt a jolt it was my uncle he said grab my hand. I could see the fear in his eye. My two cousins rushed to get there to help .I could here Lauren saying if only there was a super mall here. I looked down to the rapids of the water. Then I could feel this slipping, my uncle had let go. I felt like Jake in avatar falling from the helicopter in slomo. I clasped my grip onto a ledge and started pulling myself up my uncle and my two cousins pulled me up. Lauren started talking about the super mall thing again. My cousin interrupted and said now is not the time to talk about that. When I got up I sat there in shock. We started down then my cousin Maryna slipped and did the exact thing I did. In my head I was thinking here we go again but anyway my cousin got up. When we got down Lauren said she would never climb a mountain again. Then the rain had stopped  finally everything was back the way it was with the sun blazing down on us. I asked if anyone was up for ice cream. They all replied really now you are bringing that up now. Then I had just remembered I was still thirsty.

A Visit from Grace: Personal Narrative

A Visit From Grace

by Sophie

        One day, like every other day, at the end of the school day, my mom picked me up.  Today, my mom took me to the donut store.  I was trying to tell my mom what I did in school that day and for some reason she seemed to be rushing me.  I started getting really angry and mad and felt the anger swelling up in me.  I was kind of spanking my mom as we were walking up to the donut store.  My mom was pointing at a white car in the parking lot and said, “look at that odd car”.  I kept looking at the car and something looked very familiar about the car, but I couldn’t tell what it was. 

 

      The back door of the car started to open, my heart was pumping and I felt myself swelling up with tears of joy.  There sitting inside the car was my best friend in the whole entire world, Grace.  I ran faster than I thought possible and I jumped into the car on top of her.  I hugged her for what felt like half an hour.  I was so filled with joy and the feeling of butterflies fluttering in my tummy.  I was struck dumb by this surprise.

 

     Our families walked into the donut store together and my mom gave me the great news that Grace gets to come to our house and sleep over.  I was also going t o get to miss school and stay home with Grace the next day.  I was as happy as a clam and bubbling over with glee.  We ate our donuts and visited with Grace’s two baby twin brothers.  They looked a lot like Grace.  They had big bubbly eyes and curious joyous smiles.

***

     As we were driving home with Grace, she pulled out her Kindle Fire and showed me a game called Angry Squirells.  When we got to my house I was sparkling and I was so happy and excited.  Everything you could say to describe happy, I went NUTS!

Draft 3: Cut! Cut! Cut!

In this draft I tried to ruthlessly cut out unnecessary but dearly loved parts of the narrative.  Scroll backward to experience this momentous journey from the beginning.  Don’t even talk to me about formatting errors. I’m not sure if I am willing to call this my final draft.  Final draft seems so…final.

Training Wheels
Lara Stark

It was a typical overcast summer day in Petersburg, Alaska when I was sitting on my front porch sulking.  I wanted to learn to ride my bike without training wheels but had decided it was impossible and that I would never learn.  I was feeling sorry for myself, angry at the world and so filled with frustration that I just wanted to sit in a pile and fume about it.  My bike was laying in a heap on the side of the road, one training wheel spinning lazily.

I had tried and tried to ride my bike without training wheels.  My mom had tried to help me, but I just couldn’t seem to find my balance without them.  We had even tried taking one wheel off and having me ride side-car style but even that didn’t work.  It was hopeless.  I was a lost cause.  My head hung down whenever I looked at my bike or saw the other kids in the neighborhood riding by on their training-wheel-free bikes.  My little brother, who was only riding a trike, would try to give me advice and I would just yell at him, “Shut up, Daniel, you don’t even know.  You only know how to ride a trike.  Leave me alone!”  He would quickly ride away on his trike, trying to get away from his mean big sister.

As I sat on the porch, feeling completely hopeless, my dad drove up.  That was strange.  He was home early.  Usually when he got home it was late and he was tired.  He got out of the car and walked over to me.  That was really strange.  He was usually thinking about other things besides us kids.  He walked over and said, “Whatsamatter, Lat?” Again, strange.  I didn’t think he ever noticed when things were wrong with me or I was feeling bad.

“I can’t ride my bike without training wheels and training wheels are for babies.  I hate my stupid bike and I hate stupid training wheels.  And stupid Daniel keeps telling me what to do and he doesn’t even know how to ride a bike.  It’s so stupid,” I said in one giant breath, the words streaming out of my mouth in an angry jumble.

“Hmmm.  Well, let’s see if I can help with that.”  Hugely strange!  My dad?  Help me with something as small and unimportant as riding a bike?  What was going on here?  He walked to the garage and got a screwdriver.  He took off the training wheels and picked the bike up off the ground.  “Ok, get on,” he said.

“Dad, I can’t.  It’s too hard.  I can’t do it without training wheels,” I whined.

“Lat, I’m gonna help you.  Come on, get on the bike,” he coaxed.  I sighed and walked over to the bike.  I slumped onto it.  I knew this was not going to work.  I grabbed the handlebars but my whole body had an attitude that said, “This is stupid.  I can’t do it.”

My dad started to push me and help me balance at the same time.  The pedals started to turn.  I barely pushed them at all.  I let him do all the work.  He pushed me one last time and stopped running, the bike toppled over and I fell.  “See!  I can’t do it!” I screamed at him.  Tears were streaming down my face and I was laying in the dirt sobbing.

“Get up.  You can do it.  Get up,” my dad said in a firm voice.  “You’ve got to try.”  The same scene played out a few more times, me not trying, him pushing, me falling, me crying. Bike drama.  Finally, he yelled at me, “Come on, get up right now, no more crying. I’m trying to help you.”

That made me mad.  How come he was yelling at me?  It wasn’t my fault I couldn’t ride the bike.  The bike was stupid.  It wasn’t my fault.  I was going to show him how impossible it was.  This time when he pushed me I actually tried to pedal and steer.  I was going to show him that even if I tried hard it was an impossible task.  I pedaled and tried to balance.  “See Dad, look how wobbly I am!  See!  I can’t do it! I told you! I can’t do it by myself!”

At that moment, his voice came to me from impossibly far away.  I was still upright.  I was still pedaling.  I had not fallen.  “You are!  You are doing it!  You’re riding, Lat!”  He had let go.  I was riding all by myself, with no training wheels!  I turned my head to look back and see how far away he was and instantly lost control of the bike and crashed.  I didn’t care though.  I bounced back up.  “I did it!  Dad! I did it!  I rode it without training wheels!”  I picked the bike up and turned it around and ran with it back down the road to where my dad was standing.  The smile on his face was gigantic.  “Come on Dad, help me again!” I was beaming.

After a few more pushes and a few more crashes, I got to the point that day where I could ride to the end of the street without crashing.  Eventually, I got to the point where I could stop and start without falling or needing anyone to help me.  As an adult, I can look back at this moment and see that this was just the beginning of a long string of lessons like this one.  My dad helped me see that when I get stubborn and angry and believe I cannot do something, I can’t.  If I am willing to accept help and try hard, I can do things I thought were impossible.  The training wheels were only the beginning.

Draft 2.5: More Internal Story

Scroll backward to see drafts 1 and 2.  Forgive formatting issues, please!

Training Wheels
Lara Stark

 

It was a typical overcast summer day in Petersburg, Alaska when I was sitting on my front porch sulking.  I wanted to learn to ride my bike without training wheels but had decided it was impossible and that I would never learn.  I was feeling sorry for myself, angry at the world and so filled with frustration that I just wanted to sit in pile and fume about it.  My bike was laying in a heap on the side of the road, one training wheel spinning lazily.  It was red and had a big banana seat and tall handlebars. It used to have tassels but they had been shredded by use and crashes.  It was summer and the road was dry.  Even the mud puddles were empty.

I had tried and tried to ride my bike without training wheels.  My mom had tried to help me, but I just couldn’t seem to find my balance without training wheels.  She wasn’t a very fast runner and couldn’t push me far enough or fast enough to get me going. She got frustrated with me easily and would yell at me when I didn’t ride the bike right.  That made me mad and I would yell back.  She was also busy and didn’t have the time to take the training wheels off all the time the way I wanted.  This made me mad.  It seemed like she was always busy with other things.  She didn’t see that me learning to ride without training wheels was the most important issue of the summer.  We had even tried taking one wheel off and having me ride without training wheels but even that didn’t work.  It was hopeless.  I was a lost cause.  My head hung down whenever I looked at my bike or saw the other kids in the neighborhood riding by on their training-wheel-free bikes.  My little brother, who was only riding a trike, would try to give me advice and I would just yell at him, “Shut up, Daniel, you don’t even know.  You only know how to ride a trike.  Leave me alone!”  He would quickly ride away on his trike, trying to get away from his mean big sister.  Sometimes I even just rode his trike so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the bike problems.

As I sat on the porch, feeling completely hopeless, my dad drove up.  That was strange.  He was home early.  Usually when he got home it was late and he was tired.  He was always fishing or working all the fishing gear or unloading or ten thousand other things he had to do.  In the summer he never had any free time at all.  He got out of the car and walked over to me.  That was really strange.  He was usually thinking about other things besides us kids.  He walked over and said, “Whatsamatter, Lat?” Again, strange.  He didn’t even yell at me about leaving my bike laying in the middle of the street!  I didn’t think he ever noticed when things were wrong with me or I was feeling bad.

“I can’t ride my bike without training wheels and training wheels are for babies.  I hate my stupid bike and I hate stupid training wheels.  And stupid Daniel keeps telling me what to do and he doesn’t even know how to ride a bike.  It’s so stupid,” I said in one giant breath, the words streaming out of my mouth in an angry jumble.  I was so mad.

“Hmmm.  Well, let’s see if I can help with that.”  Hugely strange!  My dad?  Help me with something as small and unimportant as riding a bike?  What was going on here? Why wasn’t he mumbling about money or nets or the price of fish? He walked to the garage and got a screwdriver.  He took off the training wheels and picked the bike up off the ground.  “Ok, get on,” he said.

“Dad, I can’t.  It’s too hard.  I can’t do it without training wheels,” I whined.  Didn’t he get it?  I couldn’t do it!

“Lat, I’m gonna help you.  Come on, get on the bike,” he coaxed.  I sighed and walked over to the bike.  I slumped onto it.  I knew this was not going to work.  I grabbed the handlebars but my whole body had an attitude that said, “This is stupid.  I can’t do it.”  I thought I knew it wouldn’t work.

My dad started to push me and help me balance at the same time.  The pedals started to turn.  I barely pushed them at all.  I was being deliberately lazy.  I let him do all the work.  He pushed me one last time and stopped running, the bike toppled over and I fell.  “See!  I can’t do it!” I screamed at him.  Tears were streaming down my face and I was laying in the dirt sobbing.

“Get up.  You can do it.  Get up,” my dad said in a firm voice.  “You’ve got to try.”  The same scene played out a few more times.  I fell and fell and fell.  Finally, he yelled at me, “Come on, get up right now, no more crying. I’m trying to help you.”

That made me mad.  He was such a jerk and a pig.  How come he was yelling at me?  It wasn’t my fault I couldn’t ride the bike.  The bike was stupid.  It wasn’t my fault.  I was going to show him how impossible it was.  This was so dumb!  This time when he pushed me I actually tried to pedal and steer.  I was going to show him that even if I tried hard it was an impossible task.  I pedaled and tried to balance.  “See Dad, look how wobbly I am!  See!  I can’t do it! I told you! I can’t do it by myself!”

At that moment, his voice came to me from impossibly far away.  I was still upright. I was riding the bike!  I was still pedaling.  I had not fallen.  “You are!  You are doing it!  You’re riding, Lat!”  He had let go.  I was riding all by myself, with no training wheels!  I couldn’t believe it!  I turned my head to look back and see how far away he was and instantly lost control of the bike and crashed.  I didn’t care though.  I didn’t even care.  I bounced back up.  “I did it!  Dad! I did it!  I rode it without training wheels!”  I picked the bike up and turned it around and ran with it back down the road to where my dad was standing.  I could tell he was proud.  The smile on his face was gigantic.  “Come on Dad, help me again!”

After a few more pushes and a few more crashes, I got to the point that day where I could ride to the end of the street without crashing.  It seemed like I learned fast, but really it was probably hours that we stayed out there.  Eventually, I got to the point where I could stop and start without falling or needing anyone to help me.  It was one of the best days I ever had with my dad.  As an adult, I can look back at this moment and see that this was just the beginning of a long string of lessons like this one.  My dad helped me see that when I get stubborn and angry and believe I cannot do something, I can’t.  If I am willing to accept help and try hard, I can do things I thought were impossible.  The training wheels were only the beginning.

Second Draft: Focus on the Internal Story

In this second draft of “Training Wheels” I focused on the internal story and tried to show the thoughts and feelings I had in that moment in addition to what actually happened.  Please scroll to the last post to see the first draft.  Also, please forgive the maddening formatting errors that happen when I paste from Word into the blog. (!!!)

 

Training Wheels
Lara Stark

 

It was a typical overcast summer day in Petersburg, Alaska when I was sitting on my front porch sulking.  I wanted to learn to ride my bike without training wheels.  I was angry.

I had tried and tried to ride my bike without training wheels.  I just couldn’t do it. Even my little brother seemed to know more about riding bikes than I did.  He could only ride a trike!

As I sat on the porch my dad drove up.  He walked over and said, “Whatsamatter, Lat?”

“I can’t ride my bike without training wheels and training wheels are for babies.”  I was so mad.

“Hmmm.  Well, let’s see if I can help with that.”  He walked to the garage and got a screwdriver.  He took off the training wheels and picked the bike up off the ground.  “Ok, get on,” he said.

“Dad, I can’t.  It’s too hard.  I can’t do it without training wheels,” I said.

“Lat, I’m gonna help you.  Come on, get on the bike,” he said.

My dad started to push me and help me balance at the same time.  The pedals started to turn.  I barely pushed them at all.  He pushed me one last time and stopped running, the bike toppled over and I fell.  “See!  I can’t do it!” I screamed at him.

“Get up.  You can do it.  Get up,” my dad said.  “You’ve got to try.”  The same scene played out a few more times.  I fell and fell and fell.

Finally, I got on the bike and he pushed me.  “See Dad, look how wobbly I am!  See!  I can’t do it! I told you! I can’t do it by myself!”

At that moment, he said, “You are!  You are doing it!  You’re riding, Lat!”  He had let go! I turned my head to look back and see how far away he was and instantly lost control of the bike and crashed.

“Come on Dad, help me again!” I cried.

After a few more pushes and a few more crashes, I got to the point that day where I could ride to the end of the street without crashing. I was really happy and thankful that my dad had helped me finally ride without training wheels.

Revision!

This week we will be slaving away at one of the hardest parts of writing: revision! In the spirit of slaving away, I have created numerous drafts of my own personal narrative to share with students.  We will be looking over the drafts in class and using them as an entrance point for revision in their own personal narratives.  With no further ado, draft one:

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Training Wheels
Lara Stark

 

It was a typical overcast summer day in Petersburg, Alaska when I was sitting on my front porch.  I wanted to learn to ride my bike without training wheels.

I had tried and tried to ride my bike without training wheels.  It was so hard. Even my little brother seemed to know more about riding bikes than I did.  He could only ride a trike!

As I sat on the porch my dad drove up.  He walked over and said, “Whatsamatter, Lat?”

“I can’t ride my bike without training wheels.”  I said.

“Hmmm.  Well, let’s see if I can help with that.”  He walked to the garage and got a screwdriver.  He took off the training wheels and picked the bike up off the ground.  “Ok, get on,” he said.

“Dad, I can’t.  It’s too hard.  I can’t do it without training wheels,” I said.

“Lat, I’m gonna help you.  Come on, get on the bike,” he said.

My dad started to push me and help me balance at the same time.  The pedals started to turn.  The bike toppled over and I fell.  “See!  I can’t do it!” I said.

“Get up.  You can do it.  Get up,” my dad said.  “You’ve got to try.”  The same scene played out a few more times.  I fell and fell and fell.

Finally, I got on the bike and he pushed me.  At that moment, he said, “You are!  You are doing it!  You’re riding, Lat!”  I turned my head and crashed.

“Come on Dad, help me again!” I yelled.

After a few more pushes and a few more crashes, I got to the point that day where I could ride to the end of the street without crashing.

Personal Narrative Progress

In class, students are using school computers to create a high-quality draft of their personal narratives.

What should students be working on at home if they are typing a draft at school? Revision and editing!

Students should use the personal narrative checklist in their writer’s notebooks to revise and edit their narrative.  Adults at home can offer to read and provide feedback, too.  This support is very much appreciated!

PERSONAL NARRATIVE CHECKLIST:

I have written about a small moment in time.
My personal narrative contains a SO WHAT?  I have shown why my story is important.
I have shown how the characters felt and what they thought.
I have written 4-5 paragraphs and my narrative has a strong   beginning, middle, and end.
I have used transition words.
I have correctly written dialogue using a variety of tags.
I have used figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification,   etc.)
I used interesting, precise, accurate words.
I re-read my narrative many times and added, cut, and reworded to   improve it.
I have proofread my narrative many times for spelling, punctuation,   and grammar.  My narrative is as   mechanically correct as I can make it.

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