I am coming at you today with a totally new narrative writing idea. It’s an idea that not only challenges and engages kids, but it also downright excites them. I’ve seen these lessons play out in oodles of classrooms throughout my area (2nd-5th grade) and it’s a winner EVERY SINGLE TIME. I blogged about this idea last month HERE, but made the unfortunate mistake of sharing it on Election Day. Um . . . yeah . . . that Election Day. Nice one, Dolling. Needless to say, it got LOST. Therefore, I am circling back around to touch on it again with a holiday-flavored lesson attached that will surely unlock some NARRATIVE WRITING MAGIC in your classroom.
What is this idea, you ask? Well, I have figured out a way to create a NARRATIVE EXPERIENCE for our kids by incorporating an audio component into the mix. Instead of giving students a topic or story starter in written form, I provide it in AUDIO form. But, I didn’t stop there when formulating this idea. Sure, you could just orally read a story starter and it would be a solid lesson. However, I wanted a way to increase engagement and get the creative juices flowing even more. I want them to actually EXPERIENCE a story. Therefore, I teamed up with Ron Brown’s Intelli-Tunes (my dad) to spice up that story starter with sound effects and background music that supports the story. Boy, did he ever come through. He provided me with the most charming professionally recorded audio file that helps get a story well underway (characters, setting, and problem), but is left unfinished. (Think old time radio shows with those killer cliffhangers that delighted children and encouraged imaginations to run wild.) I’m sure you already figured it out, but this is where the student role kicks in. They get to finish the tale. And, do they EVER finish it. After teaching six of these lessons in different classrooms throughout my area (grades 2-5), I have yet to have a “sitter.” Everyone’s pencil is up and moving and the room is silent. Check this second grade crew out and it’s the week before break . . . #soCOOLitiserrie
This file is especially fun as it is packed full of festive flavor. The Holiday Hero is a story about a child who steps up to save Christmas for a handful of people after he/she encounters Santa experiencing some serious trouble. I tried this activity with a second grade class last week and the excitement was contagious. The whole room was wide-eyed as the magical audio track played. The sound effects delighted the children and you could hear a pin drop throughout the listening process. Oh, and the stories that were generated from this doozie were absolutely priceless. We had everything from John Wayne and Michael Jordan appearances to monster truck gift deliveries and magic reindeer dust.
Wanna try this in your classroom? Snag the Holiday Hero audio file and lesson plan HERE. It can be used as a quick write or an in-depth narrative writing experience (complete with story planner). I see this working very well in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. However, it can play just as well in 4th and 5th grade rooms with the right spin.
Wanna take a little listen to a snippet of the file I’m blabbering on about today? Click the link below to hear a portion of the HOLIDAY HERO . . . I dare you not to smile 🙂
Before I jet, let me fill you in on the backstory of this whole idea. I sat in on a handful of writing planning meetings with my upper elementary co-workers last spring and was shocked to learn just how tough the state assessments are on our third, fourth, and fifth grade students. I always knew the tests were difficult, but what’s actually being dished out to our kids is a whole new level of hard. Not only are students being asked to cross reference multiple sources, but they are also often required to listen and respond to an audio clip. (Um, hello . . . this is nuts and terribly hard for most students. I feel those non-auditory learners’ pain.)
With this said, I wanted to create a resource that not only worked on honing those upper elementary writing skills, but also tapped into a whole new arm of instruction – auditory processing. That’s when the idea of LISTEN AND WRITE came to me. Why not create a series of FUN activities that prepares students for testing, while engaging them throughout the entire process? My thought process is simple. After we have trained our students to listen with these novel exercises, we can then begin to up the rigor and introduce audio component writing exercises that are more like the ones they will encounter on state tests. The coolest part is that teachers are agreeing with me after watching these play out in their classrooms.
If you like what you see unfold with this fun freebie, come on back and treat yourself to the whole LISTEN & WRITE collection. It’s an awesome narrative pack with seven imaginative tales that will encourage and engage even your most reluctant writers. Non-fiction packets with more of a straightforward test prep flair are coming soon 🙂
Alright, there you have it. A fun NO-PREP activity to help unlock some narrative writing magic this holiday season. Thanks for visiting me today. I’ll see you soon with another “out of the box” idea.