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Writing Lesson Plan

Prewriting a Narrative

Teacher: Jennifer Lawrence
Class Profile: adult advanced writing


Materials Needed:

Learning/Teaching Activities:: (50 minutes)

Business:: (5 minutes)

Review/Introduction :: (10 minutes)

In our last class, we learned how to give instructions in an ordered sequence.  We practiced the instructions by making a sandwich. Do you remember some of the vocabulary we used to help order our instructions?  (List on the board: words like "first/second/third," "then," "after," etc.)

Getting our ideas in logical order is also important in other kinds of writing.  Today we're going to talk about writing stories from our own lives, and how to order these stories so that they're easy to follow and understand.

What happens when a personal story is NOT in order?  Model a story that meanders all over the place, jumping in time from past to future and back again.  Talk about why we want people to understand our stories.

Practice: (15 minutes)

Practice/Peer Evaluation: (10-15 minutes)

Conclusion/Evaluation: (5 minutes)

Contingency Plan:

Self Evaluation:

Justification for my activity:

I wanted to do a prewriting activity because it seems like many writing classes focus on getting a finished product turned in, without guiding students through the process of formulating ideas and creating a final draft.

I've also noticed, in the writing class that I teach as well as in the writing class I observed in the ELC, that international students have different ideas about the sequencing of their writing.  For example, I had one student from Norway who claims that it's expected, in her country, that you tell stories with flashbacks from the present to the past.  Her writing was confusing!  So I thought that mapping out a story in sequence would help students clearly see, first of all, what order they write in.  I made it a visual activity, with pictures, so that students wouldn't be bogged down with vocabulary or grammar when structuring their ideas.

I also believe that when I explain a somewhat complicated or foreign concept to students, it's important to provide a model.  Having my own map on an overhead helped students imagine what to do. I feel strongly that a writing class should be heavily focused on practicing through WRITING, with little time spent on instruction.  I tried to incorporate plenty of practice time in my lesson.  I also think that peer evaluations are very appropriate for writing classes, because too often students complain that they're only writing for a teacher.  If they know that a peer will read and evaluate their paper, they're more likely to write something interesting, that will appeal to a wider audience.

Ideas for improvement/weaknesses:

Several of my peers suggested that I have some students present their pictures to the class and tell their stories.  I think that's a great idea--maybe I could have them actually draw their maps on overheads so that they can present them for everyone to see.  The one drawback is that I'm not sure if there would be time for all of this in one class period.  It might work to follow up the next day with a presentation to the class.

One thing I noticed through presenting was that many students told stories that were similar to the one I modeled.  I think that's one drawback of modeling: students are less likely to be creative and come up with their own ideas of how to do things. I think it would have been good, as well, if I'd circulated more as students were sharing their stories in pairs.  Some of the pairs got so excited about telling their stories that they started talking about other things, and got off track.

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1997 © Dr. Lynn E. Henrichsen
Department of Linguistics
Brigham Young University
Last Updated: Saturday, November 22, 1997