Exploring the Personal Narrative
Lesson Plan Description
Students will define the characteristics of a personal narrative in order to be able to identify this type of writing in their reading as well as to be able to create their own narratives.
Primary Learning Objective(s):
Students will be able to define the characteristics of a personal narrative, explain the difference between a "memoir" and an "autobiography," create a reading journal in which they will log their reading activities.
Additional Learning Objective(s):
California Content Standards:
- 1.1: Read narrative and expository text aloud with grade-appropriate fluency and accuracy and with appropriate pacing, intonation, and expression.
Vocabulary and Concept Development
- 1.2: Apply knowledge of word origins, derivations, synonyms, antonyms, and idioms to determine the meaning of words and phrases.
- 2.2: Use appropriate strategies when reading for different purposes (e.g., full comprehension, location of information, personal enjoyment).
- 2.5: Compare and contrast information on the same topic after reading several passages or articles.
Listening and Speaking
- 1.1: Ask thoughtful questions and respond to relevant questions with appropriate elaboration in oral settings.
Strategy: Students will complete this lesson through the use of three strategies:
- Guided Discovery: students will create definitions of literary terms after their exposure to chosen material;
- Cooperative Learning: students will flesh out their definitions and understanding of the terms through peer and class discussion;
- Individualized Work: students will apply their definitions of literary terms to their readings and note their findings in individual reading journals.
- Support: Students with visual impairments may benefit from the use of audio recordings of personal narratives. Students will use the audio recordings to determine the characteristics of a personal narrative. Additionally, students that are below reading level will benefit from the ability to select personal narratives from various works at differentiated reading levels.
- Challenge: Students in need of a challenge will be allowed to examine literary work beyond their grade level. Additionally these students will be expected to create more encompassing definitions of the literary terms. Finally, these students may be asked to assist their peers.
- English Language Learner: In order to successfully complete this lesson, ELL students will benefit from the assistance of a paraprofessional aide. Also, ELL students will be paired with students in need of a challenge, and will be bolstered in their understanding of the literary terms through intra-peer cooperation.
Finally, ELLs at the lowest levels of English Language mastery will benefit from one-on-one assistance from the teacher.
Introduction: Play the beginning of one recorded autobiography, and one recorded memoir (Boy, Zlata’s Diary, and Owls in the Family.) Also read the beginnings of several of the classroom collection of memoirs and autobiographies suggested in the Materials. Ask students what kind of books they think these are: Fiction? Non-fiction? Can you tell? How?
- After listening to the recordings and readings, write the term "Personal Narrative" on the board, and have students copy this into the beginning of their reading journals. Challenge students to create their own definition of the term, and then invite volunteers to share their answers.
- Continuing this activity, write "Characteristics" and "Special Vocabulary" on the board, again having students copy this into their journals. Reread one or two of the selections after asking students to listen for special vocabulary or characteristics. Provide time for discussion and sharing after each selection is reread.
- On the board, compile a list of characteristics and vocabulary essential to understanding the "personal narrative." Suggest vital examples that students fail to notice in order to ensure comprehension.
- Inform students that they will be learning how to compose their own "personal narratives" as they read the work of other writers. Briefly introduce a number of the books suggested in Materials for class use.
- Introduce the terms "memoir" and "autobiography," and explain their meanings. Have students compare and contrast the definitions of these terms. Then, ask students to note which books in the Materials collection have these terms in their titles.
- Invite students to select a book from the classroom set and provide silent sustained reading time in which to begin their reading.
Closure: At the close of the lesson, tell students of their assignment to continue reading in their selected book, and to use their journals to record any characteristics of a "personal narrative," and/or any specialized vocabulary as they did earlier in the lesson. Explain to students that their reading journals will be used to log all of their reading during this unit, and that students will be expected to keep their journals at school and at home. Assessment: Students will be observed during class discussion and will be evaluated based upon their ability to listen to memoirs, create a definition of a "personal narrative," and differentiate between the terms "memoir" and "autobiography." Students will also be evaluated based upon their ability to identity and define characteristics and subject-specific vocabulary. These assessments will be drawn based upon work provided in students' reading journals. Student decoding and fluency will be an ongoing assessment throughout the length of this unit.
Materials: Filipovic, Zlata. Zlata’s Diary. Audiocassette. St. Paul, MN: Penguin Highbridge Audio Books, 1994. Mowat, Farley. Dogs Who Wouldn’t Be/Owls in the Family. Audiocassette. Van Wyck, SC: NorthStar Audio Books, 1999. Cole, Joanna, and Wendy Saul. On the Bus with Joanna Cole, a Creative Autobiography. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996. Filipovic, Zlata. Zlata’s Diary, A Child’s Life in Sarajevo. New York: Viking Penguin, 1994. Fritz, Jean. Homesick: My Own Story. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1982. Surprising Myself. Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen, 1992. Howe, James. Playing with Words. Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen, 1994.
Students will be observed during class discussion and will be evaluated based upon their ability to listen to memoirs, create a definition of a "personal narrative," and differentiate between the terms "memoir" and "autobiography." Students will also be evaluated based upon their ability to identity and define characteristics and subject-specific vocabulary. These assessments will be drawn based upon work provided in students' reading journals. Student decoding and fluency will be an ongoing assessment throughout the length of this unit.