Happy Saturday to you! Pardon the construction around here! I’ve been experimenting with some backgrounds and style to this little old blog.  And THAT is time consuming! 🙂

I hope your Saturday is relaxing as it is around this house.  We have a very hard day planned of catching up on Shark Week shows, snacking, and watching a couple of movies.  We’ve got Jupiter Ascending and Kingsman: The Secret Service Agent on the lineup.  I may have messed up those titles…

Obviously, I didn’t pick out the movies! But as long as I get my popcorn, I am a happy girl! 🙂

Today,(Tonight…it took me a long time to get my photos together! 🙂 ) I wanted to spend some time talking about teaching Personal Narrative in the intermediate grades.  If you’ve read some of my past posts, I have a soft spot for writing and have worried about the impact of Common Core and the teaching of writing.  When our state (Florida) began implementing the standards a few years ago it seemed to take the aspect of teaching students how to write their own stories about their own personal experiences and ideas.

No way, I say!  It is SO important our kids develop the ability to write about themselves. I am NOT going to get on my soapbox about that.  If you desire my further opinions on that, I’ll save it for another post because it would consume this entire post! J  I’m kind of already annoying myself with political talk!

So, moving along…

I just finally posted my Personal Narrative Writing Unit.  I have several other writing units, but have been a slacker about posting them on this little blog and talking about them!  My writing units have a unique quality which I have found to be very successful with my students.  Notebook Anchor Charts.

Why notebook anchor charts?

So, notebook anchor charts are charts that I create based on anchor charts I’ve used in my classroom or any strategies/tips I think will be useful for my students to have at their fingertips.  We use composition notebooks for every subject in our school/district.  They aren’t just notebooks, they are a tool.  I teach at a Title I, low SES, high ESOL populated school.  Most classes are inclusive, so you can expect to have varying levels and abilities in your classroom.  I am constantly trying to find ways to support my students’ needs, including those at higher ability levels because we also have a gifted program.  I have found that these notebook charts help students be more independent and give them the ability to support their own thinking!

Two weeks ago, my sweet little niece came into town.  She is going to 3rd grade! I have spent most of my career in 3rd grade and am so excited for her! She saw my “office” and some of my materials.  Well, one thing led to another and we ended up creating a notebook for Writing, Reading, Math, and Science.  While I have some charts for Math, I didn’t really have any for Science handy! But, below I will take you on a photo tour of her Reading and Writing Notebook.  If you are interested in any of these, I will leave the link at the bottom.  If you would like a sample of the Personal Narrative Writing Unit for FREE, sign up on the Hello Bar.  (That’s new and I’m really excited about it because I can be slow about these thingsJ)

Notebooks Crafting
We used scrapbook paper and duct tape to cover her notebooks!

This unit is great for starting off Writer’s Workshop at the beginning of the year! That is exactly how I will be using it this year. In the past, we have taught a 10 day Launching Writer’s Workshop Unit and then a Personal Narrative Unit.  This unit combines the two because with the Common Core Writing expectations, you kind of have to kick it in to high gear as soon as possible.  On the first day of school the past few years, we have used this I am… on the first page of the Writer’s Notebook.  This is not an original idea and came straight from Pinterest.  I have seen it on several blogs/websites so I don’t know who the original genius is…I would LOVE to give them credit and thank them!!! 🙂 I think of Jayla as a beginning of the year 3rd grader right now.  With my experience in 3rd grade, I have a really good idea of the needs of that age.  They need a lot of structure and modeling at the beginning and then you wean them off of it and they start to amaze you!  So, I created this graphic organizer of that same “I” that I have seen on Pinterest.  Not because EVERY child will need it, but because some will.  Jayla is a very smart girl, but she lacks self-confidence.  This is the BIGGEST issue in struggling writers.  I’ll refrain from getting started on THAT because I WILL get sidetracked.  So, at the beginning of the year I focus on the following:

  • High structure-scaffolding when they need it, LOTS of modeling
  • Building CONFIDENCE
  • Building COMMUNITY
  • Building CRAFT

Jayla drew the I at first in her notebook and I thought it looked great (if only she could see what teachers see!)  Well, she didn’t like it because her handwriting didn’t look like mine.  I tried to tell her how wonderful her writing is, but she began to get frustrated and I began to get frustrated and then I had to remind myself that this was “fun time” and I was not “teaching” (hehe).  So, I gave her the graphic organizer.  My tip to you is to keep this handy for those reluctant writers who need a little boost. This will empower them to feel more confident.  It is always so interesting to watch my little case study.  She copied a lot of what I had in my notebook, which is so typical for her developmentally.  As we practiced using the charts in her notebook, she started to branch off and do her own thing, which you can see in her plan! 🙂 I love how she wrote one of my story ideas which involved her except it was in her perspective!:):) There’s a point of view lesson right there!

I am.Graphic Organizer I am

Getting Ideas:

There are lots of ways students can get ideas.   There is a chart included in this resource which lists different ways to do so.  You can see pictures below of some of the ways we have done this.

Sketch a Map of Where you Live and Ideas from those Places

Writing Idea Map B&D

Big Feelings and Times We Felt That Way

Writing Ideas.Feeling

Make a Plan! We use Post-Its to create a Beginning, Middle, and End with the big things that happened in those parts.  Then, below we add our thoughts and feelings.  My wonderful reading coach, Michelle, taught me this trick!

Jayla started her own thing and I kind of liked it.  If only she had finished…:)


Make a PlanPlanning Organizer

The following pictures are various charts included in the unit.  As I continue use these charts this year in my classroom, you may see them pop up again!

My Personal Word Wall    NotebookEntries2   Transition Words.Speaker Tags Writers Make A Movie.2 Writers Make a Movie Writing Entry Details

More to come on this topic of Narrative Writing! If you are interested in any of these charts, plus so much more check out this resource.

Slide7 Slide6 Slide5 Personal Narrative Writing Unit

Happy Writing!  Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and here is my question for YOU!

What does Writing Workshop look like for you at the beginning of the year?


Question 2:

How do you organize your Writers’ Notebooks? 🙂