PARCC Prep: Narrative Writing Task Lesson Cycle

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREIf you’ve taught the narrative writing process and now want to ensure that your students are also adequately prepared for the timed PARCC Narrative Writing Task, this post is for you.

Following is a 2-3 week lesson cycle that covers the basics of this genre of writing in a fun, creative way. I’ve included (italicized) hooks to offer a sense of direction and purpose. Note: These are ideas for mini-lessons/lessons, not complete lesson plans. You can use them flexibly with other course requirements.

Before you begin, I encourage you to review these TLC Blog posts:

PS: If you like these ideas and materials, please consider subscribing to The Literacy Cookbook Website, which offers more than a thousand documents to support interdisciplinary literacy instruction, particularly for grades 3-12. As a holiday bonus, I’m offering TLC Blog followers the secret code to sign up for TLC Website access at 50% off (which means it’s only $25 for a year). Click HERE and use TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS). If you’d like to register a group at this rate, please Email me at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Day 1:

  • We’ve spent lots of time working on our narrative writing, and we have the fundamental elements down. Today we’re going to begin preparing for a slightly different type of narrative writing. The PARCC is different in that it is TIMED and it requires us to write not from complete scratch but based on a given story/passage.
  • Introduce the TLC Narrative Writing PRE-WRITING ORGANIZER, a tool that will help students map out information that they need to use in their story. It’s essentially three buckets: setting, characters, and plot.
  • Show students sample parcc-narrative-writing-prompts-12-4-16, and remind them that when they take the test, they should click forward to read the prompt before reading the passage so that they can extract useful information as they read.
  • The PARCC Narrative Writing Task requires students to read the given story and take one of two approaches: 1) Retell it from a different point of view, or 2) Extend it.       We are going to address the “Retell it from a different point of view” approach first.

Day 2:

  • Before we write anything, we need to pre-write, digesting the story so that we have enough material to write our own story.
  • Practice back-mapping a story to the organizer (whole class, some partner but review as whole class).
  • MODEL with “Goldilocks” (or the story of your choice, but fairytales are recommended because they are short and memorable, and they build cultural literacy). Here’s one version: http://www.dltk-teach.com/rhymes/goldilocks_story.htm
  • Mimic the PARCC Narrative Writing prompt for your grade, customized to that story.
  • Make sure students have their own copy of the story as you read.
  • Collect their organizers so that they can use them on Day 5.

Day 3:

  • Let’s make sure we’re comfortable with pre-writing so that we can set our own stories up for success.
  • More practice with back-mapping a story to the organizer (whole class, some partner but review as whole class): “The Three Little Pigs” (or the story of your choice).

Day 4:

  • Today, we’ll see how much you’ve absorbed about pre-writing.
  • Read Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (or the story of your choice) together.  Students fill in the organizer independently. Note: You may want to give them a blank sheet of paper to see how they do.
  • Let students share what they did. Use “show call” with your document camera (see Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Champion 2.0, pp. 290-299) to share student exemplars.

Day 5:

  • One of the PARCC Narrative Writing prompts asks us to retell the story from a different point of view. How do you write from a point of view? What are the key words you should look for? (point of view, perspective, retell)
  • Hand back their “Goldilocks” pre-writing from Day 2, for reference.
  • The “point of view” PARCC Narrative requires you to take on the attitude of the person whose point of view you are adopting.  “Dog Diary vs. Cat Diary” illustrates this concept in a hilarious way.  You might also want to use The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (by John Scieszka).  Model a partial retell of “Goldilocks” through a different point of view. Use a couple different voices (her mom, a real estate agent, Papa Bear, Goldilocks herself, the police, a social worker, her teacher, etc.). Give starter sentences from different perspectives. Note: The plot does not change even though the point of view changes.
  • Give choice of 3 different points of view (see above) and allow students to choose what point of view they want to write from. They can do this in pairs or trios as this is largely a brainstorming exercise and you want to monitor their thinking.
  • Students share their work.
  • Students select their favorite opening from today’s class work (even if it wasn’t their own) and finish writing the story from that point of view. As they are writing, make notes on what they need help with for tomorrow’s revising/editing mini-lesson.
  • HW: Students finish writing the story from that point of view.

Day 6:

  • Today we’re going to analyze what scholars wrote, highlight a few exemplars, and review several key writing points before we dive into revising and editing.
  • “Show call” some of the HW stories to highlight excellent work.
  • Deliver mini-lesson around anything you noticed yesterday that students need help with (e.g., formatting dialogue properly).  See this post for guidance.
  • CONFERENCE with students as needed.  Students type up revisions and hand in final draft for a grade. (PS, for students who need keyboarding skills support, check out http://www.play2pass.com)
  • Note: This set-up and lesson sequence gives you an opportunity to meet with students who were absent the day before and help them get caught up.

Day 7:

  • Today we’ll examine some PARCC-released student exemplars to see how PARCC scores these tasks.
  • See PARCC-released models here: https://prc.parcconline.org/assessments/parcc-released-items
  • Read the original text so they can see what students were writing about. Note that PARCC items from different years have been scored by different rubrics. Decide which rubric will be most user-friendly, and go with that. For more information about PARCC Writing Rubrics, check out these two TLC Blog posts:
  • If time permits, have students use the rubric to score (or peer-score) their writing from the day before.

Day 8:

  • We’ve been working on this task for 7 days.  Let’s see where we are. Do your best, so I will know if anyone needs more help with this approach.
  • Give students a new prompt and passage with no organizer, just a blank sheet of paper and computer. Allow 60 minutes for this (without multiple-choice questions).
  • You should grade these over the next few days, using the same rubric you used when examining student exemplars yesterday.

Day 9:

  • As I mentioned when we first started working on this PARCC Narrative Writing Task, you might see the “retell it with a different point of view” prompt or the “extend the story” prompt. We’ve spent the past week or so on the first one. Now we’re going to tackle the second. If you were to continue the story, what are some things you’d want to think about?
  • Introduce extending the story: What are the key words you should look for? (continue, extend, predict, next). Analyze several examples of the prompt.
  • What strategies should we use to answer this prompt? Note: How is this type of prompt different from the POV-changing prompt?  In this case, you need to know the POV first in order to extend the story. DO NOT CHANGE THE POV.  You are EXTENDING THE PLOT.
  • MODEL this extend-the-story approach, using “Goldilocks” again so that students can see the difference in the different prompts. Maybe she goes home and lies to her mother about where she’s been and what she’s been up to; based on her behavior in the story, we can see that she lacks integrity.

Day 10:

  • Before you can EXTEND a story, you need to be able to recall the original plot, and you need to draw inferences about the main character so that you can predict how he or she might behave.
  • Read aloud a new fairytale. Have students retell it in their own words to solidify their understanding of the plot.  Assign partner roles so that students work effectively.       Partner A retells it to Partner B, then they switch.
  • Then have them analyze the main character using the TLC Characterization Methods-DDAT.  Actions and dialogue tend to reveal character motivations that will be useful in the extended story.
  • NOTE: If students don’t understand the main character and the original plot, they will not able to EXTEND the original story properly. So you might need to pause and practice these steps with another story or two before you move forward.
  • Next, you might want to have students pair and brainstorm possible plot-extension points.  What will the main character most likely do next, and why?
  • Show call exemplary student ideas. Make sure they explain why the character will act this way.
  • Students start their extended story (which can be based on the brainstormed ideas, or not). They will finish it for HW. Monitor their writing to identify potential topics for a revising/editing mini-lesson tomorrow.
  • HW: Students write an extended story (finishing what they started in class).

Day 11:

  • Today we’re going to analyze what scholars wrote, highlight a few exemplars, and review several key writing points before we dive into revising and editing.
  • “Show call” effective aspects of students’ HW.  Again, deliver a mini-lesson targeting key aspects that they should revise/edit.
  • Students work on revising/editing while you conduct conferences. Again, note: This set-up and lesson sequence gives you an opportunity to meet with students who were absent the day before and help them get caught up.

Day 12:

  • Today we’ll examine some PARCC-released student exemplars using this different type of prompt to see how PARCC scores these tasks.
  • Again: See PARCC-released models here: https://prc.parcconline.org/assessments/parcc-released-items
  • Read the original text so they can see what students were writing about. Note that PARCC items from different years have been scored by different rubrics. Decide which rubric will be most user-friendly, and go with that.  See Day 7.
  • If time permits, have students use the rubric to score (or peer-score) their writing from the day before.

Day 13:

  • Let’s see where we are with this different prompt. Do your best, so I will know if anyone needs more help with this approach.
  • Give students a new prompt and passage with no organizer, just a blank sheet of paper and computer. Allow 60 minutes for this (without multiple-choice questions).
  • You should grade these over the next few days, using the same rubric you used when examining student exemplars yesterday.

Day 14 &ff:

  • Let’s look at how we did on the first writing prompt.
  • Hand back graded work with feedback so that students can see how they did. Let them reflect on their work: What did they do well, and what can they improve upon? What would they like more help with?
  • Use graded student work to review key concepts and support re-teaching.
  • Target mini-lessons and conferences to meet specific student needs.  See this post for guidance.

If you have any questions about anything in this post, please comment or Email me directly at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

(PS: I want to give a shout-out to the ELA teachers at Red Bank Charter School, who helped me think through this lesson cycle!)

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About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website (www.literacycookbook.com) and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (http://onlygoodbooks.wordpress.com/), and the author of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014). Check out my Website for more information about my consulting work.
This entry was posted in Assessment(s), Character Analysis, Curriculum, Lesson-planning, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Resources, Rubrics, Teach Like a Champion, Test Prep, TLC Website Resources, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to PARCC Prep: Narrative Writing Task Lesson Cycle

  1. Pingback: PARCC Prep: Narrative Writing Task Revision Checklist | The Literacy Cookbook blog

  2. Pingback: PARCC Prep: How to Approach the Narrative Writing Task | The Literacy Cookbook blog

  3. Pingback: PARCC Prep: Literary Analysis Writing DEMO LESSON | The Literacy Cookbook blog

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