The Chart that Keeps On Giving: Writing Personal Narratives

Yesterday, I shared this picture of a chart we have been building and creating over the last couple of weeks. 

I'll be sharing how I've used this chart in a few different ways over both our reading and writing units. For today, I'm showing how we used this chart to check that the personal narratives we were writing had all parts to a narrative.

We were wrapping up our first drafts for our personal narratives and I noticed some kiddos didn't really have a climax, falling action, and/or solution. We had been studying other writers of personal narratives with text like Owl Moon and Come on Rain. Both are excellent examples of personal narratives and follow this story arc. We used those to study what each part of a story looks like, sounds like, and feels like. They made their own story arcs in their writing binders color coded to match the example below that is on our chart.

Just like when we write, we don't always realize what we have and what we don't have. It helps to have someone else experience our writing and give us some insight. So we used this g.o. I made to help out a classmate and get some advice as well. 

(click on the image to download it)
Now, this covers the words and ideas that I've taught into over the last 2 weeks, so it might not be exactly what you use, but it worked so well with my group!

The first step was to label their arcs with their partner to see if they remembered the parts to a story. 

Next, they took turns reading their stories. One partner would read and the other one would check each part that they could clearly notice in their partner's writing. I of course modeled this with my own writing first and we reviewed what to listen for in each part of a story before we started this.

This was really powerful for students! A lot of them realized, due to their partner, what part(s) of the story they needed to revise in their own story so that the reader could follow along.

Lastly, students asked for suggestions from their partner. I was really impressed with the suggestions they gave their partner. It sparked students motivation to go back and start revising that part of their story. This was such a great way for students to get some feedback while also practicing the skills we've been learning about. I was impressed how even one of my students (who loves to write, but struggles with presenting cohesive ideas) was able to give a suggestion to one kiddo who has probably the best personal narrative I've had a student write in the last 3 years. It showed that even the best of stories can be improved. 

We'll keep using this chart during our series book club unit as we discuss how characters "drive" the story and why characters act the way they do. It's become the most useful chart we've created this year!



  1. How cool to see each student give AND receive suggestions from peers! I absolutely love the chart! THANK YOU!

  2. Have you used this in conjunction with teaching story elements? I think it'd be an awesome idea to combine it!


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