After several long weeks of expository writing, we have switched back to narratives again. Students
always usually enjoy writing narratives more than expository pieces, so this was refreshing to most.
I have tried the 11-minute essay (introduced by Gretchen Bernabei) with my students for expository writing, but not for narrative. I thought I would give it a try. Rather than giving them a truism to think about, I gave them a narrative prompt. Their prompt was: Write about a time you went to your favorite place. They used the text structure: Where I was–>First Moment–>Next Moment–>Last Moment–>What I Thought.
Wow! They impressed me once again! Simply speaking–they wrote an entire narrative in 12 minutes. Yep, I gave an extra minute for their introduction (2 mins. for intro., 3 mins. for each body paragraph, and then 1 min. for concl.). The craziest part about it was that some of my students wrote more in 12 minutes than they have in an entire week of Writer’s Workshop. I guess the time crunch works! I’ll definitely be doing this again…probably as our rough draft for just about every piece of writing from here on out.
They loved it SO much, that we did it two days in a row. After sharing out on day 1, we noticed that some students were spending too much time on their way to their special place. On day 2, some students chose to use their same place and make it better, while others chose to write about somewhere totally new.
I made copies of each student’s writing (it was in their notebooks) and gave it back to them. Since they did not skip lines, we had to come up with a way to add to our stories without trying to squeeze everything between lines or in the margins. The students have cut out their writing pieces and glued them down onto large pieces of construction paper. They will be adding icons, ba…da…bing sentences, snapshots, thoughtshots, etc. on the construction paper with arrows pointing to where the information will go. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of their work.
I will also have them publish this piece of writing, so all can see what they look like after some individual conferences with students. Remember: They wrote these in 12 minutes!
I have posted a sampling of some of their papers (above). Some of them are already really well written, while others need some serious interventions. I like to post more than just awesome papers so that we can look at them and use them as a teaching tool for students. I do this in my classroom–use real student writing to show how we can make it better: adding icons, changing verbs, punctuation marks, checking for spelling rules, schesis onomaton (renaming), etc. Hopefully you can find a use for them in your classroom, too!
- Expository Writing Samples (texasteachingfanatic.com)
- Narrative vs. Expository (texasteachingfanatic.com)
- The First Installment of Expository Writing Samples (texasteachingfanatic.com)
- Latest in Writer’s Workshop- Expository Writing (thecroslandowls.wordpress.com)
- Gretchen Bernabei’s 11-Minute Essay (In 9 minutes) (texasteachingfanatic.com)
- texas expository essay prompts (educationbulletinboard.com)