Teaching Narrative Writing (and making it fun!) can be challenging. But with these tips, everyone will love spending time in your Narrative Writing Unit, which is a win for everyone!

Black, male student standing up in front of the class and sharing his narrative writing

Building excitement around Narrative Writing

Who is the famous storyteller in your family? Everyone has one! Maybe it’s your Uncle Bill, cousin Dante, or your Grammie Kay. This is a relative who draws in every person near them as they tell their tremendous story. The story itself seems so big, it takes the breadth of the entire room! Not to mention their crazy hand gestures and funny voices that demand attention despite the surroundings. In my family, it’s my older brother. He always says, “If you’re going to tell a story, you’ve got to make it worth telling!” He’s known for taking the smallest story, and building it into a wild production, often stretching the truth very thin!

Teacher working on a narrative writing unit through distance learning.

Bringing writing to life

This is how I introduce Narrative Writing to my students in upper elementary. We are all storytellers in our own way, and this should be empowering! Stories give us the superpower to inspire others, raise awareness, build bonds, and alter viewpoints. Let students know that you want them to have this power, too! I have found that students respond best when I begin my Narrative Writing Unit discussing the story of an inspiring person of the time. Maybe it’s a “celebrity helping mother earth” story like Zac Efron, a political story such as Kamala Harris, or a social justice story such as George Floyd. It’s important to branch out from the stories of our tried-and-true heroes of the past. Use examples of names they are hearing in the media and at home right now. Point out that these people have a setting, transitions, dialogue, and characters in their story. They often experience conflict, and there may or may not be a resolution that we love. It’s also important to discuss how the story of a pet or everyday occurrence may be just as powerful as a famous person because everyone can relate to the pain and joys of real life. 

Student working at home on a digital narrative writing lesson

Using mentor texts

Once students are fired up about the power of storytelling, it’s the perfect time to sneak in Mentor Texts to illustrate how great oral stories become amazing written stories. Check out my Print + Digital Narrative Writing Units, available for 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade students for ideas about Mentor Texts, and awesome ways to implement them into your writing time!

Perfecting narrative writing

Once students feel they have the capability to tell a powerful story through narrative writing, and the resources to show them how to write it, they’ll feel confident and primed to jump into mini-lessons to tackle actual writing skills, such as dialogue, transitions, figurative language, and word choice. Most importantly, conference with your students to keep their inspired spirits burning, and give them time in class to share their writing superpower! Once they are hooked, you will have a class of confident and motivated storytellers and writers!

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Writing units and curriculum, great for narrative writing lessons

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