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posted: Fri, Feb 9th, 2018

Moments in time

Fifth-graders in Kathy Fiebel’s class recently used memorable personal events from their lives and shaped them into stories. The personal narratives spanned short periods of time and were brought to life using some of the literary devices the students had learned. These included the use of vivid action words, details, strong sensory descriptions, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and compelling opening sentences.

Characters “dashed,” “whispered,” and “demanded.” In a town there were “birds chirping and flowers blooming.” “Giant golden doors” welcomed a family to a hotel. And in this powerful lead by Madison Rauh, so many devices came together to put the reader outdoors during a storm:

“SPLASH! The rain crashed down on us as we sat on the soaked seats at the trolley stop.”

Students wrote about events such as an away soccer game in the summer heat, a zip-lining adventure, cave rafting, a winning catch, and meeting a new baby sister. 

Before writing, students broke up their events into eight scenes which they storyboarded to form visual outlines. During this early part of the pre-writing process, the focus was on establishing the characters, action, setting, and mood of each event. When the storyboards were completed, students used them to tell their stories to a peer who provided personal feedback.

Mrs. Fiebel regularly incorporates the use of peer feedback in writing, whether it’s one on one or as a class. Writing, afterall, is done for the reader so it helps to get a reader’s feedback on a piece’s strengths and weakness.

As the young authors were writing, she also circulated throughout the classroom to look for strong examples of the literary elements she’d gone over with them and asked students to read their work to the class.

“They might only share their first paragraph, but this could help to inspire others,” she said. “Students take pride in sharing their writing successes, and these successes are exactly what some of the struggling students need to model their own writing after.”

Mrs. Fiebel also used her own personal narrative of losing her first tooth as an example while the students were crafting their stories.

When the narratives were completed, they were printed out and displayed on the bulletin board outside the classroom.

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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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