Teaching personal narratives at any grade level is a fairly simple concept. However, you must introduce the subject matter in a non threatening way, especially for lower grade levels.
When you are teaching this type of writing/method of storytelling to these elementary school students, employ the following steps to increase the productivity of your lesson.
- Ask students to verbally share stories about themselves.
- Read a personal narrative to the students.
- Introduce the term "personal narrative" to the students.
- Ask the students to write out their stories.
At higher grade levels, you could ask students to write down a story first. Remember that you are dealing with first graders. Certainly, they can write to some degree; however, for the most part, they are just learning. Children are eager to talk about their experiences, so ask them to share a story about their pet, favorite vacation, etc.
Now that you have asked the students to contribute to the discussion, read them a solid example of a personal narrative. You could read them an autobiography geared toward younger students or you could read a personal narrative that you have written about yourself. In any case, the reinforcement of examples will help you get to the next step.
Inductive methods of teaching are often successful because they do not essentially attack the student with ambiguous and/or overwhelming terms.
Consider what would happen if you told a group of five, six, and seven year olds that you were going to teach them about personal narrative today. Many of them would become overwhelmed because they have never heard this term before.
By having them share their own stories and reading them a solid example of personal narrative, they already know what the term means once it is introduced. Sum up the telling of tales by saying, "We have all just told our personal narratives. A personal narrative is a story about yourself."
Now that the students presumably have a firm grasp of what a personal narrative is, you can ask them to write out their own. Once again, since the class is made up of first graders tell them to write about five sentences for a story about themselves.
Be prepared to walk around the room and help out each of the students individually. In addition to needing help with writing the actual words, they might need some guidance towards picking a topic.
If the students are too shy to read their writing in front of the entire class, have them share their stories with a small group.
The personal narrative lesson plan presented above is designed for a fairly advanced group of first graders. You might feel that your students are not ready for all of this information. In that case, only go over the first three steps of the project, leaving the writing portion to be added toward the end of the first grade year.