But YES we had a snow ball fight yesterday, and it...was....awesome.
Let me explain.
It seems that no matter how I organize my semesters or arrange my work, there is always something that slips through the cracks, and this year it was Narrative Writing. For most people, the word "narrative" lodges in your mind and pulls up memories of the famous "What I did over Summer Vacation" essays that so many of us wrote when we were in school. Possibly it reminds you of the phrase "personal narrative" and the many small moment stories you were asked to pen about anything from your favorite Christmas memory to the time you broke a bone. But these days of "narratives" are over, and we're moving on to bigger fish.
This isn't to say that the personal narrative is dead, or that I don't want to read about what you did over summer vacation - I do! But I ALSO want to read different types of narratives, more PARCC-y narratives, narratives that require some intensive thought and showcase your knowledge as a reader AND a writer/storyteller.
As a class and grade level, we've spent some time writing analytical essays (Does Percy Jackson have ADHD? Explain the foreshadowing Riordan uses in Chapter 1. Should we be afraid of spiders?) and small research papers (Greek gods, Famous Women, Rivers that flow South to North). The kids are going to be pretty good at these essays later this week on the PARCC test - and later on in life! But I needed a way to offer a crash course on this "new" Narrative Writing that was fun and engaging.
And.....Enter the snowball fight and the last three days before PARCC testing.
We started Monday with a review of plot maps - first the generic names for the the events in the stories followed by placing events from a chapter of The Lightning Thief on a plot map (which was GREAT preparation for our end of the year independent novel study, PS). The kids did REALLY well remembering all of these items, which is great, because the first step in writing one of these PARCC style narratives is to understand the plot of the original text you read.
Yesterday, we moved on and reviewed mood, point of view, characterization...and discussed Fan Fiction, which is a real-world application of these PARCC style narratives. Now I'm not saying that EVERYONE in the world is going to sit down and write some Fan Fiction, but I like to show the kids that PARCC isn't completely off base - there are REAL people in the world who write narratives like these....and sometimes they even make money from it! But I digress...
Students each got a short (think 3 paragraphs) story that I had written featuring their favorite 6th grade teachers (OK, their ONLY 6th grade teachers....), and after reading their story (there were 3 different stories floating around), they answered the first question: What is the POV of the story and what mood did you have while reading it?
First question done, papers crumpled, snow ball fight commenced. 30 seconds of intense paper snowball throwing later, we all scrambled to find a new snowball, head back to our seats, and read the new story we'd found. (Strangely enough, some kids ended up with their SAME paper back....how that happened, I will never know!) We read the new story, and then answered question 2 - what is the main conflict in the story?
Then it was snowball fight round 2, followed by answering question 3 - who are the characters and describe them based on the TEXT (and a little bit of background knowledge, since they have been with us for the last 7 months!).
Today, we will sit down and write our story extensions based on a prompt that will look similar to this one, taken from the PARCC practice exam:
6th NARRATIVE WRITING TASK:Today you will read a passage from a story titled Magic Elizabeth. As you read, pay close attention to the characters as you answer the questions to prepare to write a narrative story of your own….
THEN: In the passage from Magic Elizabeth, the author creates a vivid setting and two distinct characters, Mrs. Chipley and Sally. Think about the details the author uses to establish the setting and the characters. Write an original story about what happens when Sally arrives at Aunt Sarah’s house. In your story, be sure to use what you have learned about the setting and the characters as you tell what happens next.
See that last part? Tell what happens next. That's what this is all about. It's creative writing....with a twist. Knowing the characters, the main plot points, the setting...all of those elements of story maps and solid fiction writing must be in place before we're asking the kids to creatively write about what happens next.
It's thrilling and exciting, but also MUCH different than anything else we've done, and not just in 6th grade. So here we go! I can't wait to see what the kids come up with today! As soon as we're allowed some internet access again (we're on NO CHROMEBOOK usage for the week while 5th grade uses the server to complete THEIR PARCC testing), maybe we'll even put some of their work up here on the blog!!
So there was our snowball fight and our Narrative Writing review in a nutshell. It was fun, educational, and a great way to spend a Tuesday!
We'll be PARCC testing tomorrow, Friday, and Monday. Be sure to encourage your child to eat a good breakfast, get a good night's sleep, and come to school ready to rock this test!!!