Writing_Workshop

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Writing Skills
Personal Writing
A Workshop for 4th Grade
With a focus on
Personal Narratives
L. Rozelle, Winter 2010
What is Personal Writing?
1. Personal writing is when you write about
yourself and express your own thoughts
and opinions.
2. Personal writing depends very much on
your connection to your subject, so choose
a topic that you know a lot about and one
that allows you to express yourself freely!
Forms of Personal Writing
1. Narrative story –
fictional or true
(personal narrative)
2. Poetry
3. Letter writing
4. Journal writing – writing is a personal
expression of the author’s innermost
thoughts, often recorded with privacy
in mind.
Why personal writing?
1. Writers/authors show others what they think
about the world. YOU are an author!
2. Authors express themselves by sharing
personal thoughts either for only
themselves in a journal …
or to share with others.
3. To entertain or give pleasure
to the reader. Why do we read?
Why personal writing?
• To remember and record memories.
• To communicate feelings and emotions –
writing from your heart!
• To share an
event with
a friend.
• Tell the reader what
you’ve learned as a
result of an event in
your life.
What is a Personal Narrative
1. A personal narrative is one way to tell a
story about something you feel strongly
about – in chronological order with a plot
and story line.
2. Do not just list the events: We did this,
and then we did this, and next we did this,
and last we did this. Boring … 
3. A story is more interesting to the reader! 
4. Topics revolve around things you have
enjoyed, such as some type of event
that happened in your own life.
For a Personal Narrative
1. Focus on moments in which everyone of your
senses were alive – something that made you
feel something or notice something:
1. A special memory of a
birthday party or celebration
2. Your first meeting with someone
3. An especially scary experience of spending
the night alone in a strange place
Freely jot down ideas! Brainstorm means
write down each and every idea that
comes to your mind!
Personal Narratives have …
1. A story that is written about YOU in
chronological order, which has a
beginning, a middle, and an end.
2. The story has a plot line.
3. A setting is described.
4. Characters and dialogue included
5. Problem and solution
6. Descriptive writing & figurative
language in your story. Create
an image in the reader’s mind.
Mountain Flow Map
A story that you read or write has a plot.
A plot is all of the action in the story in
chronological (sequential) order.
MIDDLE
Rising Action/Middle
MIDDLE / Turning Point
Climax/Turning Point
The point in the story when the
tension is at the highest level, or
when the solution to the problem
is just about to be revealed, or
shown, to the reader.
The middle part of your
story will be MOST of the
story … including dialogue
sensory details and amazing
word choice!
ENDING
Resolution/Ending
The end of the story,
which tells how the
story ends. It may
reveal the solution or
what was learned.
MIDDLE
Rising Action/Middle
The central part of a story
which includes a problem or
problems or some kind of
built up tension in the story.
Author’s weave their
message or a “big idea” into
the plot of their story.
BEGINNING
The Beginning
1. Good lead that
introduces the main idea
and draws the reader in.
2. Setting: Time and place
3. Characters: introduced
This is a “skeleton” or brief sketch of
your story, not the actual rough draft.
How to find a good topic?
Sometimes the topic is given
to you and you must brainstorm
to come up with a great personal
narrative …
Other times you are given some choices
on what you will write about. In this case,
always write something that excites you;
something you feel passionate about;
something you have a lot to say about.
You may make up some details that
you do not remember well.
Details draw your reader in!!!
Steps to Prewriting/Brainstorming!
If you have to come up with your own topic,
these are some things you can do to
brainstorm:
1. Brainstorm possible topics
in a circle thinking map.
2. Then select the topic you
will write about.
3. In a circle map you may write down your
ideas or draw pictures for your ideas!
Circle Map Brainstorm Ideas!
My trip
to Paris,
France
Saving
money to
buy a
present for
my mom.
Going to
pick out
my first
puppy
Flying to
Hawaii
A day in
the snow
My Hawaii
Vacation
My time
on the
computer
A day at
the Santa
Monica
pier and
beach
Story Ideas
The first
memory of
Christmas
Trip to the
farmer’s
market
My first
day of
1st grade
Waiting
for my
baby
sister to
be born
My favorite
lunch box
My
favorite
backpack
My first
best
friend
Circle Map Brainstorm Ideas!
Story Ideas
More Steps to Brainstorming
1. Brainstorm the details of your setting
and your characters and what they
are like.
2. Brainstorm your topic in a
sensory chart.
3. Brainstorm the events in a
cluster chart -- the things that happen
that are important to the main idea.
4. You may also complete a
mountain flow map.
Bring your topic into FOCUS!
What kind of a story will it be?
Funny story, an adventure, a
mysterious story, or simply an entertaining story?
• Brainstorm all the details of your setting.
• Describe the character traits of your characters.
• Describe the situation of your story; the
background of your story.
Answer the 5Ws:
Who, What, Where, When, Why?
Excellent tips for brainstorming:
1. Choose a topic that allows you
to express yourself in detail!
2. For a personal narrative, this
includes any event about you!
3. Focus on moments in which all of your
senses were alive! This event extremely
activated your senses. You may organize
your thoughts in a sensory chart, based
around the experience you will write about.
Feel, Touch, Taste, See, Smell …
Sensory Chart
See Hear
Taste Smell
Touch
Feel
5 Ws Chart – an example
Characters What happens?
Setting
Setting
Who What Where When
Me
You may
want to
Mom
use the
Dad
cluster
Little
chart to
brother,
brainSam
storm
Grandma the
events
that are
important to
your
main
topic.
When I
was
seven, …
Hawaii?
Santa Monica
beach?
A stormy day at
school in the
winter 2009?
Purpose
Why
Purpose
or lesson
learned
You are
the
author.
What
was the
big idea
or
author’s
messag
e in your
story?
Weave it
into your
story!
Characters
& their traits
What are
your
characters
like? Timid,
fearful,
brave,
funny?
What do
they like
and dislike?
What are
you like?
What are
you
thinking/
feeling?
5 Ws Chart – an example
Topic: “My flight to visit my uncle”
Who: Me, Mom, Miss Hughes (flight attendant)
What: I was flying on an airplane
When: Over the holidays
Where: Going to Puerto Rico
Why: To visit my uncle
This is a good way to organize your topic.
Cluster Chart – Brainstorm some details
I kept
snapping my
rubber
watchband.
The hallways were
decorated with
paintings or flowers.
Setting: Hospital,
springtime
Characters: Grandma, me
Topic: Waiting for my baby
sister to be born
I looked at the
new babies
sleeping and
wiggling.
It seems like we were
there forever watching
people run around.
I ate grilled
cheese
sandwiches
in the
cafeteria.
Grandma’s
fuzzy yellow
sweater
smelled good
and felt soft.
Mountain Flow Map
A story that you read or write has a plot.
A plot is all of the action in the story in
chronological (sequential) order.
MIDDLE
Rising Action/Middle
MIDDLE / Turning Point
Climax/Turning Point
The point in the story when the
tension is at the highest level, or
when the solution to the problem
is just about to be revealed, or
shown, to the reader.
The middle part of your
story will be MOST of the
story … including dialogue
sensory details and amazing
word choice!
ENDING
Resolution/Ending
The end of the story,
which tells how the
story ends. It may
reveal the solution or
what was learned.
MIDDLE
Rising Action/Middle
The central part of a story
which includes a problem or
problems or some kind of
built up tension in the story.
Author’s weave their
message or a “big idea” into
the plot of their story.
BEGINNING
The Beginning
1. Good lead that
introduces the main idea
and draws the reader in.
2. Setting: Time and place
3. Characters: introduced
This is a “skeleton” or brief sketch of
your story, not the actual rough draft.
details
Make your story interesting!
The more focused you are on one topic
(one moment),
the more details,
and the more creative you are with
your writing …
then the more engaged
your reader will be
and the more
interesting your story
will be! Hurray!!!
Make your story interesting!
Keep your reader interested with your
amazing word choice:
1. Be specific! Specific nouns and specific and
active verbs and adjective and adverbs.
2. Descriptive and figurative language
3. Dialogue – speaking parts
that add life to your story
and tell us about your characters.
4. Show what you’re thinking and feeling!
Personal Narratives: A Review
1. Personal narratives are written in the first
person (using “I”).
2. Personal narratives are written in the past
tense. Use PAST TENSE verbs because it
already happened.
3. It is a retelling of an event using story
elements: setting, character, plot
(this is not a just listing
what happened).
4. You highlight only
one specific moment.
Writing your rough draft
• As you write your draft, pretend
you are telling a friend. Your
personal voice will come out
more.
• Writing details that are connected to
your main topic will give richness to your
writing.
Engage your reader!
What does that mean?
Create images in reader’s heads
with your details.
Drafting your beginning
1. Muy Importante! As the writer you must
address the writing prompt at the
beginning of the story so that your reader
knows the topic of your story.
2. Hook the reader with a good beginning:
1. Describe the setting and situation, 2. Show
action and dialogue
3. Remember that you must introduce
the topic at the beginning of
your rough draft and then
take your reader on a
journey! Vroom!!!
Review all of your brainstorming notes
I kept
snapping my
rubber
watchband.
The hallways were
decorated with
paintings or flowers.
Setting: Hospital,
springtime
Characters: Grandma, me
Topic: Waiting for my baby
sister to be born
I looked at the
new babies
sleeping and
wiggling.
It seems like we were
there forever watching
people run around.
I ate grilled
cheese
sandwiches
in the
cafeteria.
Grandma’s
fuzzy yellow
sweater
smelled good
and felt soft.
Draft your beginning
They were behind the glass window,
wiggling and crying. I’d never seen so many
babies in one place! I was standing there
because I’d gotten up to take a walk down the
hallway of the hospital after my grandmother
had asked me to stop making so much noise. I
had been nervously snapping my rubber
watchband against my wrist for the last hour. I
really didn’t notice I had been doing this, but
we were both impatiently waiting for my
baby sister to be born. It seemed like
we’d been waiting forever!
Introducing the topic!
… but we were both impatiently
waiting for my baby sister to be born.
This line at the end of the first paragraph
introduced the topic of the personal narrative
story. Muy importante!!!!
In this story, the author grabs the reader’s
attention describing the action in the middle of
the story … and then in the 2nd paragraph the
author goes back to the beginning of the story …
and later writes the ending.
Draft your beginning
We arrived at the hospital around
two o’clock that morning and now it was five
a.m. We knew that everything was fine
because a nurse had come and told us so, but
we were still worried. It was strangely quiet in
hallways, which were decorated with paintings
of huge flowers in bright colors like incredibly
blue blues and extra-orange oranges.
I was glad that my grandmother had
worn her fuzzy sweater because it felt so nice
when I put my head down on her
shoulder. The only time we’d moved out
Draft your beginning
of our seats was when we’d gone to the
cafeteria to eat breakfast. Since they didn’t
have the kind of cereal I liked, I ordered a
grilled cheese sandwich.
Finally, after I’d looked at the newborn
infants for awhile, I returned to find my
grandmother speaking with a nurse. My baby
sister had just been born! Wow! I was
now a big brother and life was going to
be much, much different.
Rules for Writing
1. The best way to write better is to write
more!
2. The best way to write better is to write
more!
3. The best way to write better is to write
more!
4. The best way to write more is to write even
when you only have 5 minutes or whenever
you find a chair and a pen or paper or a
computer.
Rules for Writing
5. Read! Reading books shows you how to
write stories.
6. There’s nothing wrong with rereading a
book you love over and over. When you
do, the words get inside you, become a
part of you, in a way that only reading a
book once cannot.
7. Save everything you write, even if you
don’t like it, even if you hate it! The writing
is a piece of you that you can come back
to later in your life!
Writer’s Oath
I promise solemnly:
1. To write as often and as much as I can
2. To respect my writing self, and
3. To nurture the writing of others.
I accept these responsibilities and shall honor
them always.
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