• Take out a pencil or pen (dark blue or black ink only)
• Respond to the following: Think about an embarrassing
experience for you. What happened? Why were you
embarrassed? How could this experience turn from a negative
to a positive?
Narrative Writing Unit
Write narratives to develop real or imagined
experiences or events using effective
technique, well-chosen details, and wellstructured event sequences.
Narrative Directions
Using Tan’s essay as a model, write a brief
narrative that describes a memorable childhood experience that taught you an
important lesson.
Getting ready to read
Introducing key concepts
Surveying the text
Making predictions and asking questions
Introducing key vocabulary
Getting Ready to Read
– Have you ever tried to hide your home language, religion or any other
aspect of your family’s culture from your friends or classmates? If so,
why? Describe the experience, how it felt, and what, if anything, about
the situation you would change if you could.
– Think of an occasion when, for whatever reason, you felt like you
didn’t fit in. How did you react? Did you try to hide your difference in
order to fit in, or did you reveal or celebrate your uniqueness?
Getting Ready to Read Background Information
• Christmas is not celebrated by all cultures, nor do all cultures
eat the sorts of traditional foods that Americans tend to eat
for their celebrations.
Key Concepts
1st person point of view
Sensory detail
Surveying the Text
• Annotate features of the narrative essay
– Title
– Author
– Key vocabulary
• Begin responding to the following prompt:
• Think about how you have many identities: What are some
different “sides” you have? (e.g. your school side, your home
side, your soccer side, your ethnicity, your American side,
your church side, etc.) What is each one like? Have you ever
been more than one at once? Describe that.
Making Predictions and Asking
What are some of the things that good readers do before
they read?
Who do you think the intended audience for this piece
would be?
Read the first two paragraphs of “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan.
Predict – What will this be about?
Key Vocabulary
Appalling –
causing dismay or
Belch - burp
Astonished – sudden
Clamor – loud and
continued noise
Cod – type of fish
Grimace – a facial
expression that
indicates disapproval
Mounds – a heap
Manger – a box
from which cattle eat
Murmur – a low
continuous sound
Prawns - shrimp
Muster – to gather or
Reddened – to
become red
Rumpled – to crush into wrinkles
Tweed - a
course wool
Shabby – showing obvious signs of
wear or neglect
First reading (comprehension)
Second reading (annotate)
Third reading (purpose)
Fourth reading (Looking closely at language)
First Reading (Comprehension )
• Read the narrative to yourself. If you did stop, note
where you lost focus. List the sequence of events in
the plot.
Thinking Skill: Sequencing
1st thing
4th thing
2nd thing
5th thing
3rd thing
6th thing
Second Reading (annotate)
• Annotating a Text - Read With a Pen
Highlight main ideas
C Circle powerful words or phrases
Underline words or phrases you do not understand
Raises a question
Surprises you
Make a connection
Write important thoughts in the margins
Third Reading (Purpose)
• Check your predictions. Did you accurately
predict what the story is about?
• What message is the author, Amy Tan, trying
to give her readers?
– The message, or lesson, the author is trying to
give her readers is
Create a list of times when you learned a lesson of
some kind. You may end up using one of these for
your narrative! Here is my sample:
1. Junk food
2. Don’t tell Kristen anything important
3. Be careful about who I lend items to
4. My brother - be careful about lending people money
Fourth Reading – “Fish Cheeks” Language
Text Based Questions
1. What do we learn about Amy after the first
2. What does “pray[ing] for a slim new American
nose” reveal about Amy?
3. What type of conflict does Amy experience in
paragraph 2?
4. What types of diction or word choice help to convey
Amy’s thoughts about the Christmas Eve dinner?
(paragraph 3)
5. Cite textual evidence that support Amy’s
desire to disappear (paragraph 5)
6. What does the beige miniskirt symbolize?
(paragraph 7)
7. What does “your only shame is to have
shame” mean? (paragraph 7)
8. What is the central idea or theme of the
It’s your turn! Prewriting
1. What hobbies/ interests/ sports did you have as a child?
2. Have you taken a memorable vacation as a child? If so, where?
3. Is there a memorable family experience that defines you?
4. Is there a memorable school experience that defines you?
5. What event has changed your life the most? For better or worse?
6. Have you ever had to overcome some great challenge or conflict? How did you do
it? What were the effects?
7. Has a member of your family ever come or gone from your life? A new sibling, the
death of a grandparent or parent?
8. Have you ever voluntarily taken charge of a situation? How did it make you feel
9. What are your major accomplishments and why do you consider them
accomplishments? You do not need to write about something that you have
been formally recognized for.
Organizational Strategy
1. Establish Setting (time-frame,
age, season, year, place)
2. Introduce a character(s)
3. Establish Conflict
- person vs. person
- person vs. self
- person vs. nature
- person vs. society
Organizational Strategy
1. Establish your sequence with the
second, third, and fourth event
and introduce more characters.
2. Use sensory details
(Think about the food in “Fish Cheeks”)
3. Use dialogue
4. Use monologue (thoughts)
Organizational Strategy
-Discuss significance of final event
-Include your thoughts
-Emphasize what you learned
- How are you different today because of
this experience?