1 class periods of 45 minutes each
Students will write a personal narrative about a time they
surprised themselves or someone else.
Teacher Materials: Selected books:
- Fortunately, Remy Charlip
- That's Good! That's Bad!, Margery Cuyler
- The Wednesday Surprise,* Donald Carrick
- First Day of School, Eve Bunting
- Miss Nelson is Missing, James Marshall
*Include a box with visuals to go with the story (e.g.,
party hat, presents, blindfold, costume, etc.).
- Graphic organizers or story map (e.g., beginning, middle, end)
- Writing paper
- Share and discuss items in the box.
- Read the selected story.
- Pre-write (plan). Model the use of the graphic organizer using the selected
- Have students turn to a partner and tell of a time they
surprised themselves or someone else. Encourage them to use lots of details.
- Write (compose). Have students create their own graphic organizer, starting
with a title that relates to the prompt (below). Use ideas from the graphic organizer to create a first draft.
- Have students self-assess their drafts using the modified Six Traits checklist.
- Have students share their stories with a partner or small group, or through the
- Tally all students' self-assessed scores on the rubric for each of the Six Traits
to ascertain the class's strengths and weaknesses.
Writing Prompt: Write about a time when you surprised yourself or someone else.
Discuss using enough details so that the reader can picture the person or the
thing that happened.
Exemplary Example (pdf)
IDEAS AND CONTENT:
- The paper contains relevant, telling, quality details. The topic is narrow and
manageable. Example: the writer followed the theme of camping with the scouts
and finding a skunk in their tent.
- The paper has an inviting introduction that ties in with a satisfying conclusion
about the story her brother told. The pacing is well controlled.
- The reader feels a strong connection to the writer. Example: "They told my
brother to look in their tent. So my brother did and he saw a skunk."
- The writer uses lively verbs, such as roasting, packed up, quietly tiptoed, etc.
- The writer incorporates varied sentence beginnings and sentence lengths.
- Spelling is generally correct. More attention needs to be paid to grammar and
usage. Example: run-on sentences - "in their tent and" ... "get sprayed they
Average Example (pdf)
IDEAS AND CONTENT:
- The paper is focused. The writer stays on the topic. The reader's questions are
anticipated and answered.
- The sequencing is logical, and the title is original.
- The narrative is personal. Example: "I went into the kitchen and told my dad that
Ben didn't have anything outside."
- Some word choices are too general (e.g., used, went, often).
- Many sentences begin the same way, but length as well as structure vary.
- Spelling and end punctuation are correct. The writer needs to allow more space