Teaching Narrative and Point of View in an 8th Grade English Language Arts class for Academically and Intellectually Gifted Students.

 

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The Context for My Lesson

In preparing this lesson on writing narratives and point of view, the students will be in their first month of School, and will have just finished a work of fiction of their choosing to elaborate on throughout the school year. While the students will be reading other works both fictional and non-fictional during they year, at this time the class will be focused on works that they are familiar with and comfortable reading.  A list would have been provided during the first week of class from which to select a work from.  After this lesson is presented, students would be asked to work in groups for the remainder of class and discuss some popular characters and determine the point of view that they use. At this time their year long project will be introduced, and their first experience in delving into writing their story will begin.

The Standard this Lesson Meets

This lesson meets the writing standard W 3.a in the Standards for English Language Arts 6-12, which states ” Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences”, with further explanation in subheading a “engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically” (Standards for English Language Arts 6-12, 42).  The lesson described challenges the students to integrate themselves with an existing character that they are familiar with, and write their continuing story, introducing the character they are, and writing from the appropriate point of view.  The lesson would be essential in helping the students to engage in reading and extrapolating information from both the works, as well as applying critical thinking skills to real life situations they may have their characters encounter.

The Media or Technology I am Integrating

https://storybird.com/classes/8th-grade-ela-aig/assignments/point-of-view-challenge/

For this lesson, I am using the Storybird.com website to start the students on their writing challenge for the year, as well as a place for them to submit all their writing work to me without others being able to read it.  Storybird is a wonderful site that allows students to work on various writing projects throughout the year that can be customized by the teacher, which also allows them to choose their own visual media to enhance their stories, or the teacher may choose visual media for them to use as their prompt for writing.  The students, after class, would be able to go to Storybird.com, find their challenge, and begin writing based on their prompt, which in this case is Point of View.  It follows the classroom instruction for the day, but also provides a video that they can start and stop to better understand point of view and orientation as it applies to their writing, as well as readings they may do throughout the year.

The Rationale for Integrating the Media or Technology into this Lesson

Media and Technology are the language many of our students speak, and it is important to engage and invest them in the lesson itself.  It has been noted that “middle school is an important time in which to deeply engage young people in beginning to draft a narrative that outlines a plan for using personal agency to successfully become college and career ready” (Lapan, Marcotte, Storey, et. al, 127).  In order to engage our students we have to meet them where they are, and work within their time schedules.  The use of Storybird allows teachers to customize videos, storyboards, and challenges to each individual class they teach, as well as give the students control over their own stories, while helping them to invest in themselves and see a plan for the future.

Storybird allows students to play and experiment with their creativity without using class time to perfect it.  Over the last 20 years, “creativity scores in children have declined, especially with children in kindergarten through sixth grade” ( Batchelor & Blintz, 2013).  With the ability to work and review in their private time through the website, which reinforces the classroom instruction, it allows students to stretch their creativity wings and it applies to all students, not just those with higher IQ scores (Batchelor & Blintz, 2013).

The Integration of the Media or Technology into the Lesson

In terms of lesson planning, the class would begin with each child giving a brief summary of their book to the class, informally.  Then I would ask them to diagram their stories in their notes section on google docs, and submit to me for review.  After this section, review of the various parts of the story would take place, with the introduction of point of view and orientation.  Ideally this would be a flipped classroom, where the students would use the Storyboard.com link to watch the additional instructional video, and begin their own writing based on the challenge.  Prior to dismissal from the class for that day, flip cards would be drawn by each student, and working in a group, would have to talk in whichever point of view they drew.  This is to help them think in different points of view, and to illustrate to their groups how very different scenarios can be when orientation and point of view are taken into account.

My Evaluation of the Media or Technology Integration

Technology has replaced text books in our school district, so it is imperative that almost all assignments and learnings have a technology component to it.  With this said, this also allows for greater flexibility in the learning environment, allowing students to follow, rewind, and review at their own pace, and to research more extensively if needed the information being presented.  It assists students at all levels with learning the standard, while allowing those who are more academically gifted to think more critically about the information given, and how this affects what the public sees and hears on a daily basis.  The major disclaimer is for those students who do not have access to the site at home, whether it is Google, Songbird, TED-ED or another site.  Most of these sites are accessible through a smart phone, which can pick up wifi signals around public places such as libraries, fast food restaurants, or coffee shops.  By immersing the students in their own stories, as it were, and asking them to demonstrate the various aspects of writing narratives, including point of view, orientation, and plot, it is easier for them to relax into their own writing, making it effortless, instead of painful, and planting a seed that will help them moving forward.

 

References

Batchelor, K. E., & Blintz, W. P. (2013, September). Promoting Creativity in the Middle        Grades Language Arts Classroom. Middle School Journal, 3-11. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
Betta, C. (2008). Heroes [Photograph]. Photosforclass.com, Flickr.
Lapan, R. T., Marcotte, A. M., Storey, R., Carbone, P., Loehr-Lapan, S., Guerin, D., . . .    Mahoney, S. (2016, June). Infusing Career Development to Strengthen Middle School  English Language Arts Criteria. The Career Development Quarterly, 64, 126-139.  doi:10.1002/cdq.12046

 

 

 

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