This activity helps students to organize the process of planning and writing a narrative. The mnemonic SPACE (Harris & Graham, 1992) is an acronym that stands for: S: Setting P: Purpose A: Action C: Conclusion E: Emotions Through the use of this mnemonic, students can gain confidence and success at composing narrative pieces.
- Determine the scope and potentially the topic of the writing assignment. This activity is designed for narrative pieces, in which students are telling stories.
- Consider providing several models of short, well-structured narrative texts.
- Create a graphic organizer with five sections, one each for “Setting,” “Purpose,” “Action,” “Conclusion,” and “Emotions.”
- Teacher reviews the basic elements of a narrative text, using several models to illustrate structure. Teacher introduces and explains the mnemonic SPACE. Teacher introduces general scope of writing assignment.
Initially students will need a lot of direct instruction and modeling in using this mnemonic, but after several uses they should require only a brief reminder. Students can develop their own topics, or they can respond to a prompt or a question that you provide.
- Students get into pairs and discuss the questions: · Who will read this? · Why am I writing this?
This step is designed to help students to focus and refine their purpose in writing, and to plan their writing to adapt to their target audience. A mini-lesson, discussion, and examples showing how authors adjust their writing based on audience and purpose may be necessary if students are not familiar with this concept.
- Teacher distributes graphic organizers and reviews their use and their sections.
With enough practice students won’t need much review.
- S: Students think about the setting of their stories (both time and place), and describe it in their graphic organizers.
Many students think of setting as restricted to place, so help them to consider when and over how long the story takes place as well.
- P: Students consider the purpose or meaning of the story, and record their ideas in their graphic organizers.
As you circulate and confer with students, you can cue them with questions such as: · Why is this story worth telling? · Why would someone want to hear this story? · How did you choose this story to tell? · What do you want people to understand from this story?
- A: Students consider the action of the story, and note the basic plot points in their graphic organizers.
Help students to remember that a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- C: Students consider how their stories will end, and describe the conclusions in their graphic organizers.
You can guide students to think about the characters’ goals in the stories, and to think about whether or not these goals were achieved.
- E: Students think about the emotions that the characters in the story feel, and record their ideas in their graphic organizers.
Ask students to think about what the main characters will feel at each main part of the story: at the beginning, middle, and end. Consider providing a list of emotion words to help them.
- Using their completed graphic organizers as guides, students write their compositions. They use the self-statement “say more” periodically.
Many students tend to be overly brief in their writing, so the cue “say more” is intended to remind them to be thorough and complete in their writing.
- Students get back into pairs and read their compositions to a partner. Students offer feedback on how well basic story elements were conveyed.
This is a great time to confer with pairs of students, to listen to their pieces, and to help them to develop well-structured stories. It may be helpful to model or provide a checklist, rubric, or sentence starters to support students in giving concrete and helpful feedback.
- Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.
Students respond to questions including: · How did this activity affect your ability to plan your story? · How did this activity affect your ability to carry out your writing? · How might you use this strategy in your independent writing?