WWW, What=2, How=2 (Danoff et al., 1993) guides students in the process of telling a story by providing them with a mnemonic that aids recall of essential story elements. Students learn the mnemonic WWW, What=2, How=2, which stands for: • WHO is the main character? WHO else is in the story? • WHEN does the story take place? • WHERE does the story take place? • WHAT does the main character want to do? • WHAT happens when the main character tries to do it? • HOW does the story end? • HOW does the main character feel?
Determine the scope and potentially the topic of the narrative-writing assignment. Provide several models of short, well-structured stories, and a map of a general story structure. Create a graphic organizer with three sections, one each for “Who,” “When,” and “Where,” and two each for “What” and “How.”
- Teacher reviews the basic elements of a story, using several story models to illustrate the parts. Teacher introduces and explains the mnemonic WWW, What=2, How=2 as a story planning tool.
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.
- In pairs or individually, students brainstorm possible story ideas they would like to share with others. Students select the story that they will choose for this assignment.
Students may also keep a running list of story ideas in a writer’s journal, and simply refer to it to select one for this assignment. You can confer with students during this process to help them to identify interesting story ideas.
- Teacher distributes graphic organizer and directs students to “let your minds be free.” Students use the self-statement “let my mind be free.”
This step is intended to help students to relax and to allow easy retrieval and association of words and ideas. They may also benefit from deep breathing or a brief meditation activity.
- WHO: Students consider the characters in their stories, and record the names and descriptions of the main character and the secondary characters in the “Who” section of their graphic organizers.
- WHEN: Students consider when the story takes place and record their ideas in the “When” section of their graphic organizers.
Guide students to consider several aspects of the question “when?”: · In what year(s) (approximately or exactly) does the story take place? Present day, the past, or the future? · What time(s) of year? What time(s) of day? · How much time passes over the course of the story?
- WHERE: Students consider where the story takes place, and record their ideas in the “Where” section of their graphic organizers.
Students should consider questions such as: · Does this story take place in the real world or in an imagined reality? · What country/region/city/town does it take place in? · What type of landscape and climate does it take place in? · Does it take place indoors or outdoors? In what sort of space?
- WHAT: Students consider what the main character wants to do in the story, and record their responses in the first “What” section of their graphic organizers.
Some students struggle with this step. Be prepared to provide models of many familiar stories, and to help students to identify the goals, motivations, and intentions of the main character.
- WHAT: Students consider what happens when the main character tries to reach his/her goals. They record their ideas in the second “What” section of their graphic organizers.
Again, it is often helpful to provide students with story models at this point. They should understand that usually a good story is based around a character trying to achieve a goal, and encountering challenges as she or he does so.
- HOW: Students consider how the story ends, and write their ideas in the first “How” section of their graphic organizers.
Younger students in particular may need a reminder that it is not necessary for characters to reach their goals entirely or even in part. Not every story needs to have a happy ending.
- HOW: Students consider how the main character feels at the end of the story, and record their ideas in the second “How” section of their graphic organizers.
It may be helpful to provide students with a list of emotion adjectives to guide their description of the characters’ feelings.
- Using their graphic organizers as guides, students write their stories, being sure to include all the story elements and to monitor whether their stories make sense.
You can circulate and confer with students as they write, asking them what they notice and what their goals are, and then helping to push their thinking a little further.
- Students get into pairs, and each student reads his/her story aloud to a peer. Students determine whether each story makes sense, and whether it answers all the questions from the mnemonic WWW What=2 How=2. Students revise as needed.
During this stage you can circulate among the groups, listening to stories read aloud, and offer specific praise and concrete suggestions based on the goal of writing stories that make sense and that contain essential structural elements.
- 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?