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Personal Narrative Essay

Description 

The Personal Narrative Performance Task Guide supports teachers in guiding students through the creation and sharing of a narrative essay.

As children, we grow up with stories that capture our imagination, teach important life lessons, and provide a window into the experiences and perspectives of others. As adults, storytelling — and specifically, narrative writing — is a highly valuable skill with far-reaching applications. Many professionals choose narrative writing when trying to communicate important ideas to large audiences: a nonprofit leader uses stories of impact to engage supporters and generate resources; a lawyer uses narrative form in the closing argument to appeal to the emotions of the jury; a documentary filmmaker sways viewers to reconsider an opinion previously held on an important social or environmental issue. In the college admissions process, our students will be expected to make a compelling case for their acceptance, and the artful crafting of a personal narrative will be essential to their success.

 

Opportunities for Student Choice 

Student choice can be encouraged in a number of ways. Students can choose the event to retell and/or they can choose the occurrences within the event to include and emphasize or discard due to significance or lack thereof. They can also choose the resources they review and/or the audience for their writing.

Authentic Task 

Narrative writing is used in many professions besides that of a professional writer. Many professionals choose narrative writing when trying to communicate important ideas to large audiences. Health care professionals may use narrative writing to tell the story of those with a medical condition or disease as a way to encourage others to take precautionary steps; or the closing argument in a court of law may be in narrative form to appeal to the emotions of the jury. Historians also use narrative writing to retell accounts of the past. Persuasive writing often begins with anecdotes, as do political speeches. Almost any form of media contains narrative writing, including advertising, movies, television, drama, news broadcasting, and even music.

Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience 

There are many possible audiences for narrative papers. If students are writing autobiographical pieces, they may choose to use these as speeches at a school assembly or commencement ceremony. Students might choose to compile their works into a magazine to share and distribute with fellow students, or they might submit narrative writing to local newspapers or magazines for possible publication. Students can create their own class wiki, or put their papers together into a book on a self-publishing site like blurb.com. Students might also decide to read narrative pieces to, or provide a video of themselves reading to, students in younger grades to motivate other young writers.

Downloadable Resources 
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Explore the Genre of Narrative Writing_NE

In this activity, you will develop a clear enough understanding of the characteristics of this genre to be able to explain your understanding to others.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.5
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.L.5
  • CCRA.L.3

Time To Complete 

1-2 Hours

Personal Narrative Performance Tasks Rubric

What are the expectations for this performance task?

Each performance task has a single-point rubric, which lays out the expectations for college-and career-ready performance. This type of rubric allows teachers to provide specific, focused feedback without limiting students’ creativity or putting a ceiling on their...

Choose a Topic_NE

What makes for a strong narrative essay topic?
Students will choose a topic for their narrative essay and write a paragraph explaining why this is a significant story to tell.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

1-2 Hours

Determine Your Audience_NE

Who am I speaking to and what do I want to accomplish?
Determine who the audience of the essay is and what you want them to learn/understand about your topic. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.L.3

Time To Complete 

1 hour

Determine Your Purpose_NE

What do I want my writing to accomplish?
Determine what you want to get your audience to know or do based on reading your essay.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.L.3
  • CCRA.SL.4

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Recall the Event_NE

What are the significant moments of the event you are writing about?
Students will brainstorm and capture in an outline or other format (e.g., a story map) the significant events about their chosen event.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.5
  • CCRA.R.6

Time To Complete 

1-3 hours

Add Detail_NE

What are the important and vivid details of the event you are writing about?
Students will brainstorm and capture vivid details about their chosen event.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.5
  • CCRA.R.6

Time To Complete 

1-3 Hours

Draft the Essay_NE

How can you figure out what you want to say, and how to say it in the most compelling and convincing way possible?
Create a draft narrative essay.  Then, revise and edit your draft.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.1
  • CCRA.L.2
  • CCRA.L.3
  • CCRA.L.5
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.5
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.W.3
  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

3-5 hours

Give and Receive Feedback_NE

How do authors collaborate to improve their writing?
Students will give and receive feedback that is focused and constructive, and will help the author improve their draft.

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.L.1
  • CCRA.L.3

Time To Complete 

1-2 Hours

Revise_NE

How can you improve your draft?
Students will use feedback from a peer and/or teacher to strengthen their draft by ensuring facts and details are relevant, organization is clear and strong, and use of voice is strong and appropriate to the audience. 

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

3-5 hours

Edit_NE

How can you improve your draft?
You will use feedback from a peer and/or teacher to strengthen your essay, with a focus on grammar and professional language. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

2 hours