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Narrative Text Structure


All readers are better able to understand texts that are familiar to them, both in form and in content. However, many students struggle to identify the various structures that text can take, and they are unable to use a familiar form to provide context for learning. Narrative structure has unique features and conventions, and students can learn these in order to strategically direct their own learning of stories and novels. Narratives are typically composed of: • a main character who has intentions and motivations • a setting in time and place • a major goal that the character attempts to achieve • a plot describing how the character attempts to overcome obstacles to the goal • an outcome in which the character does or does not reach the goal • a moral and/or theme

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Metacognition
  • Visualizing
Analyzing Literary Elements, Text-Self / Text-Text / Text-World Connections

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Metacognition


Identify the target narrative . Create a worksheet or graphic organizer that includes places for students to write the following information : Story name Name of main character(s) Character clues The problem or conflict How the characters try to solve the problem Whether/how the problem is solved Conclusion: How does the story end? Are there added twists or complications? Theme: What is the big idea or message? Important events to remember

Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher introduces or reviews the concept of a narrative.

    Generally, a narrative is a story about a character or characters that is told through relating a series of events. Help students to contrast this structure with expository writing, the other big category of text.

  2. Teacher introduces or reviews the elements of story grammar included in worksheet or graphic organizer.

    Most students will benefit from learning the different elements of story grammar incrementally. You may want to create a series of graphic organizers or worksheets, adding elements as students understand them. You may consider modeling completing a story grammar sheet for a familiar story and keeping this model available to students during the activity.

  3. Students read text.

    Students can read the text either in class or ahead of time. The length and difficulty of the text should correspond with the skill level of the students. If this is the first time students are completing this activity, you may want to pick a text several grade levels below their reading level to allow students to focus on the story grammar rather than struggle with comprehension.

  4. Individually or in small groups, students complete the story grammar sheet.

    Circulate as students are working and help them to identify strategies they can use to clarify points of confusion.

  5. Students work with a partner and look over each other’s story grammar sheets. Students discuss similarities and differences, and areas of improvement for each.

    It may help to give students reflective questions to support their examination of each other’s work such as: · What was the same about your grammar sheets? · What was different? · Based on your partner’s sheet, is there anything you would change or add? · What details may need to be added in order to ensure you have fully captured the important aspects of the story? Students can also share with the larger group at this point, or story grammar sheets can be displayed and students can do a gallery walk.

  6. In pairs or individually, students reflect on their learning process either in conversation or in writing. Students answer questions including: · How is narrative writing different from expository writing? · How does identifying story grammar contribute

    Students may complete this step in a journal, in a class discussion, or on an exit ticket.

Adaptation for the Math Classroom 

There are a variety of math topics that connect to news stories, including graphs, large numbers, rates of change, proportions, averages, rational numbers, and probability. In every case, having students find and discuss these connections reinforces the importance of the ideas and provides more opportunities for students to make meaning of the concepts.

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