This post is part 3 in a three part series on re-thinking how I teach personal narratives. Part 1 about a new way that I tried to generate small moment ideas worth writing (ie. the “plan”), and Part 2 about stretching small moment stories with details (ie. the “do”) are linked at the bottom of this post. The focus of this post is on the “review” part of the writing cycle – specifically the strategies I use to help students revise and edit their writing.

The Big Idea

We decided to focus our review and editing on the grade 2 common core standards. This helped give a lens to our review process. We started with a lesson on sequencing our writing and using transition words (or phrases) to make our writing flow framed around standard W.2.3.

Next we explicitly taught regular and irregular past tense verbs since these are used frequently in personal narrative writing (and an important grade 2 language standard, L.2.1.D)

After that we borrowed a craft move from Dan Fiegelson and taught a mini-lesson on punctuation – but focused more on noticing punctuation in our mentor authors and paying attention to what it makes our voice do. As students notice the role of punctuation marks in alternating a readers voice, they are more inclined to actually add purposeful punctuation marks to their own writing instead of the usual ‘period at the end of a sentence’ without truly understanding why.

Finally we moved on to editing our spelling using the “Don’t and Do’s” Spelling Flowchart. Again, this is another very intentional way of asking students to take charge of their writing by noticing words they think might not be spelled correctly and trying strategies to fix those words independently. If you are interested to learn more, here is a full post detailing the process.

Next Steps …

What I really appreciate about the way we taught the “review” portion of the writing cycle this year is that it provides concrete direction on how to review & edit based on specific skills or concepts that are taught, practiced, and applied – as opposed to a more general “check your writing” which is too vague most grade 2 students to act on with purpose. In terms of independence, since students cycle through the writing process at different rates, I started using editing and revising task cards to hold students accountable for their own “review.” I usually introduce these cards as they are diving into their second piece of writing. Read the full post on that here. Now that we have put together all the pieces of the puzzle in terms of our writing cycle it is just a question of write & repeat (with other mini-lessons interspersed along the way to push our writers even further). Happy writing!

Re-Thinking Personal Narratives

In grade 2 the start of a new school year eventually leads to writing personal narratives. Even this year! Amid all the other changes happening in and around school due to Covid-19. Reflecting on how I taught this unit in… Continue Reading →