Using Story Arc to Explore Author’s Craft and Characters #SOL17
March 10, 2017
I have been taking a serendipitous journey with a fourth grade class. After reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing together for a weeks and then realizing that no one in the class understood theme, we regrouped… by taking a week off for February vacation. When we returned from February vacation, the magic began to happen. We did a few days on finding theme in picture books. See The Space Between for more about this beginning.
Then, we spent a few days writing a filler chapter for Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. ( See Units of Study For Teaching Reading, Fourth Grade Unit 1, Interpreting Character: The Heart of the Story.) The first day, their teacher read a chapter from the next book in the series, Super Fudge. I think we both thought the students might write from between Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Super Fudge. Not one did that. After the first day we noticed that the students writing lacked the classic elements of narrative and the central elements of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, so we decided to review narrative structure in light of Chapter 3, The Family Dog. After reading chapter 3, their teacher reviewed the story arc and conducted a discussion of the elements in this chapter. For your benefit, the story arc in this chapter includes: review as hook, micro-story to set up solution, problem, several attempts, climax, falling action, and solution.
Since it wasn’t my idea, I can say that it really was genius. She continued the great ideas by using her iPads to let students view the arc representation while they completed a revision of their chapter with the same style.
In the end, her class had a wonderful understanding of theme in novel, a terrific review of the story arc using a novel example, and two days of quick narrative writing.
These ideas could be adapted to any novel study at the intermediate grades.
Thanks to Melissa Quimby, Grade 4 for this collaboration.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.