Two of the best pre-writing strategies for students are story maps andstorytelling! These help students with planning, sequencing, and visualizing writing. Once students have completed story maps, they are ready to begin storytelling. For narrative writing, a simple, "I remember when..." can get the story rolling. For expository writing, try "Did you know...?" These techniques encourage struggling writers to think through their stories before putting pencil to paper. Story maps and storytelling can alleviate writing fears and make the pre-writing process easier.
One of the first steps is to ask students to complete story maps then narrow their topics. If the prompt is: Write about an important event in your life, begin with asking students to look at their maps and brainstorm 3-5 events from their lives that stand out to them.
- My grandpa taught me to fish
- My first day of school
- Learning to ride a motorcycle
- My trip to Washington, D.C.
- When my brother was born
Ask students to list beside each event the reason why it is important:
- My grandpa taught me to fish--learned to love fishing
- My first day of school--met lifelong friends
- Learning to ride a motorcycle--become independent
- My trip to Washington, D.C.--saw the country's history
- When my brother was born--no longer an only child
Now, narrow down the topics to write about to one: My trip to Washington, D.C. This is a very broad topic, so continue to narrow the subject matter:
My trip to Washington, D.C.: Mount Vernon, Washington Monument, Vietnam Wall, Lincoln Memorial
Choose one of these to write about: Mount Vernon
Why is it important? I learned about everyday life in the 1700s.
Brainstorm again by writing down everything you know about your topic: Mount Vernon: home of first U.S. president, working plantation, on the Potomac River, high on a hill, grain barn...
Finally, turn to a peer or small group and show where the story is/would exist on your story map. Now, tell the story of your trip to Mount Vernon. Ask for feedback from peers: which parts of the story need more, or less, details; are there parts that need clarification; are their parts of the story that do not need to be included?
Now, you are ready to begin writing your rough draft!
Making a story map, choosing a topic, verbalizing a story, and getting peer feedback can make the writing process simpler and less intimidating to students. Before your students begin writing, take time to complete story maps and gather thoughts and ideas.
This process will alleviate your students' writing fears!
Right click to download FREE story maps:
Need more help with storytelling to writing? Try A Common Core Approach to Narrative Writing: From Storytelling to Writing