How to Teach Personal Narrative Writing for Third Grade

Guiding a student writer ensures that he understands the process.
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Writing a personal narrative is challenging for a third-grader, but modeling a good piece of writing and breaking the work into manageable chunks can help any child write with confidence and success. Use a shared experience, such as a field trip or family vacation, to teach the components of a story about an event that happened to the writer. After writing together, guide the student as he writes his own story. The Common Core State Standards for third grade narratives include organizing writing with transition words, a catchy beginning and a developed conclusion. They also require the right amount of details and the use of dialogue.

1 Planning the Narrative

Use a graphic organizer with four boxes to help a third-grader organize his writing. The boxes should contain the words "first," "next," "then" and "finally." Together, brainstorm ideas to put in each box. Use words and phrases rather than complete sentences. A key skill to focus on at this stage is how to have the right amount of details: Include enough details that the reader can paint a picture in her head but not so many that the story drags on. After you have filled out an organizer together, give the student a copy to fill out on his own about a topic of his choosing.

2 Drafting the Narrative

Drafting is taking the ideas from the graphic organizer and writing them down in story form. Ask for student input as you take the ideas and write them in organized sentences. Two important third grade skills to teach at this stage are the use of dialogue and transition words. Model writing dialogue sentences with the correct use of quotation marks and punctuation. Show the student how transition words, such as "during," "later" and "meanwhile," help keep his writing organized. Now, have the student use his personal graphic organizer to write his own draft.

3 Revising the Narrative

When revising, the writer looks at the completed draft and then edits the story for content. Look over the story that you have written together and make it better. Make sure it has a catchy beginning and interesting word choices. Ask the student to help you come up with a more interesting beginning by include a quote, a sound effect or a question. Next, model exchanging dull words for more vivid ones. For example, consider "yelled" instead of "said" or "clomped" instead of "walked." Make sure the story has a good conclusion or wrap-up sentence. Guide the student to do the same process with his own draft.

4 Editing and Publishing the Narrative

Review the writing for grammar and spelling errors. Third grade writing should include proper paragraphing, capitalization and correct spelling of grade level words. Model checking a class dictionary for frequently used words as well as learning how to break words into small parts to spell them out phonetically. At this point, it is helpful to go over the student's personal draft to correct any mistakes he has made. Finally, the draft is ready to publish. Have the student make a new copy of the story that includes all of the corrections.

Tabitha Burgtorf began her career in the education field in 1999. Her experience includes elementary and middle school teaching, curriculum writing and writing education-related articles. Burgtorf holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from George Fox University and is certified to teach in Colorado.