Next month's unit of study for many first, second and third graders is Realistic Fiction. This is a unit that most students will love. Children love to tell stories---both small moment or imaginary. I remember having a second grader come to school every day and tell me stories of how he had traveled over the weekend to California and saw a football game. Now, this could be true...but it wasn't. He had a great imagination and was a wonderful story teller. This would be a perfect genre for him!
Students will use everything they have learned about narrative writing as they write this fiction. Having a plan for the stories is important. Younger students will tell their stories using their fingers for parts or will use telling the story as they move through the pages of a four to six page blank book. Older students can use a flow chart or story board to plan their book. Using mentor texts and boxing out the parts of the story will help students see the big picture of how fiction works. Donald Crews and Ezra Jack Keats are great authors for mentor texts to use with boxing out the story.
Children will be writing stories about characters their age with a problem. It might be beneficial for the class to create a list of possible problems. This would help them have some starting ideas. The rest of this paper will include possible solutions and end with an eventual solution.
As the students begin this unit, they can begin by collecting beginning ideas. They will start by writing the start of a story and then move on to another with a new character and problem. These collections could be kept in a special Realistic Fiction folder. Students will pick one to focus on after a couple days of collecting. The idea is to have your writing time look like a real workshop with students being at various points in the writing process.
One way to insure success for the children is to model this process in a class shared writing. Developing a character, choosing a problem and listing possible solutions shows the class how to do this in their own writing.
Using the enthusiasm for this genre will give you a great start. Constantly using the mentor texts as support will help children visualize how the piece will look. Remembering the goal of writing being sequenced and having detailed narratives is part of the Common Core State Standards.