Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Many Memorable Firsts

This past week, we started a new personal narrative writing unit all about my many memorable firsts.

I began this unit with a hook to engage student interest--we talked about roller coasters. Who doesn't have a love-hate relationship with a good ol' roller coaster? Especially in a room of second graders, the feelings are unanimous. "Roller coasters are SO MUCH FUN!" We talked about what it was like to go on a roller coaster for the very first time--how that wait in line feels like forever; how when you get into the cart and put on the seatbelt, your heart starts to race; how as the coaster slowly goes clickit-clackity up the tracks, you are thinking "We are going up so high!" and your heart is beating out of your chest; how at the very top it feels like the world stops for just a moment, and then woosh!; how you scream at the top of your lungs as you zoom down the track and loop upside down. I shared my personal story of the first time I went on the roller coaster The Mantis at Cedar Point, and my students were all in. They couldn't wait to start brainstorming!

I modeled how to come up with some ideas to get my students on the right track (no pun intended), and put some common experiences down, like the first time I lost a tooth or the first time I rode a bike, to prevent students from getting "stuck" in a writer's block. Students had to come up with at least 3-5 ideas, but many of my students came up with many more. We did lots of sharing out, and then we each circled one idea on our web that we would write about.

The next day, it was time to start some serious planning. I created a pre-writing organizer that would not only engage key information like the "who," the "where," and the "when" but also would engage sensory details right from the get-go. 

We spent the most time on the "Things on the Outside" section as we went through the five senses. What did I see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? I chose to use the idea of the first time I swam underwater, so I wrote down things like I saw the blue water of the pool, I heard my mom cheering for me, I felt the blazing sun, I smelled chlorine and sunscreen, I tasted salty sweat on my lips as it dripped down my face.

Then, it was time for our sequencing organizer to get the meat of our story told using temporal words.

I can't wait until we are to the revising/editing portion and can dig into these checklists!

If you are interested in this "My Many Memorable Firsts" common core aligned personal narrative writing unit, I just uploaded it to TPT. Just click the picture below!

Also, get the "Peer Editing Checklist" as a FREEBIE! :) Click the picture below!

 photo Katie120_zps8b8e103b.jpg


  1. I just saw your personal narrative prewriting graphic organizer posted in someone's TpT store -- for sale! Wanted to let you know so that you can file a complaint with TpT. Here's the link:

  2. I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to let me know this!! I have filed a complaint with TPT. THANK YOU again!!!

  3. I am trying to locate where I can purchase the bundle that includes the "My Revising Checklist"/"My Editing Checklist" and the peer versions as well. Can you direct me to which bundle includes those on TPT? Thanks in advance. Renee

  4. "My Many Memorable Firsts" Common Core Personal Narrative Writing Unit by Katie Crystal on Teachers Pay Teachers

  5. I teach 1st graders, so I can't use the whole bundle. Is there a way I can purchase just the two graphic organizers?

  6. Is there any way to purchase just the 2 graphic organizers?I will not use the whole bundle in my lower grade. Thanks for your consideration.

  7. Is there any way you can show us what your students came up with when filling the graphic organizers? Perhaps, adding a sample of their writing would help.