This morning I gave a short presentation to the UCI Writing Project’s Summer Institute about narrative writing with English learners in high school. UCIWP director Carol Booth Olson, having solicited, then selected my lesson to include in an upcoming book about Common Core State Standards and English learners, asked me to share the lesson to this group. Since I learned so much as a Fellow in 2009, I was thrilled to give back.
Of the three types of writing defined in the CCSS (narrative, argumentative, informational), I consider narrative the most important (see previous post about storytelling). In essence I provided a set of pictures for students for which to write an accompanying narration. The power of this lesson is in the illustrations of Shaun Tan from his wordless graphic book, The Arrival. The story follows an immigrant leaving his family behind in his troubled homeland and establishing a new life in a foreign land, complete with struggles to learn the language, to find housing and a job, and to make friends before his family can join him. All students, particularly EL’s can relate to the “stranger in a strange land” journey.
In my lesson (contact me if you want more details) I go over the whole book with my class, focusing on key events and coming up with common terms such as the immigrant’s name, the name for the public transportation, and a label for his stray pet. I love that the UCIWP Fellows came up with “shark-cat.”
I can hardly wait to present this to a new crop of students next year!