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Get the whole story on teaching narrative writing
"Narrative can foster a new understanding of self and others, and help people solve real problems together. In short narrative empowers people. This makes it vitally important to helping students become 'college and career ready.'" James Fredricksen, Michael Smith, and Jeffrey Wilhelm
While Common Core standards on argument and nonfiction have gotten the lion's share of attention, the anchor standard for narrative writing has been overlooked. Not anymore, thanks to So, What's the Story?
"Write narratives," states the Common Core, "to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences." In So, What's the Story? James Fredricksen, Michael Smith, and Jeffrey Wilhelm share lessons and unit frameworks on narrative writing that help students not only meet the standards, but do important real-world work. "Narrative is about much more than the form of a story, identifying a protagonist, or naming its climax," they write, "it's about doing functional work not only in the classroom and school, but in the community and the world."
With ideas for teaching autobiography, narrative nonfiction, imaginary narratives, and narratives that employ both words and images, So, What's the Story? provides practitioners with ways to help students make the leap from composing stories to understanding how stories and narrative concepts can help them to identify, critique, and change how their world works.
"Narrative writing empowers individuals as they negotiate the day-to-day experience of their lives," write Fredricksen, Smith, and Wilhelm, "but an understanding of narrative is essential for people in a whole host of careers and professions." Use So, What's the Story? and ensure that the story of your writers doesn't end with meeting the standard, but with a lifetime of problem solving with story.
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Jim Fredricksen is coauthor with Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith of Get It Done!; Oh, Yeah?!; and So, What's the Story?. He has spent his career listening to and learning from his students about the choices they make - as young people, as athletes, as members of their communities, and especially as readers and as writers. This began in Fairfield, Ohio, and then in his hometown of St. Charles, Illinois where he taught middle school students and coached both middle and high school student athletes. More recently, he has worked with pre-service and in-service teachers in making their pedagogical decisions visible to themselves and to others - first at Michigan State University and currently at Boise State University, the Boise State Writing Project, and the National Writing Project. Jim's interest in helping people pursue their own interests - and in listening to the choices people make in pursuing those interests - reflect Jim's belief in the power of curiosity and creativity, in the pleasure that can be found in uncertainty, and the hope that comes from learning with others.
Jeffrey Wilhelm is coauthor with Michael Smith and James Fredricksen of Get It Done!; Oh, Yeah?!; and So, What's the Story?. Jeff has cowritten or coedited four other Heinemann books, Going with the Flow, "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys", Strategic Reading, and Imagining to Learn. For Chevys he and coauthor Jeff Wilhelm received the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. Jeff is an internationally-known teacher, author, and presenter. He is driven by a desire to help teachers to help their students to more powerful literacy and compassionate, democratic living. What he most wants for teachers to get out of his work is motivation, a vital passion and impulse to continue experimenting and learning about teaching, as well as ways to frame instruction so it is meaningful and compelling to students. A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Jeff is currently Professor of English Education at Boise State University. He works in local schools as part of a Virtual Professional Development Site Network sponsored by the Boise State Writing Project, and regularly teaches middle and high school students. He is the founding director of the Maine Writing Project and the Boise State Writing Project. He has authored or coauthored numerous books and articles about literacy teaching and learning. In addition to the Russell award, his "You Gotta BE the Book" won the NCTE Promising Research Award. Jeff has worked on numerous materials and software programs for students including Scholastic's e21 and ReadAbout, and has edited a series of 100 books for reluctant readers entitled The Ten. Jeff enjoys speaking, presenting, working with students and schools. He is currently researching how students read and engage with non-traditional texts like video game narratives, manga, horror, fantasy, etc. as well as the effects of inquiry teaching on teachers, students, and learning. Jeff grew up on a small strawberry farm in Northeastern Ohio. He loved the Hardy Boys as a boy, and has continued to love reading ever since, progressing through Hermann Hesse, John Steinbeck, and James Baldwin as literary mentors. In high school he was named a Harrier All-American for cross-country and track. He was then a two-time Small College All-American in Cross-country. He has competed Internationally in cross country, track, and nordic skiing. He now enjoys marathon nordic skiing and whitewater kayaking.
Michael Smith is coauthor with Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith of Get It Done!; Oh, Yeah?!; and So, What's the Story?. Michael, a professor in Temple University's College of Education, joined the ranks of college teachers after 11 years of teaching high school English. He has won awards for his teaching at both the high school and college levels. His research focuses on understanding how experienced readers read and talk about texts as well as what motivates adolescents' reading and writing out of school. He uses that understanding to think about how to devise more effective and engaging reading and writing instruction for adolescents in school. Michael has cowritten or coedited three other Heinemann books, Going with the Flow; Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning; and "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys". For Chevys he and coauthor Jeff Wilhelm received the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. When he's not working, Michael's likely to be watching or talking about sports, reading, or playing with his granddaughter.
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