Lesson plan

What Happens Next?

Featuring Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch, this creative writing lesson gives students the chance to turn themselves into the main characters of emotion-packed short stories.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
  • Students will be able to incorporate emotional dialogue into their writing.
  • Students will be able to write narratives in which they recount two or more sequenced events, include some details, use temporal words, and provide a sense of closure.
(15 minutes)
  • Talk to the class about what emotion is and how we can incorporate it into our writing.
  • Ask students to think about stories they've read. Ask students to share some emotions they've seen while reading.
  • Read Stephanie's PonytailAloud. As you read, have students predict upcoming Events.
  • Remind students that to PredictIs to make a guess about something that will happen in the future.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the class if they noticed any emotions from Stephanie's PonytailThat could be incorporated into their own stories.
  • Explain that in stories, EmotionIs often expressed through dialogue. Dialogue is the conversation that characters in the story have. Refer back to how Stephanie spoke when she was proud or angry.
  • Give a few minutes for volunteers to share what they noticed.
  • Chart their ideas on the whiteboard.
(10 minutes)
  • Give students pencils and lined paper.
  • Tell the class that they'll be writing stories that include lots of emotion.
  • Model the storytelling process by recounting two or more sequenced events in your average day, emphasizing how you feel during certain events (e.g. feeling tired in the morning when you wake up, being excited about lunch, feeling happy to go home and see your pet dog).
  • Write your narrative on the whiteboard so students can use it for support as they create their own. Incorporate temporal words in your writing to signal the event order and circle them (e.g. at first, before, finally, then, etc.) Create a word bank of temporal words for students to use in their writing.
  • Reiterate the importance of including DetailsWhen writing. Underline the details using a red whiteboard marker.
  • Model how to create a strong ClosingFor the narrative.
  • Ask a student volunteer to read the finished narrative aloud.
(20 minutes)
  • Instruct each student to write a short narrative detailing the things they do during the day and the emotions they feel when those events happen.
  • Create a checklist on the whiteboard for students to refer to as they create their narratives.
    • Use two or more events
    • Add details and emotions
    • Use temporal words
    • Provide a closing sentence
  • Ask students to read through their stories and fix any mistakes. Then, have each student exchange his story with a partner.
  • Distribute sticky notes to students, and have them use the notes to jot down any mistakes they see in their partners' stories.
  • Ask students to stick their notes onto their partners' papers before returning them.
  • Allow students a few minutes to revise their stories.
  • Enrichment:Students who complete their writing assignment early can be asked to draw corresponding illustrations for the main events in their stories.
  • Support:Struggling students can be asked to draw illustrations showing their daily emotions instead of writing them out.
(5 minutes)
  • Observe the class as they work, and keep an eye out for students who seem to be struggling.
  • Collect students' stories at the end of the exercise. Go over them later to gauge student understanding of the lesson content.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask for a few student volunteers to read their stories aloud. Use a document camera to display the stories and ask students to come up to find the Details, Temporal words, and Emotions.
  • Close the lesson by asking students to choral share one new thing they learned from the lesson.

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