There are actually a number of resources available online which discuss about how primary school students should go about writing their narrative composition. I agree with them wholeheartedly and have some points to add on or even to simplify.
I have been fortunate to have had the chance to teach students of all abilities in the upper primary levels i.e. average-ability pupils, weakest classes of the average-ability pupils, foundation classes, high-ability classes and also foreign pupils from Korea, China and Japan. I dare not say I am very experienced. There are so many incredible teachers whom I look up to and respect so much. I am just more fortunate to have had taught classes with such varied abilities. So I have my own insight on how my students can score well for writing.
Writing: The Basics
All teachers will tell our pupils to PLAN before writing anything. However, planning is something very elusive to the average child out there. Here is my take about 'planning' and the basics of writing a composition:
1) Setting (Planning)
- After examining the given information, start to picture the setting of your composition. Some guidebooks define setting as where the story begins or unfolds. I think this is very misleading and not helpful.
- I'd advise my students to think of where their story begins, then the place it proceeds to ..., then where it ends at...
An Unlucky Day
Home, in bed (late)--> stairs (missed a step) --> outside school gate (stepped into puddle) --> in the classroom (brought your sister's school bag) --> Home (dad bought least favourite food)
-Along with the various places, images of what might happen pops into your mind. This creates a structure or storyboard for your composition.
2) Brainstorm (Planning)
- Usually if my pupils are attempting a picture composition, I'd get them to brainstorm words / phrases related to the picture first. An even more organized approach might be to brainstorm in terms of verbs (action), adjectives (describing words)
- If it is for continuous writing, it would be a good idea to brainstorm after you have given some thought to the setting. Seriously, there are so many possible words and ideas, being able to focus your brainstorming will really make the activity so much more constructive
3) Plot & Development
- We can think of the plot as the highlight of the whole composition. (Planning)
- While developing (writing) your composition, always keep the plot that you have decided on while developing your story. Like many other teachers, I also use the 5W1H approach i.e. Who, Where, When, Why, What and How to help develop the story. (Since one can easily find resources on the use of this approach online & in guidebooks, I will not discuss the details here)
- Remember to use paragraphs. A new paragraph should be used whenever there is a major change in events and possibly when there is a change in the scene of the story.
4) Proof-read & Review
- Many pupils are just so relieved to complete their composition that they do not proof-read their work. One of the greatest loss to a student is a brilliantly written story which goes out of point because the story develops away from the requirement of the given question.
- I always tell my pupils to feel proud of their work and re-read it after writing. In the midst of checking for grammar, spelling mistakes, keep a look out if the ideas link well with one another. Imagine while watching a television drama and the scene skips to somewhere else and you have no idea what is going on and why events are occurring. If reading your composition makes you feel somewhat confused, then the ideas have not been linked properly!
For tips for Struggling Writers please click here.
There will be a lot more resources coming up. I promise. So do check back!
Happy New Year and have a great weekend ahead!