Is it okay to "tell a lie?"

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by SleekTeach, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. SleekTeach

    SleekTeach Comrade

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    Mar 6, 2014

    When teaching personal narratives I often have students say they have nothing to write about. This week we've started every day with the task of "Write about something that has happened to you." Simple enough right? However, many students say "nothing has happened to me." So I tried to help them generate a few ideas.

    This is where I may have went wrong. I said: "The prompt didn't say that it had to be true, you could make something up."

    So when mentioning this to another teacher she informed that it wasn't a good thing to tell students because they would confuse their writing genres. I'm not even 100% sure what she meant by that.

    Anyway, none of the prompts ever say that the writing has to be true. I can remember bending the truth several times from elementary and on throughout college.

    I feel like I was okay to encourage them to spice of the story, or make it up, but was it wrong?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Mar 6, 2014

    I usually handle this by, "This is supposed to be a true story. The entire point of a personal narrative is that it is something true to your life. However, do I go home with you? Do I go on vacations with you?"

    If anything, exaggerating on a personal narrative IS part of the genre, since most/all personal narratives involve exaggeration.
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I had issues with students lying about their topics. For example, Billy got a surprise kitten for his birthday which became his best friend and blah, blah, blah. Oh! Susan suddenly realizes the same happened to her! So I had to cover what's appropriate and what's not, and I did not find it appropriate to write about something that in fact never happened to them. Nope, nope, nope. Then we discussed "Creative Liberties". So when Billy is desribing his excitment as he lifted the lid from the wrapped box, did he REALLY recall that wrapping paper was the Sunday comics? No, but it's a detail that allows readers to better understand and appreciate his story.
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I definitely agree with this.
     
  6. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    Mar 7, 2014

    I do too, but I also model stories from my life that aren 't so exciting , like dumb stuff my dog does and how I had to handle it . Then they start getting the idea that it can be anything that happened to them. I have been getting a better variety of stories from my students because of modeling these types of stories.
     
  7. SleekTeach

    SleekTeach Comrade

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    Nice, nice, I definitely should model the simple things more often. I get ahead of myself assuming 6 and 7 year olds will always know what I'm talking about. haha
     
  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Try giving them ideas for topics. Perhaps "an interesting story" is too much for them and they feel it has to be INTERESTING. Talk about a memorable holiday, with lots of details. Describe a day at school that will never be forgotten, if only by the student writing.
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yes, you must model! Besides, those so-called boring stories are the things life's made of for most little kids. :)
     
  10. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Mar 8, 2014

    I've done the same thing with
    an example that is simple or slightly mundane, "off the top of my head'
    we brainstorm examples
    those examples cannot be used but it gets the group started
     
  11. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2014

    We make lists to give the kids a jumping off point. Use the headings Places You Go, People You Know, and Things You Do (sports/activities). You only need a handful under each heading to get them thinking. Then, they think of one time they went to that place, or spent time with that person, or did that activity and something interesting happened. Personal narratives really should be true and about a time they had a deep emotion.
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I would agree with this. I've never thought to make stuff up when writing a personal narrative - brainstorm interesting details, yes, but totally make stuff up, no. "Real" writers have gotten into big trouble for embellishing their stories, like the author of Three Cups of Tea. There are plenty of great books out there that describe very boring, normal stories with good, descriptive writing.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2014

    A personal narrative is a true story of an experience the writer had. The prompt doesn't have to say it has to be true...the genre does. Personal narratives are true. You can certainly teach a unit in writing fiction, but you don't want kids writing fiction/lies during a personal narrative unit of study. I'm sure that's what your colleague meant by her comment. You need to be teaching your young writers how to come up with ideas...telling them to just 'make it up' isn't good teaching of this genre.
    Instead, you could create a focus/anchor chart of writing ideas. When kids are stuck, they can refer to the chart. You could also suggest writing about a time they felt surprised, happy, excited, sad... Write about the first time you did something, the last time you did something. A time with a special person, an experience at a special place. Kids need to know the small moments are worthy of saving in writing. Model that. Gather mentor texts and use them over and over...when kids just aren't getting started I tell them to write about their breakfast:D that usually inspires them to come up with something to write about (and it's rarely breakfast)
     
  14. janis

    janis Companion

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    Mar 9, 2014

    I completely agree! I'm always telling my kids this. You have to look at what is being evaluated here, and that is the child's proficiency at writing. What whether or not it's true is completely arbitrary.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2014

    . Most first graders dont have the writing skills or enough life experience to write a 'made up' personal narrative as proficiently as he or she could write from their own real-life experiences. Even the creative ones who could tell a pretty convincing whopper should be taught what a personal narrative is, how to generate ideas and how to 'get unstuck'.
     
  16. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Mar 13, 2014

    I agree with czacza (and some of the others) here: a personal narrative has to be drawn from truth. I think I wouldn't restrict them to the last couple of weeks, though. Let them pick any time period.

    My middle son has done some wonderful personal narratives based on really prosaic events. Being yelled at by mom for skipping tutoring was one recent narrative, being upset and my coming into the room to comfort him was another. He even draws thematic conclusions within the narrative, which is surprising because most of the time he's a funny, somewhat airheaded goofball.

    I'd have to disagree that it's "completely arbitrary" whether it's true or not. Writing about true events and writing about fiction are different skills, and writing isn't just the ability to put together a well-structured sentence or even paragraph. Writing is about thinking; learning to write in the different genres teaches us how to think clearly and precisely.
     

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