Breaking Down the Common Core Standards for Working on Written Narratives

The common core standards are the set of curriculum guidelines that the department of education has set forth as a method of making sure that all students are taught the skills needed to be successful in college or in the job force. Whether they love them or hate them, many speech therapists are bound to follow them as most states have adopted them.

The common core standards have set standards on how well students should be able to write narratives at each grade level.

However, many of our students with language delays and disorders are struggling to meet these guidelines because they struggle with the language that is the very foundation for these skills.

As speech therapists, we can teach these children pre-requisite skills that will give them a better chance of achieving the same level of mastery of written narratives as their grade-level peers.

This article will give you ideas of what you can work on with language delayed students to help them meet grade-level expectations for written narratives.

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1st Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Write 2 or more appropriately sequenced events
  • Include details of what happened
  • Use temporal words to signal event order
  • Provide some sense of closure

What to Work on:

  1. Student will discuss details of what happened in past events by answering questions about an event that recently happened (e.g. “who was there?” “what did he do?” “where did he go?”)
  2. When given a set of 2 past events (presented verbally, in writing, or using picture representations), Student will identify which event happened first and which happened last.

~or~
When given a set of 3 past events (presented verbally, in writing, or using picture representations), Student will sequence the events into the order in which they occurred.

  1. When verbally describing two or more past events, Student will use temporal words like “first”, “next”, “then”, and “last” to signal the order of the events (use picture or written cues as necessary).
  2. After verbally describing two or more past events (see above), Student will write down the past events while including details of at least 2 past events in sequenced order and temporal words like “first”, “next”, “then”, and “last” to signal the order of those events (using picture or written cues as necessary).
  3. After reading a short sequence of past events, Student will provide a closing statement, such as a statement of emotion (e.g. “I had fun”) or summary (e.g. “The pool is a good place to swim”).
  4. Student will write a simple narrative about at least 2 appropriately sequenced events that includes details of what happened, uses temporal words to signal event order, and provides some sense of closure.

2nd Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Recount a well elaborated event or short sequence of events
  • Include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings
  • Use temporal words to signal event order
  • Provide some sense of closure

What to Work On:

  1. Student will answer questions about the actions, thoughts, and feelings associated with past events (e.g. “What did he do?” “What were you thinking?” and “How did it make you feel?”).
  2. When given 3 steps to an event, either past or recurring (presented verbally, in writing, or using picture representations), Student will sequence the steps to that event into the order in which they occurr(ed). For example, Student will sequence the steps to brushing your teeth or the steps that he took to get ready that morning.
  3. When verbally describing an elaborated event or short sequence of events, Student will use temporal words like “first”, “next”, “then”, and “last” to signal the order of the events (use picture or written cues as necessary).
  4. After verbally describing an elaborated event or short sequence of events (see above), Student will write down the steps to the event in sequenced order and temporal words like “first”, “next”, “then”, and “last” to signal the order of those events (using picture or written cues as necessary).
  5. When writing a short narrative about the steps to a past event, Student will elaborate on the steps by including details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings when prompted by an adult.
  6. After reading a short sequence of past events, Student will provide a closing statement, such as a statement of emotion (e.g. “I had fun”) or summary (e.g. “The pool is a good place to swim”).
  7. Student will write a simple narrative that recounts a well elaborated event or short sequence of events that includes details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, uses temporal words to signal event order, and provides some sense of closure.

3rd Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
  • Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations.
  • Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order.
  • Provide a sense of closure

What to Work On:

  1. Prior to writing a narrative about a past event or imagined experience, Student will fill out a pre-writing organizational worksheet with an adult that will include the topic/situation, the narrator/characters, the details or steps, and the logical order of those steps.

Here’s an example of my pre-writing worksheets:

Click Here to Download the Narratives Pre-Writing Worksheets for Free!

  1. After creating an outline of a written narrative (see above), Student will write the narrative down and use temporal words like “first”, “next”, “then”, and “last” to signal the order of events.
  2. After creating an outline of a written narrative (see above), Student will write the narrative down and add one extra piece of information for each detail in the sequence, such as dialogue or descriptions of actions, thoughts, or feelings.

4th Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
  • Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
  • Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
  • Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

What to Work On:

  1. Prior to writing a narrative about a past event or imagined experience, Student will fill out a pre-writing organizational worksheet with an adult that will include the topic/situation, the narrator/characters, the details or steps, and the logical order of those steps.
  2. When told a scenario or situation (with characters), Student will make up dialogue that show the responses of the characters to that situation.
  3. After creating an outline of a written narrative (see above), Student will write the narrative down and add one extra piece of information for each detail in the sequence, such as dialogue or descriptions of actions, thoughts, or feelings.
  4. When prompted, Student will provide 3 examples of different temporal words or phrases that can be used in written text to manage the sequence of events (e.g. “first”, “next”, “last”).

Click Here to Download the Narratives Pre-Writing Worksheets for Free!

ith Temporal Words: Click Here to Download the Temporal Words Worksheet

  1. Student will answer questions about sensory details of events currently happening or past events using descriptive language (e.g. “How did it feel to go swimming”).
  2. After creating an outline of a written narrative (see above), Student will write the narrative down and add one extra piece of information for each detail in the sequence, such as using concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
  3. After being told a narrated sequence of events or experience, Student will identify the main idea of the sequence and create a conclusion statement that logically follows the sequence (such as a summary, opinion, or evaluation).

 5th Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
  • Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.
  • Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

What to Work On: Same steps as 4th grade (see above). Plus…

    1. Student will discuss how to use appropriate pacing in written narratives by not being too wordy but still providing enough details to make the story interesting.

 6th Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
  • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

What to Work On: Same steps as 5th grade (see above). Plus…

  1. Student will identify story elements that establish a context, such as the location, time, and situation (setting of the story) and will include this element in an opening statement of a written narrative.
  2. Student will use dialogue and description to develop a character from a narrative. For example, the adult will set up a character (a boy at the swimming pool) and the student will write three sentences that will provide more information about the character.
  3. Student will read a written narrative and mark where there are shifts from one time frame or setting to another. Student will then add transition words, phrases, and clauses to the work to signal those shifts.

7th Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
  • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

What to Work On: Same Steps from 6th Grade (see above). Plus…

  1. Student will identify the different types of point of view in written narratives and be able to identify which point of view is used in a narrative that the child reads.
  2. Student will write a narrative using a consistent point of view and will edit his work after completion to ensure a consistent point of view was used throughout.
  3. After reading a written narrative, Student will create a conclusion statement that reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

8th Grade

Common Core Standards:

  • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
  • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events

What to Work on: Same steps from 7th Grade (see above). Plus…

  1. When given a written statement or short narrative, Student will add one sentence to the statement that reflects on the event or character.
  2. When told two events or experiences, Student will use appropriate transition words, phrases, and clauses to show the relationship between those two things (such as saying that one caused the other).

9th-12th Grades

Common Core Standards:

  • Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.
  • Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.

What to Work On:

  1. Prior to writing a narrative, Student will fill out a pre-writing organizational worksheet with an adult that will include the problem, situation, or observation, the narrator/characters, the point of view, the details or steps, and the logical order of those steps.

Here’s an example of my pre-writing worksheets: Click Here to Download the Narratives Pre-Writing Worksheets for Free!

  1. When told a situation/scenario and characters, Student will write appropriate dialogue between the characters to develop the events or characters.
  2. Student will identify pacing that is too slow, too fast, or appropriate when reading written narratives and will identify strategies to change pacing (taking out extra wording to speed it up or adding more details to slow it down).
  3. When told a situation/scenario and what occurred, Student will write one sentence to reflect on the event/occurrence.
  4. Student will identify and map out multiple plot lines in a written narrative. Mapping out would include drawing a line for each plot line and writing events from the story on the appropriate line.
  5. When given a list of events from a written narrative or past event, Student will arrange them into the correct sequential order.
  6. When given a sequence of events, Student will use temporal language and other descriptive language to signal the order of those events and build on one another to connect them into a logical whole.
  7. When given a written narrative with non-specific words and simple vocabulary, Student will rewrite the passage using synonyms and figurative language (including sensory language) to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  8. When given a written narrative without an ending, Student will write a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.
  9. After filling out a pre-writing worksheet (see above), Student will write a narrative with a smooth progression of experiences and events while including all elements from the pre-writing worksheet.
  10. After writing a narrative, Student will edit his own work to include dialogue, appropriate pacing, reflections, multiple plot lines, sequencing techniques and language, and descriptive language (Student should edit for one of these things at a time).
  11. Student should be able to map out the writing process including the following steps:
  • Fill Out Pre-Writing Worksheet
  • Write Narrative
  • Edit for use of dialogue, appropriate pacing, reflections, multiple plot lines, sequencing techniques and language, and descriptive language
  • Edit for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, etc.

Printable Activities for These Skills

Here are some links that may help you to teach these skills. These are free downloads that you can print out and use to create the activities.

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