August 20, 2015
by Emily Wakabi

Lesson plan

Narrative Writing: Adding Dialogue

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Students will be able to incorporate dialogue into their personal narratives.

(5 minutes)
  • Tell the class, “I’m going to tell you two quick stories. At the end you are going to vote on which story was better.” Tell one story without dialogue and one with dialogue to show how adding dialogue to stories can be more entertaining as well as helps the listener better understand the characters thoughts and emotions.
    Here are two quick story examples you may tell the class:
    Story 1: “I was walking through the grocery store one day with my mom.  She saw a cart coming straight toward me, but I didn’t see it.  I ran right into the cart and landed in a heap on the floor.  It was such a disaster.
    Story 2: “I was walking through the grocery store one day with my mom.  All of a sudden she yelled out, “Watch out for that cart!”  I was starting to turn around to see what she was talking about but the cart was coming too quickly.  I yelled out, “Oh no!  Stop!” as the cart came crashing into me.  As I landed on the heap on the floor I screamed, “Ouch, watch out next time!”  It was such a disaster.
  • Tell the students, “Show me a one with your fingers if you thought story one was better and a two if you thought story two was better.
  • Ask the students, “Why was story two better?”
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to the class that, “The second story was much better because the dialogue that was added helped you imagine the story as if you had been there, helped you understand what the characters were feeling, and captured your attention more because of the added details the dialogue provided. That is why it’s so important to add dialogue when writing personal narratives.”
  • Check for understanding by telling the students, “Turn and tell your neighbor why dialogue is important in a narrative.”
  • Explain to the class, “When adding dialogue, you need to add the correct punctuation. Right before dialogue is added, you need a comma. Next, capitalize the first letter of the quote. Then, add quotation marks at the beginning of what character or narrator are saying. Lastly, add an end punctuation mark and end quotation marks.”
  • Make sure to have a simple sentence written on the board that includes dialogue that shows and example of the correct punctuation. For example: Sarah said, “Pass me the football!”
  • Ask, “Does this sentence use the correct punctuation? Why or why not?”
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to the class, “I wrote out my personal narrative, but I forgot to include dialogue. It’s going to be your job to help me add dialogue throughout my story.”
  • You may use this example or write your own: “It was day three of the road trip from Chicago to California, and my friend and I were getting tired. We just couldn’t wait to see our best friend when we reached Sacramento, CA. We were already wearing shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops so we would be ready to hit the beach when we arrived. All of a sudden, as our car came around the curve, we saw a sight we couldn’t believe! There was white, powdery snow everywhere! Even though we had been driving through the mountains of California for quite some time, we had no idea it could snow in this sunny state. We quickly realized we were not prepared for this type of weather and weren’t sure what to do next..."
  • Call on students to help you add dialogue to this story in order to let the readers know what the author was thinking, feeling, and to better capture the audience.
  • Ask questions such as, “Where could I add dialogue to let readers know how I was feeling? Where could I add dialogue to let readers understand what I was thinking?”
(20 minutes)
  • Give students 20 minutes to either write the first draft of their personal narrative (including dialogue along the way) or read through what you might have written already and add dialogue.
  • Ask, “Why is it so important that we add dialogue when writing narratives?”
  • Enrichment: If you have students who finish early and need an extra challenge, have them exchange stories with other students and give two comments of feedback to each other.
  • Support: If a student is struggling with writing in general, she might need to draw a picture for each event in the story. Then, that student could write one sentence of dialogue below each picture.
(5 minutes)
  • Walk around the classroom and conduct mini conferences with students as they work to see if they understand how to incorporate dialogue successfully into their work.
  • If you want to do a quick punctuation check to see if students know how to add the correct punctuation, write this sentence on the board: Trevor told his friend You are my best friend.
  • Have students write it down on a sticky note and add the correct punctuation.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask for one or two volunteers to share with the class a part of their story that includes dialogue.

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