The premise of this approach to narrative writing, was born from a quick game I play with my Year 6 class. After several attempts at trying to demonstrate how to build a narrative from a single event, I tried to get them to flash forward and flash back – what were the events leading up to the event? What were the consequences? (I use an image taken from an animation or the Pobble365 resource – which provides free images, daily.)
The impact of this approach was immediate. The pupils could share a range of opinions that led to this single event, and then – through group or paired discussion – they select the most dramatic and significant events that take place after the event. Often these opinions are shared as a class which then led to shared and paired writing.
Over time, the frame became more structured and looked a little like this:
Initially discuss the prompt with the pupils and gather as much information about this single moment as possible. Then proceed to discuss and decide on the events before and after the prompt.
Tell me what happened…
10 minutes before
10 minutes after
1 hour before
1 hour after
6 hours before
6 hours after
1 day before
1 day after
1 year before
1 year after
It goes without saying that these timings can be adapted and changed as required. I have also found it productive – particularly for lower ability children – to provide more precise timings.
I ask pupils to work independently initially, forming and weaving together each of the elements. Once finished, I ask the pupils to work in pairs to discuss and refine their ideas.
See an example below:
Once the frame has been produced the pupils draft a piece of writing based on their frame: elaborating where appropriate and, for the more able, selecting which times events are important in the overall effectiveness of the narrative.
Over the past two years I have used this as both a whole class teaching strategy and in small groups for intervention. The impact: pupils have a greater understanding of how they can develop a narrative to build up to an event and subsequent consequences; they have increased chronological awareness of significant events within a narrative.