South Orangetown Central School District

Fifth graders at Cottage Lane Elementary School are putting the final touches on their personal narratives that they will be sharing with their classmates and families this Friday during their publishing party.

Starting in September as part of their narrative writing unit, students have been tasked with choosing a meaningful moment from their life to write a personal narrative. Students had to draft and revise their work before meeting with their writing partners to peer review and edit each other’s work.

Last Friday, students in CLE teachers Jim Sharkey and Kristin Cavanagh’s class met with their writing partners for one last time before their writing celebration to read their entire story, give each other feedback and point out any spelling or punctuation errors. Cavanagh and Sharkey encouraged students to ask questions about their partner’s work, be a respectful and engaged listener and give them a compliment about their writing. “It helped to have a writing partner because if I made a mistake, she can help me fix it,” said Eleanor H.

Students eagerly shared their stories and asked each other follow-up questions about their experiences. “I really enjoy writing. I like being about to think back on memories that I have and then writing it down. It makes me feel good,” Thomas C. said. His writing partner River D. added, “It was fun to be able to express what happened to me and then put it into words.”

After sharing their stories and providing edits with their writing partner, students had to select a part of their story that they will share during the publishing party. Students were encouraged to select 5-6 sentences with the most detail or the “heart of the story” to share with their peers and families. Cavanagh asked students to reflect on what they learned and how they have improved over the last few weeks and students answered by saying their writing got stronger by providing more details in their story, their punctuation improved, they developed stronger titles and improved their writing stamina.

CLE fifth graders share personal narratives