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Brainstorming Ideas

Brainstorming ideas is a commonly used strategy that helps students quickly explore what they could write about in an essay. 

Download and print the handout packet for this resource by clicking the button below.

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Remember, personal narratives describe events and experiences in students' lives that are important to them.

When you are ready, click play on the video below.

Now it is your turn to brainstorm ideas for a personal narrative that you will write. On the first page of Handout 32, list ideas for two or three of the categories.

Narrowing the Focus

One of the elements of a well-written personal narrative is a narrow, clearly defined focus. Sometimes students select topics that are too large or broad. It is important to help students narrow their focus or topic to a single event or experience before they begin writing.

Have Handout 32 available to use during the next video.

When you are ready, click play on the video below.

On Handout 32, complete the second graphic organizer: Narrowing the Focus of an Idea. First, select one brainstorming idea that is important to you. Then, list specific details about your experience and select one to write about.

Developing the Central Idea

The central idea is the point of a personal essay. The central idea is similar to the thesis or controlling idea in an expository or persuasive essay. The central idea communicates to the reader the experience and its significance (meaning, insight, or lessons learned).

Have Handout 32 ready to use during the next video.

When you are ready, click play on the video below.

On Handout 32, complete the third graphic organizer: Developing the Central Idea of a Personal Narrative.

Remember, visualizing helps to clarify the significance of an event or experience. Imagine yourself once again in that experience and focus on your feelings, thoughts, and impressions.

When you are finished, locate Handout 33: Prewriting Model Lesson from the handout packet.

This handout presents the key ideas from the model lesson shown in the videos in a different format to help you model the prewriting strategies in your classroom. Take a moment to review the handout. In the classroom, remember to introduce and teach each strategy and step of the writing process separately and over time (several lessons or class sessions).