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The Power of Narrative, Part 2


by Terry Phillips


Developing speaking and writing

Last time we talked about how narratives get students motivated and actively reading or listening. But they can also be used as a springboard for developing speaking and writing. The most obvious link to speaking practice is role play, in which students act out scenes that have actually happened in the narrative, or predict scenes which might happen when Character A meets Character B in the next chapter. For writing, the easiest task to set is summarizing a chapter, but we can develop creative writing by asking students to write the summary from the point of view of one of the characters involved in the events or to produce a ‘What if…’ story, taking the characters on a different narrative journey from the one in the story.


Critical thinking

Narratives lend themselves very well to two elements of this so-called 21st-century skill. Firstly, inferencing or ‘reading between the lines’. A good set of True/False statements can tease out whether students can go beyond what they actually read or hear, to what can be inferred from this information. Ideally, the statements should not repeat anything in the narrative, but get the students to go deeper. If the narrative contains a brave action by one of the characters, a good T/F statement is ‘X is brave’, but only if that statement is not spelled out in the narrative. Secondly, logical reasoning. We can ask students to explain why something happened or what will happen if Character A does X. The accuracy of the answer shows us clearly how much of the narrative has been understood, and where, if at all, lack of comprehension has occurred.



To be continued next time. Meanwhile, find Innova Press Readers and other ways to get children reading and enjoying it at!

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