Welcome to HIT—How I Teach….in this episode, I teach how I teach beginning story writing for upper elementary and middle school students. Beginning story writing is often challenging for young writers. They often do not understand the elements of story writing (even if given instructions—which can often be vague), so they end up writing a re-telling at best or a hybrid story/essay.

I have found some solutions for this, and I explain them within the context of the free lesson I am giving you called Re-Telling a “Known” Holiday Story in Your Own Words:

  • Give an assignment for story writing for the kids to re-tell a story that they already know.
    • The original story that they will re-tell will already have the story writing elements that young students often have trouble determining. That is, the plot, setting, obstacles, solution, etc., are all there for them already.
  • Use a sample to teach from (not that they outline from—just that they learn about scene breaks and paragraph breaks from the sample).
    • In today’s lesson, students can choose any holiday story they want to retell in a certain number of paragraphs and sentences. (They can always do more, just not fewer.) By using the sample and going through it together to find the elements and see how paragraphs/scenes are developed, they will be more ready to write their own story!


There are so many valuable nuggets in here, such as leveling students’ work based on their writing interests (i.e. story writing vs. research writing vs. essay writing); the importance of not expecting students to go from the unknown all the way over to the known in new/challenging skills (and how to take them over to “known” incrementally); the three things that cause us to make a scene/paragraph change in story writing; and much more!


Of course, just like every lesson in my one-month downloadable books and my one-semester Meaningful Composition books, this one also has the invaluable sample  story and the directed brainstorming box for developing scenes—all that you need to teach this lesson to your students!


And for your convenience, How I Teach…. is available as a podcast (follow along in your TN sheets for that week) and a YouTube video (with Power Point containing the same as the TN)!


Note: This lesson came from Write for a Month, Christmas, a month-long downloadable book from LAL store and from Retelling a Holiday Story in Your Own Words one week project from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Find everything you need here!

Weekly broadcast episodes with Teacher’s Notebook downloads (and links to listen or watch!) at the Language Arts Lady blog: https://languageartsladyblog.com/howiteach

Master (continually updated) Teacher’s Notebook downloadable booklet:https://languageartsladyblog.com/teachersnotebook

Free writing books and videos of me teaching your students for you for a couple of weeks! https://languageartsladyblog.com/5writingfreebies

All of my digital books: https://languageartsladystore.com

How I Teach YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC20OP_HNTUm8eBMNgMh06sQ

How I Teach Podcast:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-i-teach/id1552986393