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So, What’s the Story?

Teaching Narrative to Understand Ourselves, Others, and the World

James Fredricksen, Jeffrey D Wilhelm, Boise State University, Michael Smith, Temple University

SeriesThis product is part of the series: The Exceeding the Common Core State Standard Series

ISBN 978-0-325-04292-3 / 0-325-04292-6 / 2012 / 208pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
Availability: In Stock
Grade Level: 6th - 12th
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Get the whole story on teaching narrative writing

“Narrative can foster a new understanding of self and others, and help people solve real problems together. In short narrative empowers people. This makes it vitally important to helping students become ‘college and career ready.’”
—James Fredricksen, Michael Smith, and Jeffrey Wilhelm

While Common Core standards on argument and nonfiction have gotten the lion’s share of attention, the anchor standard for narrative writing has been overlooked. Not anymore, thanks to So, What’s the Story?

“Write narratives,” states the Common Core, “to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.” In So, What’s the Story? James Fredricksen, Michael Smith, and Jeffrey Wilhelm share lessons and unit frameworks on narrative writing that help students not only meet the standards, but do important real-world work. “Narrative is about much more than the form of a story, identifying a protagonist, or naming its climax,” they write, “it’s about doing functional work not only in the classroom and school, but in the community and the world.”

With ideas for teaching autobiography, narrative nonfiction, imaginary narratives, and narratives that employ both words and images, So, What’s the Story? provides practitioners with ways to help students make the leap from composing stories to understanding how stories and narrative concepts can help them to identify, critique, and change how their world works.

“Narrative writing empowers individuals as they negotiate the day-to-day experience of their lives,” write Fredricksen, Smith, and Wilhelm, “but an understanding of narrative is essential for people in a whole host of careers and professions.” Use So, What’s the Story? and ensure that the story of your writers doesn’t end with meeting the standard, but with a lifetime of problem solving with story.


1. An Introduction to Our Approach
2. Why Narratives Matter: Knowledge of Purposes and Contexts
3. Thinking About the Substance of Stories
4. Shaping the Substance of Stories
5. Narrative Nonfiction: Writing About the Self
6. Narrative Nonfiction as Literary Journalism: Writing About Others and the World
7. Writing Imaginative Narratives
8. Composing Narratives with Words and Images
9. How Narrative Can Serve Young People

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