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Tell That Story Quick!

Context for this Lesson

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TOPIC: Personal Narratives – Editing and Revising

GRADE: 7th

FOCUS QUESTIONS: How can the process of storytelling aid students in revising and editing a personal narrative?

MATERIALS: Index cards, personal narratives


TEKS 7.14C English Language Arts and Writing, Grade 7

7 (14) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to:

(C)  revise drafts to ensure precise word choice and vivid images; consistent point of view; use of simple, compound, and complex sentences; internal and external coherence; and the use of effective transitions after rethinking how well questions of purpose, audience, and genre have been addressed;

Theatre TEKS

(7.1) Perception.

The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment, using elements of drama and conventions of theatre.

(C) create expressive and rhythmic movements;


Circle Dash        

Everyone stands in a circle with one person in the middle. The object of the game is for any two people in the circle to silently signal each other and switch places. The person in the middle tries to get to an open spot before the people who are trying to switch get there. Players must move through the center of the circle, not around the outside. The person left without a spot is now in the middle. More than one pair of people can switch at a time.

Ideas for classroom management:

- Before you get started you might ask What are some ways we might get someone's attention silently in order to switch with them? or How will you know when to move? and How can we move safely through the space?

- It might be useful to mark places on the floor with post its or tape to make sure that all students are aware of the spots in the circle.

- You may want to start with only one pair switching at a time. Then once that is successful, add another pair.

After playing one round, check in with students. Ask them: What were some things we did successfully in the game? What are some things we still need to work on?

Play again and use their suggestions and scaffold carefully to try to ensure a more successful round if applicable.


  • Be sure to make visual contact with someone before you try to switch places.
  • Switchers, take care to go AROUND each other and not try to go THROUGH each other!
  • More than one pair can switch at a time – so make eye contact and go!

Reflection on the strategy/participation

  • What went well? What did we do that worked in this game today?
  • What ways did you devise to make contact your switching partners?
  • What strategies did you use to make it to your spot and not be in the middle?
  • What does it take to make this game “work”? How might those things be useful in our classroom work?

Share with the students what you noticed them accomplishing well.

Transition: Today we are going to look at your personal narratives and investigate how we find the main idea.


*This lesson works in conjunction with students having written a personal narrative.


Tiered Storytelling

Make sure students have time to refresh their memories about their personal narratives, re-read them, go over them etc…

Print out of questions should be ready for handing out.

Make sure students have a pencil and an index card at their desks.

In this activity, students are asked to make concentric circles. In this formation each person gets paired up and has a chance to share a story with a partner in several minutes. The first time it is a chance for interviewing and revising their story to add details. One person shares, and the other person interviews them, this takes about 4 minutes. The outside circle then moves one space. With a new partner students are then asked to share the same story this time in two minutes, with just under a minute for questions and suggestions. The outside circle moves one more time. Now students share their story in one minute. Then the outside of the circle moves again, now the students share their stories in one sentence.

The objective is to capture through storytelling the most important details of a story.

In just a moment I will pair you up with someone and ask you to tell the story of your personal narrative. How would you tell this story in 4 minutes? How would you tell this story to a friend? What details are the most important? Take a moment and think about this, jot any ideas that you have on your index card in front of you. Now, it’s time to get into our pairs.

To get into our pairs I’m going to ask you to make two circles: one facing the outside and one circle facing the inside. This is your partner. Partners will get to listen and ask questions about the story they are hearing. You will also have this piece of paper with a few questions written on it. Please ask these questions throughout the story. You will only have a few minutes for this activity. Remember, tell the story like you were telling it to a friend for the first time. I will give you a one minute warning when time is almost up for the first storyteller. The person on the outside of the circle goes first, begin.

Give the students about 4 minutes. Walk around the circle checking in on the questions the students are asking, where are students struggling to add details? Where are they struggling to recognize the value in their story? After 2 minutes encourage the interviewers to ask questions about what they want to know.

Make sure to give students a 30 second warning. It’s ok if this happens in less than 4 mins.

Great. Now the 2nd storyteller of the pair, please tell your story in 4 mins.

Now have the person on the inside of the circle share their story and repeat the same process.

Now, the outside circle is going to move clockwise one space. Move one position over so you have a new partner for the next step of this activity.

What you are going to do now is tell that same story in 2 mins. Before you start think about all of the most important details of your story. Now that you have practiced storytelling and interviewing, what have you learned about your story? What new details might you add in this time to make your story more interesting and specific? Ok, inside circle goes first this time. Are you ready? Begin.

Have the storyteller share. At a minute thirty, if people finish early invite the other partner to provide more feedback according to the questions on the handout. Where could that student still add more details into the story to emphasize the main idea?

The outside circle is going to move again. This time I want you to take your story and now tell it to your partner in one sentence. What is the most important part of your story? What is the essence or the heart of your story? I’m going to give you 30 seconds to think about what that sentence would be. Ok, inside circle shares first, then, outside circle shares it to their partner. Thank your partner and now come and sit back down at your seats where your index card and pencils are and write that sentence down.

We are going to do one last partner activity. To do this I am going to show you how to work together to create an image.

On the back of that card I want you to write: What is the one idea, one feeling, that your story is about. I want you to think about that in your head. Now write it down on the back of your index card

Now your last task is to create an image for your story. In theatre we often talk about expressing ideas not just with words, like in a script, but also with our bodies and our faces.

(Source: Tiered storytelling created by Megan Alrutz)


Group students into partners. One person in each pair will be the artist, the other will be the “clay”. Tell the artists to "sculpt" their partner into a statue representing a specific theme, word, or character relevant to your content. The only rule is that you may not put your clay in any position that would make them uncomfortable. After the participants have finished sculpting, the sculptures remain frozen and the artists walk about their newly created gallery.
To “sculpt” the artist can show the clay what they want them to do using imaginary puppet strings, or simply gesturing from a distance how they want the clay to move, called mirroring.

In just a moment we are going to create a frozen statue with a partner. There are a few things that make an interesting frozen statue. One is to think about all of the different levels your statue can be at, you can stand up, sit down, crouch or kneel. Also, make your expressions really clear. Make your gestures big with your body and don’t forget about your face. This helps us understand whats really going on. Finally, and this is most important, make sure you pick a position that you can hold for a while.

One person is going to show their partner what position best represents this main idea of their personal narrative. To do this one of you will be the artist and one of you will be the clay or the statue.

I’m going to show you three different ways of working with a partner. Can I have a volunteer? In order to work respectfully, you can show them what position to be in, in one of 3 ways. You can either move them gently by asking, can I touch you? Or use puppet strings (show) or mirroring (show). As the artist it is your responsibility to ask your partner which option they are comfortable with. Both partners create your images and remember it as best as you can. You’ll have three minutes for this activity.

I need one of you to be one and one of you to be A, which one of you wants to be 1? Ok, A’s you are the artist first and 1’s you are the clay first. When you have figured out your image, please switch.

Now that we are finished, A’s go first. Please make a circle and our 1’s will do a gallery walk of our statues. What images or feelings do you see in these statues?  

Take a few answers for each

What details help support that?

Ok great. Let’s switch. Now 1’s please make a circle so the A’s can walk around and take a look.

What images or feelings do you see in these statues? What details help us understand that she/he is feeling __________? Or that this image is about _________?

Side coaching:

  • Before you begin please ask your partner if you may touch them (or if there’s no touching if you may sculpt them).
  • When mirroring it is important that you hold the position once you are placed in it. Don’t keep mirroring once you’ve been told to hold something.
  • Try to explore different levels and body positions.

Transition: These were wonderful images. I really got a sense of your stories and their details. Let’s talk for a moment about what we did today.

  • What did you enjoy about any of the activities we did today?
  • What there anything surprising about telling your story over and over again?
  • What did you learn about the process of editing or revising our stories?