K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • read a personal narrative to look at the elements of a personal narrative.
  • write and evaluate a personal narrative based on the 4th Grade NC writing assessment rubric.
  • use the text to answer open-ended questions based on the North Carolina 4th Grade Open-Ended Rubric.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 weeks


  • Copy of Owl Moon by Jane Yolan
  • Internet access or other resource materials about owls
  • Copies of the North Carolina Rubrics for 4th Grade Writing (doc | rtf)
  • Open-ended response rubric (doc | rtf)

Technology resources

  • internet access
  • word processing program, if typing story


  • The student will need to know how to access information on the internet or how to use reference materials to find information about owls.
  • The student will need to know how to use a word processing program, if stories are typed.


  1. Discuss with students a time they did something special with a parent or other person that they will always remember. Tell them that this is a personal story or narrative. Talk about what makes it a personal narrative--based on a real event or what could be a real event. Then read the book Owl Moon by Jane Yolan to the students. Discuss what made it a personal narrative. Point out the elements of a personal narrative using a flow map--opening with who, what, when, where, and why; body or middle with events; and closing with reflection.
  2. Read the book again and review the flow map. Have students discuss in small groups or individually the open-ended questions (doc | rtf).
  3. Read the book again and review the flow map. Students will make a story chart of the book. Divide a sheet of white 12 x 24 inch paper into 8 equal parts. In box one (upper left) write the title and author of the book. Box two across paper will list the characters. Box three will list the plot of the story. Box four, five and six will be sentences about the main events of the story. Box seven will be the conclusion of the story. Box eight will be the characters reflection about what happened in the story. Each box should be illustrated. Discuss how students can use this chart to plan or examine their own personal narratives that they write.
  4. Discuss the rubric used for state writing assessments. Then have students write their own personal narrative on the following prompt:
    Think of a time when you were with someone special. Write a story about that special time with that person. (Prompt: doc | rtf)
  5. Students will use a flow map to help plan their story and orally rehearse their story with a partner before writing the story. They will write their narratives individually. Stories can be shared for revisions and editing. Scoring will be based on the rubric.


  • Writing lesson will be assessed based on the rubric used for NC Fourth Grade writing assessments.
  • Open-ended questions will be assessed using the open-ended rubric.
  • Graphs and word problems (see below under “Supplemental information”) will be assessed for accuracy of information and use of correct form of a graph. Rubric for graph on open-ended questions can be used here too.

Supplemental information


Owl Moon is an example of one of the picture books that I use to teach mini-lessons in writing and reading with my students. It is a wonderful example of a personal narrative, and owls are a topic that interest my students when we study about animal adaptations in science.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 3
          • 3.RL.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
        • Grade 4
          • 4.RL.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
      • Writing

        • Grade 3
          • 3.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.04: Identify and interpret elements of fiction and nonfiction and support by referencing the text to determine the:
      • plot.
      • theme.
      • main idea and supporting details.
      • author's choice of words.
      • mood.
      • author's use of figurative language.
  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:
      • analyzing the impact of authors' word choice and context.
      • examining the reasons for characters' actions.
      • identifying and examining characters' motives.
      • considering a situation or problem from different characters' points of view.
      • analyzing differences among genres.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters, events and themes.
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.05: Use planning strategies to generate topics and organize ideas (e.g., brainstorming, mapping, webbing, reading, discussion).
    • Objective 4.09: Produce work that follows the conventions of particular genres (e.g., personal and imaginative narrative, research reports, learning logs, letters of request, letters of complaint).