How Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) Plans Assist High School Students in Writing Their Narrations
I was recently asked why there is no answer key for written narrations. This is a good question! Written narrations are to be personal responses to the reading of living books. Charlotte Mason stressed that each student’s written narration should be unique, and no two written narrations from different students should be alike. There will never be answer keys for written narrations for these reasons. It would be similar to asking a student to write an essay on a given topic; there is no answer key as each essay should be each student’s own creation. A written narration has even more creative leeway than an essay. However, that doesn’t mean students have no assistance or guidelines for writing their narrations!
A Specific Example of How the World History Guide Assists Students in Writing Narrations
Heart of Dakota‘s high school guides give specific guidelines to help students with writing their written narrations. When students read carefully and do each part of the plans, Carrie’s plans assist them in writing their narrations. For example, let’s look at Unit 10, Day 2’s plan for Heart of Dakota’s high school World History guide. This written narration is part of the Literature Study plans and is based on a reading from Pearl Maiden.
How the “Introduce” Part of the Plans Assists Students in Writing Narrations
The “Introduce” part guides students to notice what guides the actions of Miriam, Benoni, and Caleb. It also asks students: “What differing higher power or motive is each person guided by?”
So, as students are reading, they know they need to pay attention to the higher power each person is guided by. This assists students as right away as they know it will be important to analyze characters’ actions and the motives guiding those actions. It also draws students to notice how, as Christians, our motives should come from our desire to serve the Lord.
How the “Read and Annotate” Part of the Plans Assists Students in Writing Narrations
The “Read and Annotate” part has students annotate as they read. This should help them be thinking about how they will construct their narration. This assists students as they can look back at their annotations when they write their narrations. A specific annotation is also assigned to be found and underlined in the book. Luke 21:5-6 should be looked up to connect to this annotation. The question “Who made this prophecy in Luke?” should be answered (mentally or out loud to a parent if a student needs that assistance.) Each of these steps in the Read and Annotate part of the plans assists students in writing their narrations.
How the “Reflect” Part of the Plans Assists Students in Writing Narrations
The “Reflect” section gives the topic, the exact page numbers to reference, and the expected length to write in the plans:
“Write a 3-paragraph narration about the meaning of Miriam’s vision of Mount Mariah on p. 207-208.”
So, by looking at the two pages the student can see exactly the section they are to write about in their narration. The student may reread it if needed. This assists students in writing their narration by narrowing down the section to write upon, by giving a focus for the narration, and by giving the expected length of the narration.
How the “Reflect” Part of the Plans Further Assists Students in Writing Narrations
Carrie breaks Miriam’s vision down even further into a first and a second part. Our sons use these guidelines as cues to assist them as they write their narrations. For example, Carrie’s plans say “For the first part of her vision, refer to Genesis 22:2, 2 Chronicles 3:1, and Matthew 21:12-13.”
So, for the first part of the narration, students need to connect the first part of Miriam’s vision to these Bible verses. Using phrases from each Bible verse to make connections is encouraged. I asked my sons to do this as part of their written narrations.
For the last part of Miriam’s vision, Carrie assists students by giving guidelines about what they need to include in their narrations. They are to ‘note that she is seeing the future after the Fall of the Temple, when first Romans then Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottomans all had periods of conquest of Mount Moriah. Crusaders wore scarlet crosses. Ottomans used the crescent symbol.’
How the Chronological Order of the Plans and the Written Narration Skills Assist Students
Carrie’s notes are always written chronologically. Students struggling with narrating can use the notes in order to craft their written narration. These sequential notes assist students in writing their narrations in an order that makes sense. Finally, students/parents together use the Written Narration Skills in the Appendix to edit the narration.
Students struggling to write narrations may be missing the assistance provided by simply following the plans.
Usually high school students who are struggling with writing narrations are just reading the pages assigned and then trying to write their narration. They are missing out on all the guidance Carrie has worked so hard to give in the Introduce, Read and Annotate, and Reflect part of the plans. To be sure my sons are doing each of these parts of the plans, I ask them each day. We talk briefly about each section. This goes fairly quickly! I have the plans to assist me!
When my sons began high school, I needed to train them how to pay attention to the expected guidelines in the guide. These parts of the plans are the ‘answer key’ for written narrations in their own way, but they still keep the creative aspect of written narrations intact. So, don’t miss out on the provided assistance in the plans for writing excellent narrations! Taking care to work through each of these sections assists our students in following the plans to write their narrations more on their own. Students make excellent progress this way! I have seen it in my own sons, and it is such a blessing!