Written Narrations As a Homeschool Form of Assessment

Heart of Dakota - FOHTY - Blog

Sharing is caring!

From Our House To Yours

What is a written narration?

I thought I’d make the focus of this weekly check-in written narrations.  So, just what is a written narration, you might ask? Well, a written narration is an assessment requiring students to use writing to tell back what they’ve just read or heard. Students use this Charlotte Mason inspired written skill in response to the reading of living books. Authors of living books write in a narrative style and are passionate about what they are writing about.  Heart of Dakota uses living books as the primary reading material for virtually every school subject in homeschooling. Therefore, it makes sense that a common form of assessment in Heart of Dakota’s plans is the written narration.

What makes written narrations a good form of assessment?

Using written narrations as an assessment encourages children to share what they have read with accuracy, personality, originality, and spirit. This is the opposite of using worksheets, quizzes, and tests as a form of assessment. Students often find  writing a narration to be the harder of the two assessments.  Why? Probably because the student does not have any aid in writing a narration. Multiple choice answers, true or false questions, or fill-in-the-blank quizzes aid the student in giving (or guessing) the proper response. In contrast, students rely wholly on their own memory and knowledge of the topic in written narrations. There is certainly a place for both forms of assessment!  Heart of Dakota does use both. However,  when students retell what they are reading, they better remember what they have read. So, this is the preferred method of assessment whenever possible.

What do written narrations look like at various ages?

Heart of Dakota’s plans take away the guesswork for what kinds of narrations we as teachers of our children should expect. First, students follow clear step-by-step instructions in each Heart of Dakota guide. Students carefully follow the noted parameters particular to each written narration assessment. Second, students always write narrations in response to reading a living book. However, the subject they write about may vary.  Students often write narrations in response to history readings, but they can write them in response to science, literature, etc. Finally, whatever the subject matter, students always write narrations in response to reading outstanding books! So, to show what written narrations look like at various ages, I’ve included one from each of my kiddos below…

Creation to Christ Written Narration
World Geography Written Narration
U.S. History II Written Narration
What improvements in written narrations should be expected?

Incrementally, the parameters of written narrations get harder as students age and mature. Some improvements can definitely be expected! But, what are they?

Expect an increase in the reading level and maturity level of books. 

To begin with, you can expect an increase in the reading level of living books in which written narrations are given as an assessment.  The Creation to Christ reading was Streams of History: Ancient Rome.  In World Geography, students read  A Book of Discovery, and in U.S. History II students read America: The Last Best Hope Volume II.

Plan for the length of the written narrations to increase each year.

In addition, you can expect an increase in length of the written narrations.  Students write 5-8 sentences in Creation to Christ. In World Geography, students write a length of 3-4 paragraphs. By U.S. History II, students write a length of 5 paragraphs.

Anticipate editing abilities to gradually improve as students move down the Written Narrations Skills checklist.

Furthermore, you can expect an increase in a student’s ability to edit using Heart of Dakota’s Written Narration Skills checklist.  I still do the editing in Creation to Christ.  We do not address every skill on the Written Narration Skills checklist. In World Geography, we share the editing process and most skills on the Written Narration Skills checklist are addressed.  By U.S. History II, the student edits his own written narration, and the entire Written Narration Skills checklist is usually addressed.

Plan for more difficult and varied types of written narration assessments as students mature.

Last, you can expect an increase in difficulty and variety of types of written narrations. In Creation to Christ, students use guided questions to help aid their writing of a general written narration. Students in World Geography must include the main topic, main ideas with supporting details, author’s style, and a strong opening and closing sentence. U.S. History II students must include all of these elements.  But, they must also list 5 topics from the given options in the guide.  They must also include names, dates, and events pertinent to the reading.

Finally, to conclude this written narration From Our House to Yours…

Many of us homeschool moms did not grow up in schools that used written narrations as a form of assessment. Hopefully, this shows what written narrations are, what written narrations look like at different ages, and what improvements to expect!

In Christ,

Julie

Sharing is caring!

Author: Julie Grosz, M.Ed.

Some passions of mine are homeschooling with Heart of Dakota, cooking with All Recipes, reading Jane Austen in a bubble bath, singing along with lyrics that strike a chord, making family traditions, creating organization out of disorganization, and writing words - in emails, posts, and books - that glorify God. I'm a teacher and an editor by trade. Here's a quick rundown of my numbers... 24 years of teaching (7 public school, 17 homeschool), 6 years of college (4 undergrad, 2 graduate for my masters in education), 18 years of working for HOD, 48 years old, 24 years of marriage, 3 sons who are 19, 16, and 12 - and I believe that should about 'sum' it up! You can view my blog here - https://my3sons-julie.blogspot.com/

7 thoughts on “Written Narrations As a Homeschool Form of Assessment”

  1. Thank you for the specifics you provided in your article. I enjoy these short blogs you offer. They’re always brief but very helpful, allowing me to grab a nugget of truth but still move on with my day as a busy mom. We’re in the beginning stages of becoming acquainted with HOD, and so my question is this. Do you have students do written narrations in the lower levels, such as Preparing.
    In His love,
    Krista

    1. I’m so glad to hear our blog is giving some help and encouragement – that is our prayer! Written narrations actually begin in Preparing Hearts for His Glory. They start at a length of 1-3 sentences, are based on short history readings, are in response to the parent doing the history reading, have guided questions to be discussed orally with the parent after the reading, and begin with the student dictating to the parent what should be written – with the parent writing the 1-3 sentences on a markerboard or piece of paper – and with the student finally copying the 1-3 sentences on notebook paper. This is a recipe for success! There is no way the student can mess this up, really!

      I like this beginning approach to written narrations, as its success is not prohibited by the student’s reading ability, as the parent does the reading. Nor is the student’s thought process interrupted by writing ability, as he/she conveys his/her ideas first orally with the parent doing the writing. Copywork of the written narration ensures the student can focus first on getting their ideas down on paper prior to having to do a lot of editing. This is especially helpful if you have a bit of a perfectionist on your hands! Kiddos that are perfectionists will often choose easier to spell words and very short sentences if left to write a narration without the parent. They’d rather spell everything right and get all of grammar/usage right, than share their ideas in detail and risk making errors. Thanks so much for asking this question, Krista, and I hope you enjoy PHFHG’s written narrations!!!

      In Christ,
      Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.