Focus a narrative essay is written through a writer’s own insights and observations about his or her life. This type of writing draws upon personal experiences and imaginative thinking

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EA 1.1: Personal Narrative Essay


A narrative essay is written through a writer’s own insights and observations about his or her life. This type of writing draws upon personal experiences and imaginative thinking. It provides rich opportunities for recollection of past, present, or imagined experiences and thoughtful reflection on these experiences.


Write a personal narrative that:

    • Describes a significant coming of age incident and your response to it

    • Reflect on the significance of the incident and its importance to you

    • Uses a combination of diction, syntax, tone, and vivid imagery to clearly capture your voice


A personal narrative is personal in which the writer reflects on the significance of an incident in her or her life, the lessons learned, and a reflection.

The essay is structured into three parts:

    • Incident: a description of the incident or situation in writer’s life

    • Response: the writer’s initial/immediate thoughts and feelings in response to the situation

    • Reflection: the writer’s reflection on the incident, after some time has passed, and the writer is able to thoughtfully consider the importance of the situation to his or her life.


  1. Introductory paragraph (with strong lead, builds background information important for understanding incident)

  2. 2-3 Body paragraphs (that identify the incident and your response to the incident)

  3. Concluding paragraph/Reflection (brings closure to incident/says what you learned or took away from coming of age event)

  4. Typed, double spaced

  5. Times New Roman, size 12 font (do not add any other fancy designs)


On the following page, we have another example of a reflective/personal narrative. As we read, I want you to fill in the following graphic organizer labeling the three parts of a personal reflection.




"Why couldn't I have been named Ashley?"
By Imma Achilike
Naaman Forest High School
Garland, Texas

"Ashley!" exclaimed Mrs. Renfro, and simultaneously three heads whipped around at attention towards the perturbed teacher. At the same time, all three Ashleys proudly replied, "Yes, ma'am?"

When I was a fourth grader, I remember sitting in class that day just before the bell rang for dismissal. I remember thinking of all the names in the world, how I could have possible been stuck with such an alien one. I thought about all the popular kids in the class. I figured that I wasn't popular because of my weird name. I put some things together in my mind and came up with a plausible equation: COOL NAME = POPULARITY. The dismissal bell rang. As I mechanically walked out to catch my ride, I thought to myself, "Why couldn't I have been named Ashley?"

I was born, on July 7th, 1986, at Parkland Hospital of Dallas, Texas. I was the first American-born Nigerian in both of my parents' families. I was my parents' first joy, and in their joy, they gave me the name that would haunt me for the rest of my life, Immaculeta Uzoma Achilike.

The first time I actually became aware of my name was on the first day of first grade. I went to school loaded with all my school supplies and excited to see all of my old kindergarten friends. I couldn't wait to see who my new teacher was. As I walked into the classroom, all my friends pushed up to me, cooing my name: "Imma, Imma I missed you so much." The teacher walked in with the attendance sheet. She told everyone to quiet down so she could call roll. Before she started, she said something I thought would have never applied to me. She said, "Before I call roll, I apologize if I mispronounce anyone's name." with a very apologetic look on her face. She looked down at the attendance sheet, paused for a minute, and then looked up with an extremely puzzled look on her face. I remember thinking that there was probably some weird name before mine; although, my name was always the first name to be called in kindergarten. Suddenly, my palms started sweating and then she began to hopelessly stutter my name, "Im-Immaculet Arch-liki, I mean, Achei..." Here, I interrupted. My ears burned with embarrassment and droplets of perspiration formed on my nose. "Did I say it right?" she said with the same apologetic look on her face. Before I responded, the laughs that the other kids in class had been holding back suddenly exploded, like a volatile vial of glycerin, into peals of laughter. One kid thought it was so funny his chubby face started turning red and I could see a tear gradually making its way down his face. I found myself wishing I could sink into the ground and never come back, I hated being the laughing stock.

I never really recovered from the shock of that day. From that day forward, the first day of school was always my most feared day. I didn't know what to do; all I could do was to tell my teachers, "I go by Imma."

I felt so alone when all the other girls in my class had sparkly, pink pencils with their names printed on them. You know, the ones they sell in the stores along with name-embossed sharpeners, rulers and pencil pouches. Every year I search through and rummaged around that rack at the store, but I could never find a pencil with my name on it.

The summer of my seventh-grade year, my family and I took a vacation to our "home" in Nigeria, where my parents were born. My cousin and I were playing cards, talking girl talk, and relating our most embarrassing moments. Each tried to see whose story could top whose. I told one story of how I wet the bed at a sleepover, and she told me how she had farted in class during a test. That was a hoot. Then, I told her the story of how I was laughed at because of my weird name. I thought it was pretty funny, but she didn't laugh. She had the most serious look on her face, then she asked me, "Immaculeta Uzoma Achilike, do you know what your name means?" I shook my head at her and that's when she started laughing. I thought she was making fun of me, and as I started to leave she said: 'Immaculeta means 'purity', 'Uzoma means 'the good road' and...". Having heard her words, I stopped walking away and turned around in amazement. What does Achilike mean?" I asked. After a long pause she calmly said, "Archilike means 'to rule without force". I was astonished and pleased. I never knew what my name meant.

My name is Immaculeta Uzoma Achilike. I am the daughter of first-generation Nigerian immigrants. I am the daughter of hardworking and brave parents. My name means "to rule without force." My grandfather was a wealthy man of generous character. When I say my name in Nigeria, people know me as the granddaughter of a wealthy man of generous character. They know me by my name. There my name is not embossed on any pencil or vanity plate. It is etched in the minds of the people.

My name is Immaculeta Uzoma Achilike.

Reading Questions

1. Notice that the writer opens her personal narrative with dialogue and action, saving exposition, or background information, for the third paragraph. Why do you think she made this choice?

2. In the fourth paragraph, the writer begins describing the first time her name became significant to her. Reread paragraphs 4 – 7 and color-code the incident and the writer’s response to it.

3. In the seventh paragraph, the writer describes a third incident with her name. Mark the text to identify the incident and her response to it.

4. In the last two paragraphs, the writer reflects on her name. What is her tone? How can you tell? Use a third color to code the reflection; remember to highlight or underline the word Reflection on the graphic organizer with the color that you are using as your color-coding key.

5. How is this personal narrative an example of a coming of age moment? Use textual evidence to support your answer.


Identify three incidents/situations from your past that lead into the beginnings of your coming of age. Think about the specific details surrounding the incidents, and the “lessons” you learned as a result. Describe each incident in detail.

Incident 1

Incident 2

Incident 3

Next, think about your response to the situation. How did you react? How did other react? Why was this a significant moment at that age for you?

Response 1

Response 2

Response 3

Finally, looking back as you are now older, consider why this moment was so important in your coming of age experiences. Think back and reflect on the significance of this moment.

Reflection 1

Reflection 2

Reflection 3

Name:____________________________________ Total Score: _____/100
EA 1.1 Personal Narrative Rubric

Scoring Criteria




Development of Ideas

25 points

The composition

--Recreates a coming of age incident with well-chosen details and a reflective point of view

-Uses a variety of narrative techniques such as dialogue to effectively develop experiences, events, and characters

--Includes insightful reflective commentary on the significance of the event

The composition

--Recreates a coming of age incident with relevant details and a reflective point of view

--Uses narrative techniques to develop experiences, events, and/or characters

--Reflects on the importance of the incident

The composition

--Recreates an incident using irrelevant, minimal, and/or repetitive details and an unclear point of view

--Contains little or no use of narrative techniques

--Contains limited reflection on the importance of the incident

Organizational Structure

25 points

The composition

--provides an engaging and/or creative beginning that introduces the narrator’s problem or situation

--uses transitions and a variety of techniques (e.g., a dominant image) to skillfully guide the reader

--concludes with an ending that naturally follows from and insightfully reflects on what is experienced and resolved over the course of the narrative.

The composition

--provides a beginning that introduces the problem or situation and a narrator and/or characters

--uses transitions and

techniques to create a

smooth progression of events

--concludes with an ending that follows from and reflects on what is experienced.

The composition

--contains a beginning that is unclear and/or does not directly relate to the story

--presents disconnected ideas and limited use of transitions and techniques

--contains an ending that is disconnected, unfocused, and/or non-reflective.

Use of Language

25 points

The composition

--uses precise diction, varied syntax, sensory detail, and figurative language to create a distinctive voice

--uses effective language to accurately describe and reflect on the significant incident

The composition

--uses diction, syntax, sensory

detail, and figurative

language purposefully

--uses language that describes and reflects on the incident

The composition

--uses diction, sensory detail, and figurative language ineffectively or not at all

--contains an unclear or

inconsistent tone

--language is not effective in describing and reflecting upon the incident

Grammar and Conventions
25 points

--Demonstrates technical command of conventions of standard English.

--MLA Format: Times New Roman, Size 12, Double Spaced, 1 inch margins, correct heading, no space between paragraphs

--demonstrates general command of conventions; minor errors in punctuation, grammar, capitalization, or spelling do not interfere with meaning.

--missing one or more elements of MLA

--demonstrates limited command of conventions; errors in grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and/or spelling interfere with meaning.

--does not properly follow MLA formatting

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