When Meg was working on her personal narrative, she started by making a various timelines of how her story could go. Eventually she settled on this one:
Girl Comes In
Once she had her timeline, she just typed right into it, stretching each part out with lots of detail (dialogue, actions, thinking, and images).
Later, she can take the headings left over from her timeline right out to create a seamless story.
This is the same process that lots of students can benefit from when planning a story, then drafting.
We drove to the middle of no where and turned left. We continued driving down an uneven, bumpy, dirt road, slowly, looking at each other and the surrounding dilapidated properties. This could not be right. I got an increasingly anxious feeling until it came into view; a green mobile home missing a driveway, but with tire tracks marking where a driveway should be. A metal swingset sat crooked in the backyard, and two giant dogs barked from their post. We pulled in and looked at each other, “Ready”? I asked Jordan.
Tentatively, we stepped over puddles of mud and avoided broken sticks and toys. As we were about to knock, the storm door swung open. A small, shirtless boy about 6 years old stood, holding the teeniest black kitten I have ever seen. “You can’t have this one, he’s mine.” I put on my best first-grade-teacher smile and replied, “Oh! Of course we won’t choose yours!” A woman, underdressed for the middle of November; barefoot, in white-washed, bellbottom jeans, arms coated in ink from tattoos, and a black spaghetti strapped tanktop rolled her eyes behind him. “That’s NOT his,” she proclaimed. They’re in the back room. Head out back.”
We continued through the narrow hallway, if you could call a three-foot step a hallway, and peered into the back room. It was set, lower, than the rest of the house like it had been an afterthought or once a deck or three-season porch. A recliner was shoved in the closest corner and my heart melted when I looked closer. Nine kittens were rolled up like coiled snakes in a pile. One on top of the other- their mother at the center- all sound asleep. Oh my gosh, I thought. This is just. too. cute. I looked over at Jordan with fear and hesitation, all of my unasked questions obvious on my face and in my eyes. “Can we pick them up? How can we take them from their mom? How do we know which one to choose? What if we make a bad choice?”
“It’s okay.” Jordan said, breaking the silence, “pick one up.” We each bent over the chair, allowing the mom to smell us and patting her, saying, “Good mom, aren’t you? Ahhh, such a pretty girl.” We scooped a kitten up in our hands and pulled each one close to our hearts.
“MMEW!” I shot a look over to Jordan. “Jord! It misses it’s mom! Put it back, quick!” The kitten Jordan was holding was wide awake and fighting to get down. He bent over and put the kitten on the floor. The kitten, having the freedom to move on its own, strutted immediately over to another kitten that had woken up in the commotion, and batted its head. “That’s the one!” Jordan said, “I want a kitten that’s playful. This one is mine.” That was too easy, I thought. I looked longingly at the other eight kittens. How would I ever decide?
Girl Comes In
A noise in the doorway caused us to turn. A young girl approached and walked over to the chair. “What was she doing?” I wondered. I looked to Jordan to ask the same question with my eyes. “WHAT IS SHE DOING!?!?” I screamed, my wide, blue eyes wrought with concern. He just shrugged. “Excuse me,” I asked, “are you here to choose a kitten?” She nodded, “uh huh.” Ugh. My heart dropped. What if she chose the kitten that I wanted? The pressure was on. I ping-pong-balled my eyes from kitten to kitten trying to best choose the one for me. Should I take the small, fluffy white one? Should I take the medium, quiet, grey one? Should I take the runt of the litter? Should I take one that seems to get along with the kitten Jordan had already chosen? I just didn’t know. Luckily, the girl made her choice very quickly and walked out of the room. Phew! And she didn’t take one that I was considering.
Jordan looked at me, “Meg. We’ve been here for 35 minutes. I’m sure this family would like to have dinner and get us out of their house.” I turned to him, anguished. “HOW. AM. I. GOING. TO. DECIDE? I. CANNOT. DECIDE. YOU choose FOR me.” Jordan tried not to roll his eyes, “Meg, I’ve chosen one. You choose. It will be okay, I promise.”
I glanced from kitten to kitten again and I came back to the first one I picked up. It seemed friendly. It curled into me when I picked it up. It was soft. It was striped like a tiger. It had a cute face. (Who am I kidding? ALL kittens have cute faces.) This decision wasn’t as clear as I had thought it was going to be, but I had made my decision. “This is the one, “ I sighed, unconvinced. “You’re the one, little kitty,” I whispered in its ear.
Jordan handed me his kitten, fished his wallet out of his back, right pocket and handed the woman $20. I couldn’t believe it, two squirmy, beautiful, perfect, cute kittens for $20. This. Was. soexciting. We walked to the car and sat, looking at each other. “Should we put them in the carrier we brought?” “mew.” “No,” said Jord, “Let them sit (mew!) with you.. “ “MEW!”. I settled them both in my lap, stroked their soft fur and whispered, “Don’t be scared, you’re going to love your new home.” They continued to mew, sounding just like kittens who were looking for their mom. I felt terribly. How could we take them? Will they miss their mom? I wondered. They were absolutely discontent. They were getting increasingly noisy and started to climb up my sweater to my shoulder. “Jord! I don’t think this is safe!” I extracted each of their claws from my wool sweater, deposited them quickly into the pet carrier, and zipped them in. I kept my hands on the screened part in hopes of comforting them, and sat back in the seat. I looked over at Jordan and said, “Okay… who’s who?” Jordan looked at the cats, carefully and mulled over the names we had already selected for our new family members. “Mine is Bentley, “ he said, “Yours is Royce.” I smiled and thought, “Now, we just have to wait until their first vet visit to find out if they are girls or boys.”