Every student has a story waiting to be unlocked. Our "Explode the Moment" Personal Narrative Writing Project contains the mentor texts and writing tool instructions your students need to find their stories in the everyday moments of their lives.

"What I love best about this narrative unit, is that it includes the essential elements of effective writing pedagogy: quickwrites, mentor texts, writing as a process, and student autonomy. Everyone has a story to tell--you and your students can begin writing yours now. What are you waiting for?"


NBCT, PhD Candidate, University of Oklahoma

A Complete, Virtual Learning Ready Writing Unit Plan!


We provide three main mentor texts: Two were written by high school students and one by reThink ELA founder Michelle Waters. All three feature personal narratives relevant to middle and high school students.

...I think [personal narrative] is something students really struggle with for various reasons. Some are afraid to share their thoughts and others don't know how to write their ideas in a compelling way. The most important things I got from [this unit] were specific ideas for narrative prompts and ways to turn quickwrites into larger pieces of writing. The specific examples of mentor texts from both yourself and your student really illustrated for me what a simple quickwrite prompt can do to engage students into telling their stories. I also liked that you show/discuss the writing process with your students as you write so they can see the stages in action. Thanks, as always, for the great learning experience!


Teacher, Cherokee High School


Our included writing prompt is both universal enough that everyone will have more than one specific answer and open enough for interpretation that students will be able use it to craft a narrative from their own lives.


While writing is often a solitary process, we understand that student writers need guidance from each other and their teacher to produce their best writing. It's a collaborative process.


"...Becoming a Writing Teacher"

English teacher Michelle Boyd Waters writes about how a long walk down a sidewalk on a hot August day in middle school changed her life.

Jordan Womack

"Best Day Ever"

High school freshman Jordan Womack starts the year at a new school and chronicles his journey to finding something completely unexpected.

"The Best $96 I Ever Spent...”

High school senior Katherine Oung writes about how food equals love in her family and how one coffee maker helped her build a relationship with her mother.

Engage with a Quickwrite

In lesson 1, students work with a prompt and collaborate with their peers to develop a story they want to share. This quickwrite will serve as a foundation for the unit.

Explore Mentor Texts

In lesson 2, students read three or more mentor texts for inspiration in where they can take their own writing.

Explain Narrative Structure

In lesson 3, students learn narrative structure concepts and apply them to mentor texts and their own writing.

Elaborate on Your Story

In lesson 4, students learn how to "explode the moment" in their own writing to help readers experience the story.

Evaluate & Revise Your Narrative

In lesson 5, students collaborate with writing partners to peer review each others work and implement suggested changes.


Google Classroom ready. Download Instantly. Self-directed or teacher-led.

The Oklahoma author of “Best Day Ever” earns 50% of these proceeds
50% of proceeds support reThink ELA's mission to advocate for student voice