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June 2024 - Year 26 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

Formative Assessment When Writing a Narrative

Janja Uhernik is a teacher at Primary school Podbocje, Slovenia. Currently she teaches English in 1st and 2nd grade and some subjects in 5th grade. She enjoys working with young learners. She has already written some articles about teaching English to young learners for some other foreign magazines. She is a member of IATEFL Slovenia. E-mail:


What is formative assessment?

»Formative assessment involves a continuous way of checks and balances in the teaching learning processes. The method allows teachers to frequently check their learners' progress and the effectiveness of their own practice.«

H. Kitchen, G. Bethell E. Fordham, 

K. Henderson, R. Li Richard (2019).

In other words teachers monitor the progress of students and provide them easier guidance on how to achieve the goal.


How did I use formative assessment in the classroom while writing a narrative essay?

I often use formative monitoring in my lessons. It turned out to be an example of good practice in the process of writing a narrative essay.

First of all, students learned what a narrative essay is. I told them that you write about a past personal experience in such an essay. At the beginning, you should choose a title, as interesting as possible in order to enhance the reader. We talked about the length of an essay. It should have at least three paragraphs.

Then we focused on the introduction. It should be written in the way to pique reader`s interest. We said that in this part we have to write about what happened to us, when and where. Together we wrote the criteria for a good introduction on the board. When doing this, I divided students into groups. I gave to each of them four examples of introductions, written by 5th graders. They had to read them and then evaluate them according to the criteria we have set. For each introduction, they had to write down what was good about it, or where should the writer improve his writing. The groups then presented their findings. I saw the progress of the students in their knowledge of the criteria. They quickly found out which introduction was the best and which was the worst. They also said what each person should improve in their introduction.

Secondly, we talked about the content of the main part of narrative essay. We said that the plot should be very interesting. It should describe what happened first, how it got complicated and how it unravelled. These were also the evaluation criteria for the body of the essay. Again, we wrote the criteria on the board as we did for the introduction. Again, the groups read the plots of four different narrative essays and evaluated them. For each one they had to give a justification. The students did that very well.

Finally, we discussed the content of the conclusion. I told the students that in it they should describe how the event ended and what they have learned from it. Again, we wrote the criteria on the board. We repeated the evaluation process in groups, and again they were very successful. They gave very constructive criticism.

In the next lesson, we repeated which the parts of the narrative essay are and what they contain. Then they read different parts of the narrative essays. After that they had to determine whether they represented an introduction, a body, or a conclusion. In order to see if the students got it right, we checked their answers with the game. I wrote and drew the rules for it on the board. If it was a passage from the introduction, the students squatted, if it was from the body, they jumped, and if it was from the conclusion, they spun. As a teacher, I immediately got feedback on the knowledge of each student by this game. I found out that most students did not have problems with the recognition of parts of the narrative essay. Then we read one whole essay in the exercise book and discussed it. We found out that it did not make sense because the person that wrote it did not write about the plot in a meaningful sequence. Each of the students had to think about the right sequence. Then we talked about it together and put the main part of the essay in the right order. In this way, the students learned that the narrative essay should be structured in a chronical manner. Events should be ordered in the time that they occurred. We also read the essay without a conclusion and evaluated it. They quickly figured out why it was not written correctly. We also talked about the length of each part of the essay.

After all these steps, students wrote their first narrative essay. Before writing it, they firstly had to pick out an interesting topic. Secondly, they had to write a mind map in which they briefly string together the entire event. Thirdly, they had to sequence the events that occurred in the right order. Before they started writing the 1st version of the essay, we supplemented the criteria that we had already written on the board in the previous school lesson. The students set the following criteria: grammatically correct writing (capital letters, commas, final punctuation marks), avoiding the repetition of words, choosing an interesting event, inclusion of emotions and feelings.

In the 3rd lesson, the students started writing the 1st version of the essay. After they wrote it, they read it again, corrected mistakes they made in it. Then they gave their essay to a classmate, who evaluated it according to the given criteria. The writer of the text was also informed of the findings. Each writer also self-assessed according to the given criteria. After all these steps, I corrected the essay, and under it I wrote both good comments and opportunities for improvement as well. This way I received feedback on whether any additional clarification was needed regarding the writing. I also discussed the writing with each of the students. Most of them, assessed themselves realistically, but some of them were very critical of themselves and therefore did not evaluate themselves realistically. On the other hand, there were some students who overestimated their work and needed more explanations why certain parts of the text needed to be improved according to the given criteria. With this, as a teacher, I got some guidelines for working with certain students, and they themselves found out what their strong and weak areas are when writing essays.

In the end, the students had to correct the essay following all the instructions that they were given. Most of them were very successful in this because the progress was visible. Formative monitoring proved to be very successful in the process of essay writing in this way, as progress of the students was visible. Students learned about self-evaluation and critical thinking. 


Resources, 12. 11. 2023


Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

  • An Idea Lost and Found
    Mario Rinvolucri, founding father of PILGRIMS, UK

  • Formative Assessment When Writing a Narrative
    Janja Uhernik, Slovenia

  • Idioms for Losing Weight
    Hania (Hanna) Kryszewska, Poland

  • Is it Reigning Cats and Dogs? Or Are You Just Pleased to Cliché?
    Paul Davis, late PILGRIMS trainer, UK

  • Keep Calm and Maintain Your Sanity
    Vesna Gros, Slovenia

  • Revisiting Creative Resources
    Judit Fehér, Hungary

  • Teaching with Instrumental Music for Motivation, Mindfulness, Integrated Skills, and Creativity
    Magda Zamorska, Poland