As we continue to explore and discuss our year long social studies theme, Families & Homes, many conversations around Holiday traditions are coming up. In writing, we have been focusing on “small moments”, writing with focus, detail and dialogue. Since I attended the Teacher’s College Writing Institute in the summer, I’ve been keen on implementing the new writing tools I learned.
This is the abbreviated version of the “small moment” piece I modeled.
It was raining cats and dogs and I could barely see the road.
I gripped the steering wheel and I felt my heart pounding all
the way to my fingertips. I said to my sister, “Poka, I’m
really nervous driving in this rain. What should we do?”
Finally it stopped raining cats and dogs. It was sprinkling now
and I could see the road ahead. I felt relieved. I even started
to get excited about the many adventures we were
going to have in San Francisco!
The kids laughed when I wrote “cats and dogs”. I told them it was a figure of speech and I plan on having a mini lesson on that sometime in the future. I explained that when writing a “small moment” we focus on just one event and expand on it. I told my students that I could write about all the things that I did in San Francisco: the car trip, Golden Gate Park, my aunt’s house, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, the different restaurants, visiting with my cousins…
However, I was only writing about the moment when it rained hard as I drove to San Francisco. The kids asked, “How long was that?” I said, “It rained for twenty minutes but it felt like an eternity for me because I was so nervous.”
Most of my students wrote about a small moment during the Thanksgiving break. As I sip my coffee on this Saturday morning while reading their writing pieces I am all smiles. Each and every student is making progress.
This kinder friend told me how he was jumping so high on the trampoline his hair was escaping him. “My mom kept telling me to stop jumping on the trampoline because she was scared I was going to fall but I didn’t.”
This first grader asked how to spell Thanksgiving. “Use your brave spelling. Say the word slowly and write the sounds you hear.” FAXGIVEN – fantastic!
This kinder friend surprised me! “I went to my grandma’s hotel.”
This first grader added many details in her small moment writing piece. On her way back from New York, they had to wait in the airplane for two hours. Prior to writing I asked my students to tell me about their pictures. She shared that it was really boring but she kept herself busy by reading and drawing. She asked me, “What do you call the person who fixes airplanes?” I suggested, “Airplane mechanic and aircraft technician.” It was great to see that when she wrote she used “airplane mkanik” – brave spelling at its best! She also incorporated “I felt relieved” from the writing piece I modeled.
Our little writers have become very comfortable and confident as they write. I wish I could video them to show how focused they are during writer’s workshop. After all these years teaching, observing their writing progress always feels like magic!
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ― Roald Dahl