Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Small Moment Writing

Today we worked on small moments in writing (narratives). So I thought I'd go ahead and write a smallish blog post about it. First, let me share a small moment with you.

The Day Technology Hated Me.
Mrs. Stewart came to school the first day after Spring Break. 
 She and the other teachers were told that the internet was down and the one
 and only copy machine in the building was broken. The Promethean Board
was also not working and nobody knew why. Mrs. Stewart did not have copies 
ready and prepped because she went to Texas two days before Spring Break. For 
a minute she thought she could be in trouble! Instead she dug out some new 
crayons and  jumped right into a writing lesson!

***Before I write any further I feel the need to tell you that days like today when I forget to take my real camera, everything looks like it's been photographed in a dungeon. My room only has two teeny tiny windows. So the lack of natural light makes it hard to get good pictures without a good camera.  I digress. Just know, I wish they were better for you!!***

Whenever we're working on small moment (aka- narrative) writing, I really do like for my kids to focus on their drawing first. The goal is for them to try and recall as many details as possible. We've had many conversations over the course of the year about how details make our pictures more colorful and our writing more interesting! That's why details is written in rainbow letters on the anchor chart below. I think that helps them reference in their mind why we want to include details.

For yesterday's impromptu review of small moment writing,  I drew my own detailed picture from a small moment during my Spring Break. (I know you're asking yourself, "Why didn't you become an art teacher..?" I kid. I kid. )

I showed the class my drawing and gave them a chance to talk with an elbow buddy about the details they noticed. After that, a few of them came up to record some of the things we all "spied" in the drawing. I told them I'd be sure to include the details they were pointing out in my writing. From there I asked if anyone thought they could make up a story about what was happening in the picture based on the things we observed. A few of them gave me their best spin! Loved it!!


Then I wrote my small moment in front of them. Anytime we do a shared writing, I focus on saying out loud the things I'm thinking as I write. Things lie... "Neon Splash Dash, I know that was the name of the race, so I better write that in capitals." "We ran to music, but I think it's important to share that the music was loud. Yes, I want to add that adjective in there." I think that was the part that I struggled with the most when I first started doing shared writing. Remembering to say what I was thinking out loud.

 My class actually knew I was going to Texas to do this race because I told them about it before I left. However, they we highly amused by some of the details I shared with them. When I was done we went back and looked for a good adjective in my writing and a volunteer came up to circle it. Then we decided I could probably add another adjective or two to my writing. After reading the revised story one of them asked me, "What did you do after the race when you were all covered in paint?" Someone inferred I took a shower. Someone else insured I jumped into a river since we were outside. Ha! I told them that what I did after the race would be an excellent detail to conclude my small moment with. Then I wrote it in with a blue marker to show the revision. They were quite happy for me and my chocolate milkshake!

Before I turned them loose to do their own small moment draw and write, I showed them the OTHER story I was thinking about sharing with them. Not the detailed small moment, just a quick retell of everything I did over break. After we read this story, I asked them which one they though was more interesting. All but one kiddo agreed that it was more interesting to hear lots of details about one thing I did than no details about a bunch of things.

Then I handed out some brand new crayon boxes - kind of a big deal! And they went to work. I was REALLY hoping my students would follow my lead and put lots of details into their drawings. They did not disappoint!! The following are three first grade samples of their drawings and first sloppy copy drafts. Yes there are mis-spellings, and letter reversals, etc. They didn't get a graphic organizer, or handwriting paper because the copier was down. This is all pre-conference, pre- editing, pre anything with the teacher. For this writing assignment, I wanted their focus to be on sharing details about their small moments. Not a rundown of everything they did over Spring Break. I'd say they did just that!!

On Spring Break I went to Jax to see the baby birds. The ducks had black spots. 
The turkey had nothing. I went with my brother and sister. We got to buy candy.

Over Spring Break I went to miniature golf and I went there with my best friend Rhazel. 
We also played arcade games. At the end we bought stuff with out tickets. I got 94 tickets.

I went to the park with my parents to do a picnic. We brought drinks and food. I drank apple juice and I ate a sandwich. 
{This kiddo spoke minimal English at the beginning of the year. SO PROUD!!}

My class will continue to practice their small moment writing this month in the writing center with the Narrative prompt cards from my April Common Core Writing Galore pack. 

This is how I Kept Calm and Forget The Technology Wasn't On!!! ;)


  1. Awesome post, thanks for sharing this! (@BrannanKJ from Instagram)

    You're So Sharp!

  2. I love this! That race was a blast! :)

  3. And what a memorable day, you can feel all the things that have meaning and share what you have experienced.
    friv 4

  4. LOVE this! The kids did beautifully....as did their teacher. :)