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An Ah-ha Writing Moment

My students and I have been working on writing narratives for the past six weeks now.  It has been a slow but steady process, and I’m proud of how far they’ve come (Remember, I have the inclusion room this year.  They have come a long way in writing.).  We’ve been working on writing a solid beginning, middle, and end to our stories.  I would say 95% of my students have mastered this.

My next step was to move from three sentence stories (one sentence for the beginning, one for the middle, and one for the end) to stories with details and purpose.  This past week, we started our “Small Moments” unit for narratives.  We read the following books and discussed how the authors zoomed in on one small moment, adding lots of details to their story.  These examples and units came from a Lucy Calkins book that a wonderful teacher in my building gave me.  

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We used these mentor texts to talk about moving away from a “big” story to a “small moment” in our lives.  First, I took one of my students’ narratives and shared it with the class, celebrating the fact that Reagan had a solid beginning, middle, and end. 

Then, I had the students ask him questions they were still wondering about after they read his story.  This part of the lesson was wonderful! My students asked questions such as: What is your cat’s name? Where were you walking to? How did your cat run away from you? What did you say to your cat when it ran away? How did you finally catch your cat?  I recorded all of Regan’s answers on post-it notes below each part of his story. 

We talked about how great Reagan’s story was and how fabulous it will be when all of the details are included so that we can really see what is happening in his story and feel like we are there.  Until now, Reagan has only written 3 sentence stories for me.  
Take a look at his first revision…. 🙂

I’m not sure if you can see it very well, but he is on page 3 of his story and has much more to add on Monday. 
After giving all of the students an opportunity to start a new “Small Moment” story, we got into partners and shared our writing with one another.  Each student asked their partner questions they were still wanting to know about their story.  The students also had to tell their partner what they were going to add to their story next time, touching each page as they shared.

 If you are looking for ways to stretch your students’ writing, I really suggest writing partners.  It is a great way for the students to understand what they could add to their story to make it more detailed. Having another student ask questions about their story gives the students a feeling of ownership and helps them help one another – and have fun doing it! 🙂  Happy Writing! 

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