5 Tips for Stretching those Small Moments

1.  Model, model, model!  I am constantly modeling.  Before each lesson, or at least most of my lessons, I model writing on the Smartboard.   I do so by writing about my own small moments, my ride in the car with my sons, "the pride I felt when I saw Joey(insert student) writing all by himself for the first time," etc.  I show my students how I revise as I go.  I let them observe my passion and excitement about my story.  I might add sparkle words, change words to better words such as scurried versus ran, or add what I might be feeling.  I might add sound effects or words I might say.  I think aloud A LOT!  A model of mine might go something like this:

***It was a bright and sunny fall morning in Room 10.  As I gazed out the window I could see the students rushing in from the bus.  As I was watching the flurry of students, I became a little distracted.  From the corner of my eye, I spotted one of my students enter the classroom.  It was Emma.  Emma quickly walked over to her desk, immediately pulled her book from her bin and and began quietly reading.  As she did, she didn't even notice that I was standing there watching her.  She was doing what good readers do.  As she read, I felt my face become warm and a smile spread from one ear to the other.  My heart started to pitter patter as it filled with pride.... as I write, I invite the students to comment on what makes my small moment sparkle, or come alive.  Which words did I use that made my story great?  They might comment on my heart going pitter patter or the way I used words like "gazed" or "immediately." 

At this point, I would ask the students to help me continue writing.  As the unit moves on, I would stop earlier and have the students continue my story after only a few sentences. 

2.  Use mentor texts.  Read from mentor texts and as you do, write down words and phrases you like.  Say things like, “I might want to use these words in my own small moments stories.” Jot it down on a sticky note right then and there. As you are reading from a mentor text, go back and read a great sentence a few times, commenting on how you like what the author did.  

Some of My favorite Small Moments Texts:
The Best Story
The Relatives Came
Owl Moon
The Snowy Day
When I Was Young in the Mountains
A Whistle For Willie

3.  Use student work.  Before and after each writing lesson, I read samples of student work that I think exemplify stretching a moment or contain strong elements. You might start with your strongest writers, but you will find that as you go, you will be using samples of ALL of your students to model good writing.  I love when I find a struggling writer’s work to be model worthy and that happens more often than you think.  The pride felt by these students when this happens makes my day!!  Do this BEFORE and AFTER EVERY writing lesson.

4.  Ask questions to guide your writers such as "What did it look like?" "What did you smell, hear, feel?"  "What were you thinking to yourself when that happened?  Write it”  Also, don’t be afraid to give your writers the right words when they are struggling.  They will learn to use phrases and words you give them over and over if it makes their stories stronger.  As writers are writing, you should be conferring.  Walk around with a pack of sticky notes to guide your writers with suggestions such as "show not tell how you felt at that moment," or "I see you used the word went, maybe we can use a stronger word." 

5. Students need reminders, checklists, and reminders to look at the checklists and after that, more reminders!  The checklist should not only have the talking point, i.e. "paint a picture" or "add sparkle words," but it should provide clear examples of exactly what that means.  I give the students examples either via modeling or words on the easel, as they are writing.  I usually have these points on anchor charts and checklists.  Make sure to include only a small number of elements on the checklist.  I would give my students a checklist, but each day, we would focus on only one element, for example, painting  a picture, and on another day, adding our 5 senses.  I have created checklists containing all of the elements and these can be found in my small moments packet. However, I introduced only one a day.  :) .  Check out my small moments writing unit at TpT!.  Click the link picture below.  

Small Moment Writing 2nd Grade 3rd Grade Personal Narratives

Last...HAVE FUN!!  Small Moments make the world go 'round and teaching students how to embrace their stories and make their stories come alive is one of my all time favorite things to do!  I hope you make some fabulous small moments today. 

Adjective Iphones - We did these with nouns and adjectives and my kids LOVED it!!

You can have students write common nouns on cards and proper nouns underneath or as we did in this photo, write nouns on cards, and adjectives underneath.  
Print out this sheet.  Then write your nouns on the colored cards.
Then, glue onto the phone, only the lid of the card, and write adjectives underneath.