Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Writer's Workshop this week!

So, last week was all about setting up expectations and routines for Writer's Workshop. We made an anchor chart, we talked about the writing process, we thought up a go-to list of ideas with my 50 things I love sheet, and most importantly I introduced the concept of my VOICES board.

One of my favorite examples to model is
when I talk about the big idea of my
marriage. I could write a lot about that. But
a great example of a small moment is that
moment when I saw Killer B in her wedding
dress for the first time walking down the
aisle. Even the boys are interested when I
vividly describe that moment to the class.
This week I focused in on the VOICES strategy "Choose a narrow topic" by talking with my kids about small moments. I was first introduced to the idea of teaching kids about small moments when I read Lucy Calkins' set of writing books a few years ago. Ever since then I've always launched my writer's workshop by modeling some small moment stories of my own, and then having the kids think up some ideas and begin writing their own small moments. I don't spend nearly the time Lucy does on this though (I think she does it for months!)

I remembered seeing a cute little graphic organizer on Ideas by Jivey where she talked about Watermelon ideas and Seed ideas. I got it all ready to go, went to my school copier with it last week...and the copier was broken! Aargh! It's STILL broken! So I just made my kids draw their watermelons! Haha.

Before that I read them a perfect example of a small moments story in the form of the ever-popular "The Paperboy." If you haven't read it, it's a simple story about a boy getting up to do his paper route, but it seems like so much more because of the author's craft. I make up a different version of the story where we glance over the paper route, but I include all the events of the paperboy's day from waking up to going to sleep that night. It's boring. The kids see how much more interesting it is to get vivid details about a small moment, rather than basic info about a lot of moments.

Today, we read the story "Roller Coaster." This is another great example of the excitement and detail that can go into writing about a small moment. Tomorrow we'll read "Goggles." And alternately in the past I've read "The Shortcut." If you're looking for mentor texts for small moments, these books can't be beat!

So after the mentor text each day, followed by a modeling mini-lesson and some brainstorming...the kids are raring to go and ready to write their own small moments. We'll write several this week and then pick one to publish later!  As they write I'll circulate around the room and check-in and confer as needed. Next week we'll add a couple new strategies to the board from the Conventions section of my VOICES menu (probably the ones dealing with end punctuation and capitalization so I can refer to them all year long), and we'll publish a small moment story to put in our portfolio! 

I'm eager to share more about how Reading Workshop is going, but that's for another day!


  1. Thanks for the book suggestion The Paperboy - I will have to check it out. Love that you use your wedding day as an example!

  2. I like the book suggestions too. My day is so packed, I have 30 minutes for writing at the very end of the day. Dismissal takes about 5 of those. Argh..

    Ms. Chae Charges In

  3. I'm glad to hear your writing workshop is off to a great start! Roller Coaster is a new title for me. I will check it out, for sure.

    Thank you!

    Fit to be Fourth
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  4. Thanks for sharing your titles! We're just starting 6 traits at our school, and I'm trying to work in some writing and mentor text modeling to my intervention instruction.

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
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  5. I've never heard of Goggles before (but I do use the other three books you talked about for small moments.) I will have to check that one out. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
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  6. Y'all have GOT to stop recommending books! ACK!! :-P This was a great post. Killer B was gorgeous, and I know your kids loved hearing the story you told! That is awesome! I'm off to add Paperboy and Goggles to the Amazon cart. I have the others. :) Thanks for linking up!
    ideas by jivey
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