Teaching about small moments can greatly improve students’ writing.
You may be asking what is a “small moment” and how does it relate to writing? Small moment stories are when authors write about important events from their lives. When it comes to personal narrative writing, it helps students to pivot making a list of things they did and instead begin to focus on that one small moment that really impacted them.
After using this lesson with students, they LOVE how it shifts their writing. They feel more confident in knowing exactly what they want to write about and how to get there. It allows them to navigate through the writing process much easier, because they can focus and hone in on that specific event in time, rather than thinking about so many different ideas. Their writing will evolve with more focus, detail and dialogue. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get into it!
This lesson helps students see exactly what a small moment is and why good writers use them to help drive their writing. We begin with a watermelon analogy. The whole watermelon is for our big topic. What will we be writing about; an experience, something that happened to us, etc. When we slice our watermelon, the slices become our narrowed ideas. What was happening during that experience? What did we do when that thing happened to us? At last, we come to our seeds, which is our small moment and this is where we get to the impactful part. That small moment that we hone in on, becomes our story.
Break it Down for Students
This lesson is typically spread out over a week’s time. We begin by learning what small moments are, brainstorming our big watermelon topic using our graphic organizer, choosing one of those as our medium slice, and then narrowing down even further to our small moment. We move through the writing process and practice these honing skills during our writer’s workshop. Students love to tell stories about things that happened to them and this process is super helpful in getting them to really focus their story.
Using the Process
After we have narrowed down to our small moment, we are ready to write our first piece using the writing process. We begin by making our plan and at this stage modeling is SUPER important. I pull out my graphic organizer, I model first what a good plan looks like. We move through the writing process and start to write our first draft. Once our draft is finished, we pull out our checklists to ensure we do everything during our editing and revising process. At last, we publish our final piece and you can have student’s share with each other and/or hang them to show off!
Mentor Texts for the Win!
Books are great to teach just about anything. Some stories do an amazing job of pulling you into a journey of one small moment. Incorporating read alouds to inspire and provide a good model for students is an engaging and fun activity for everyone. Check out some of my fan favorites to use as mentor texts.
A Moment in Time by Jennifer Butenas
Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
How’d They Do?
After teaching, it’s important to assess your students’ ability to narrow down their focus on small moments during their writing. Check out this rubric FREEBIE you can grab just by subscribing!
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Other Writing Resources
Why not load your student’s up with all the support and resources for them to become strong, independent writers? Once you experience the shift of your student’s writing after mastering small moment stories, writing just may become your favorite subject to teach! Below you’ll see some of the other writing resources I love to use during writing. You’ll also find a GROWING bundle of tools and lessons!
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