- I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia
- writing journals or notebooks
Set Up and PrepareBefore reading the book, I have my students gather at a meeting place with their writer's notebooks. (Many of my students will write entries about vacation or what they did over the weekend and just list events. They don't choose what is important or write about an idea in-depth.) I explain to the class that I have noticed that they have been writing about trips or vacations that they have taken recently but with little detail. I explain that when writers write they try to zoom in on one moment of a vacation or a trip and let the reader know why that moment was important to them. I tell students that today I am going to share part of a story with you where the author zooms in on an important moment in her life. While I'm reading, I ask students to tell me how the author brings this one moment to life.
I read aloud the first 6 pages of text. I ask my students, "What small moment did the author zoom in on?" After we discuss the small moment, I explain that an author uses different strategies in order to zoom-in. We then make a chart, "Strategies to Zoom-in on a Moment" (I elicit responses from the students.) Possibilities for chart: 1. Uses the five senses to describe the moment. 2. Show don't tell sentences. 3. Use of specific verbs. 4. Adding voice. 5. Conversation 6. Uses descriptive words. After we discuss the strategies the author used, I finish reading the story.
After reading the story, I instruct my students to open their writer's notebooks and look through their entries to find one that they think they can zoom-in on a moment in order to bring it to life. I ask my students to give me a thumb up when they have found an entry. They then turn and tell the person sitting next to them how they plan to zoom-in on a moment.
After a minute or two, I instruct my students to go back to their seats to practice their writing. After about 20-30 minutes of writing, I invite a couple of students to share their entries. While the other students are listening they identify the strategies the student use to zoom-in on the moment.
Supporting All Learners
You might have some students who tell you that they can't find an entry where they can zoom-in on a moment. I try to plan ahead and read the writer's notebooks of students that I feel might not know where to start. By reading their notebooks ahead of time, I am familiar with their entries and can guide them in the right direction.
After this lesson, I create an interactive bulletin board entitled "Zooming in on a Moment." I ask my students to look for other authors who zoomed in on a moment in their writing and we post examples on the bulletin board. Students also nominate each other’s work to be added to the board.