I have begun to implement Lucy Calkins Units of Study in my third grade class and was fortunate enough to go to a one day seminar with Lucy. If you have never been to her web site I highly recommend it as it has a wealth of information and resources. The Reading and Writing Project You can also check out Lucy's Units of Study site for a grade by grade description and more resources! My favorite lesson so far has been on small moments. To take a snippet of an event and stretch it out, to make time stand still and things move in slow motion.
I chose The Snow Globe Family as my mentor text and we created a list of activities and vocabulary that might be useful to the students to incorporate in their stories.
First the snow came down. Then I went out in the snow. I went sledding down the hill. After that I got cold so I went inside. That is how I would spend my day if I lived in a snow globe. This type of writing was not acceptable and it was difficult for some of the students to break that habit. However, after some coaching and peer sharing their writing took an amazing turn for the better!
Here are some of their small moment writing...
I ran downstairs to wake my baby brother and my older sister when... Shake! Shake! Shake! I managed to think, "Blizzard" before all of us were blown out of the house. My baby brother awoke with a jolt. My sister was still snoring in midair! My brother, Jake, grabbed some snow and, winking at me, hurled it at my sister. It hit her splat in the face. She got mad! (I don't know why, she did worse to us) Then she chucked a snowball at both of us. They missed. My brother and I chucked more snowballs at her. The force of them crushed her into the house wall. At the same time, the snow globe tilted one way and stopped. Our sister hurled snowballs at us. We ducked and made a giant snowball (well, not giant to the big people) but big. We rolled it down at her. Fear, anger, hate, indignation and horror mingled. For a moment she looked faceless, then the snowball ran her completely over. I was filled with happiness at getting my sister back and I am pretty sure Jake felt the same way. He jumped around, positively whooping! My sister roared and chucked two snowballs at once at us. We flung more snowballs back, throwing blasts of snow at her face. The air became filled with snowballs. The door opened and my mom came out and everything froze..... "Time for lunch, everybody!" said our confused mom. We followed her inside. It certainly had been a crazy day.
The Snow Globe Family
Enough about winter.... Think Spring!