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Small Moments

Small Moments

Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue

By Lucy Calkins, Abby Oxenhorn Smith, Rachel Rothman-Perkins

In this popular unit, students take the everyday events of their young lives and make them into focused, well-structured stories, then they learn to breathe life into the characters by making them talk, think, and interact. Please note that this unit, which is offered for separate purchase here, is included in the core Grade 1 writing Units of Study boxed set.

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About the Unit

The first bend in the road swings, like a pendulum, between lessons that help children write the stories of their lives and lessons that establish the routines and structures of the workshop so that this writing work can be done independently. Children learn to touch and tell their stories, then sketch and write, so they can move independently through the writing process again and again. They learn to use their word-solving skills, and they learn that when they are finished writing one story, they can begin another. This first bend, then, encourages fearless approximation in ways that support ambitious storytelling and a volume of writing.

In the second bend, you will teach your young writers strategies to bring the people in their stories to life by making them move and talk. Children learn ways writers develop their narratives bit by bit. Partners act out what the people in their stories did and then capture that on the pages of their booklets.

In the next bend of the unit, “Studying Other Writers’ Craft,” you will continue to teach children ways writers elaborate. Children will apply these strategies to their writing as needed, both in the new stories they write and in their previously written stories. 

In the last bend, each child selects a piece he or she wants to publish and revises and edits that piece, using the support of a checklist of expectations for narrative writing. They also “fancy up” their writing by making a cover page, adding details and color to illustrations, and writing a “blurb.” As the culmination of the unit, children read their books in small groups and then add them to a newly created basket in the classroom library.

About the Grade 1 Writing Units

The first-grade units are written for children who are just tapping into their burgeoning powers as readers as well as writers, and believe they can do anything. Students begin with the always-popular unit Small Moments: Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue. In this unit students take the everyday events of their young lives and make them into focused, well-structured stories, then they learn to breathe life into the characters by making them talk, think, and interact. In Unit 2, Nonfiction Chapter Books, students enter the world of informational writing as they combine pictures and charts with domain-specific vocabulary and craft moves to create engaging teaching texts. In Unit 3, Writing Reviews, students create persuasive reviews of all sorts—pizza restaurant reviews, TV show reviews, ice cream flavor reviews, and finally book reviews that hook the reader, clearly express the writer’s opinion, and bolster their argument in convincing ways. In From Scenes to Series: Writing Fiction, the final unit of the Grade 1 series, students learn to “show, not tell” and use action, dialogue, and feelings to create a whole series of fiction books modeled after Henry and Mudge.

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Purchase Recommendation and Options

Please note that this unit, which is offered for separate purchase here, is included in the core Grade 1 writing Units of Study boxed set.

To learn more about the Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing series, visit UnitsofStudy.com/K5Writing.

Components

Unit

Small Moments: Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue

Mentor Text 

The Small Moments bundle includes one age-appropriate trade book that is used in the units to model effective writing techniques, encourage students to read as writers, and provide background knowledge.

  • Night of the Veggie Monster by George McClements

Supporting Materials

View Now! Units of Study for Teaching Writing Video Orientations, Grades K-8

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