Yesterday was our first day back after an unexpected 5 day weekend (shall we call it late winter break or not quite spring break?). On top of the 5 day weekend we returned to a delayed opening so, yeah, we were all messed up!
“Good morning, writers!” I greeted my third graders.
“Good morning, Mrs. Scannell!” They (pretty much) enthusiastically responded.
This workshop I was beginning with the children was not in my plans. It was not part of the unit we were in. It was a teachable moment. Sort of a second part teachable moment. Two weeks ago I jumped on a teachable moment during the reading of a book. As we were preparing for an author visit I read one of the author’s books to my class and discovered the book, (The Tooth Fairy Trap by Rachelle Burk) got my entire class telling stories. We quickly discussed how these are exactly the small moment stories writers struggle to find so we wrote our tooth stories. It was a highly successful (aka fun!) writing adventure.
So this morning I decided to capitalize on that great success. You see, I knew something about my class that they didn’t know, they all now had snow day stories.
“Remember when we went home last Tuesday? We figured maybe we wouldn’t have school on Wednesday because of the storm but, wow, who knew we wouldn’t see each other until today? It’s five days later!” I began.
As I had predicted in my head, they all started talking about their snow day experiences!
“Whoa, whoa, listen to all of you! Your are telling stories again! Really good stories! This reminds me of the day I was reading The Tooth Fairy Trap and you all had stories to tell.”
I then actually read my blog post to them, and some email that went back and forth about their great story writing that week. We recalled the hesitancy some of the children had and how we got past that. We recalled how, as it turned out, each of them did have a tooth story.
“But I didn’t actually do anything,” one little girl said.
“Me either,” said another, “I was just home.”
“But,” I interjected, “how many of you had to go to work with mom or dad because you couldn’t go to school,” (some eyes lit up) “or went out and helped mom or dad shovel or shake off trees,” (hands started to come up) “or had to go to grandma’s or a friend’s because you lost power?”
I went on like this for a while until they were all talking again (always a good sign when it comes to writing!).
“So I’m going to give you 5 minutes to tell your story to someone. Then we are going to go back to our seats and write that story down. We will take 15 minutes to write and then we need to do some math. But if you finish your math early you can go back to your story! Sound goo? Everyone ready?”
“Yes!” they all pretty much shouted.
And so we began. And once again, my writers gained a better appreciation for what makes a small moment story. It’s not because anything had to happen, it’s just because something is always happening, because we are alive and life goes along!