I originally did an Expanding the Sentence Mini Lesson in fifth grade after a lesson on Reporting vs. Storytelling. It went well, but I thought it could be better. In fourth grade, I talked about Reporting vs. Storytelling then did the Bit by Bit lesson followed by Expanding a Sentence and I think that really worked. It was better because in Bit by Bit we talk about really slowing down the moment and telling about all the little things that are happening at the same time. I think that made it easier to help kids work on how to expand sentences with more sensory detail.
We started with the same lame sentence: It was cold. I had students think about what they learned in Bit by Bit to help me write a paragraph that made my reader FEEL cold. I talked about what all would be going on in that one moment: what would you face be doing? What would your body be doing? What would you be thinking? I kept asking students to think about what else was happening at the same time and I think this helped them to write bit by bit. I can point to this later when I confer with students to help them develop their paragraphs.
-- What are all the things that would happen in that moment?
-- Take a picture of that moment in your mind.
-- Take a magnifying glass to the picture in your mind and tell all the things you notice.
These questions also build on the observation lessons fourth grade had, as well! They are experienced with making a picture in their minds and writing what they see.
I think you can see how this paragraph sticks to the moment more than the others. Before I think we were writing more about what's the next action because the action before is done - as if actions take place in isolation. In this lesson I think I was guiding them better to stay put and describe the moment like a still photograph.
I'm really pleased with the work the students did on these sentences. I think they got the message and now have a clear anchor for future conferences.