I am so lucky this year that I get to meet with teachers about writing and go into their classrooms to confer with students and continue to build on our writing curriculum. I only wish I had more time to do it all. Whenever I meet with teacher, I hope to be a resource and guide or even just a calming influence when things get overwhelming. The teachers in my building, though, are excellent resources themselves and I've been happy to pluck their ideas and pass them around to everyone else as a tip or tool for their use. I can already see that we are growing as a staff and building on each others' great ideas.
My first tip is from a fourth grade teacher, Ms. Boehm. She was telling us how she explained Small Moments to her students and she had a perfect metaphor. It may not be the first time this metaphor has been used but it's the first time I heard it and it was so perfect I shared it in every other teacher meeting I had.
She asked the students about Small Moments like this:
If you're telling a story about your day at the beach, could you take a picture of your whole day and everything you did? (No!) If you're telling a story about all the games you played on the beach, could you take a picture of every game you played? (No!) If you're telling a story about building a sand castle, could you take a picture of your sandcastle? (Yes!) And could you write about all the details you remember from that picture in your mind? (Yes!) THAT'S a small moment - a story that fits in a picture.
The metaphor worked so perfectly because in conferences, we could talk with students about their writing and ask about the picture they took in their mind. We could analyze details from the story to figure out if they fit in the picture or not. It's been a great teaching AND conferring tool.