I worked in a first grade classroom last week. I loved teaching writing and was excited the class was working on small moments. I know two things that are complete true about first graders and writing.
1. If you let first graders draw before they write, they will never get around to writing.
2. If you let first graders talk, they will never get around to writing.
BUT, I also know these two things to be true.
1. If you let first graders draw before they write, their stories will be more focused and detailed.
2. If you let first graders talk, the telling of their story is a great rehearsal for their writing.
How do you work with these opposing truths to get your kiddos writing? Because they're both 100% true.
Then, I practiced telling the story to them. This is an important step to connect to writing. Kids tell great stories. Then they write, "This is the time my dog chewed up her toy." I told them that if you can tell a good story, you can write a good story because writing is just taking words from the air and putting them on paper.
After that, I wrote my story. No pictures of that. Oops. The kids sketched and discussed their stories. After that, it was voices off and time to write. And you know what? Everybody did. There was no, "I don't know what to write." I did encourage them to describe what they saw and add in thoughts or feelings.
How do you get your kiddos focused on a moment?