Finding Small Moments in Writing


NEVER underestimate the power of a picture book!
Note: This post contains an affiliate link. 

Welcome to the first Mentor Monday! Do you find yourself searching for that perfect mentor text to match a skill or strategy you’re teaching? There are so many great books out there, but never enough time to sift through them all. Well this is the post for you! I’m starting a brand new linky and invite all of you to link up! Each Monday I will post a different strategy or skill in reading or writing. Then I’ll discuss a picture book that would serve as a helpful mentor text to teach that skill or strategy. I especially love sharing mentor texts with other teachers, because the minute you mention a book and the skill or strategy you use it for, they usually respond with a, “Wow! I used that same book for this ——-!”

*Versatility is part of what makes a picture book such a powerful teaching tool in the classroom.

Today’s Topic: Choosing a mentor text for developing small moments into personal narratives. Over the years, I’ve used Lucy Calkins, Units of Study for writing personal narratives with my third graders. When I first started, I really needed help finding mentor texts to model strong personal narrative writing. One of the sessions involves searching for small memorable moments in your life that really matter to you. These are seed ideas versus the huge watermelon topics. Children can go on and on about their trip to Disney in a large summary or shopping list of events as I used to call them. That’s a huge watermelon topic! But the first ride on Space Mountain? Now THAT’s a seed idea which really is a memorable small moment. Helping young writers distinguish between the two is critical if you want them to write successful personal narratives.

~My Mentor Text~

Years ago, I discovered a little hidden gem by Donald Crews that really matched this strategy well. Shortcut is about a time a group of siblings are late heading home and decide to take a shortcut by walking along a set of train tracks. Find out what happens when they take the shortcut and a train comes. This book will have your children on the edge of their seats. Not only can you discuss the dangers of taking such a shortcut, but you can talk about WHY this is such a strong example of an author writing about a small moment. Once my students hear this story, they begin to have a much clearer understanding of small memorable moments versus those mega watermelon topics!

Whether you’ve used this book before to teach personal narrative writing, or want to try it for the first time, I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below. 🙂

Note to fellow teacher bloggers: If you want to link up your post with a picture book about this literacy topic, THANK YOU!
Here is a link to the Mentor Monday button I created. Please use it at the beginning of your post to make it easily recognizable on all link-ups. Also, please name your post Mentor Monday Linky 1/20/14. You’ll find the link-up at the end of this post. It will stay open until 1/22/14.
I’m so excited to read your posts to learn about some other great picture books. Thank you for visiting my blog today! I’d love for you to follow me on Bloglovin’ by clicking the heart on the blue book in the right sidebar. Please come back each week for Mentor Monday! :))

Photo: Dollar Photo Club


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  1. Isn't it such a fabulous book? Have you read the book before it called Big Mama's? I didn't mention it in my post but I always started with that book and then read Shortcut. Big Mama's worked well for writing about a place that mattered to you. Thanks for your comment! Feel free to link up too! :))
    Emily, TRT/OG

  2. I was thinking the SAME thing Wendy! This could be a pricey linky! So many fun shares! Next week we're doing lively leads. Can't wait!! Thanks for linking up! :))
    Emily TRT/OG

  3. I'm so glad you found my blog! I'm meeting so many wonderful people through this linky! Be sure to stop by and link up next week for lively leads!
    -Emily, TRT/OG :))

  4. Emily! I have not read this book. I am excited to go on a hunt to find it. It looks like a great way to teach small moments. Thanks. I can't wait to read the link-ups each week!
    Curious Firsties

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