Using "Firsts" and "Last" Times in Our Lives to Write Meaningful Moments

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SWBAT generate ideas from their own lives and turn them into small meaningful moments concentrating on the descriptive detail of inner thinking.

Big Idea

Creating meaningful moments from your "firsts" and "last" times

Lesson Opener

5 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect: Yesterday we read an author’s memoir to understand how to make our own memoir meaningful, today we are going to generate our own ideas by using a generating or brainstorming strategy.  

Teach: “If you noticed from the stories we have read over the past couple of days, the authors used moments from their lives where they first understood something. In “Us and Them” David Sedaris realizes for the first time that you shouldn't judge people. Geoffrey Canada in “Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun” realized for the first time that innocence for children doesn't last forever. I am going to practice the skill of picking the most meaningful moments from my life to start my thinking about the memoir. I am going to use the strategy of using a three column chart (First Times/Last Times/My Thinking in the Moment). The process I will use is as follows:

1) Think of the first or last time I did something

2) Ask myself: What did I learn from this experience?  What was I thinking during this experience?

3) Jot down my ideas, with concentration on adding inner thinking.”

I will jot down at least two first times from my own life and two last times and what I was thinking or most likely was thinking (always use moments from your childhood; first time you rode a bike, last time you were in elementary school, first time you met your best friend, last time you saw your grandmother, etc.). Here is my example.

Active Engagement

5 minutes

Active Engagement: “Now you are going to jot down this chart in your notebook and jot down at least 3 ideas for “first times” and 3 for “last times. I want you to write down what you were thinking and what you learned in order to show that this moment is meaningful.” I will check for understanding by asking every level of learner (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard). Ensure that students are jotting down ideas that will help them write a meaningful piece.

Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, Remember writers, “successful writers practice the skill of using the most meaningful moments from my life. They practice the strategy of organizing their thoughts in a graphic organizer. They then think of the first and last time they did something and ask themselves; What did I learn from this experience? What was I thinking during this experiences?

Independent Practice

30 minutes

Independent Practice: Students will brainstorm for at least five more minutes until they land on a moment in which they have the “squeezy feeling in their heart,” one in which they really want to tell. You will then direct them to write out the moment and include inner thinking (show them an example of your own writing where you have done this and have them use the mentor texts from the prior days).  Highlight for them where you have added inner thinking and/or where the author of the mentor text added inner thinking.They should write for at least 25 minutes if not more. They can write multiple moments within this time if they get stuck on one. As they are working independently and quietly, (I like to play classical or smooth jazz for“writing”music) I will confer with them about their writing using this chart.

Partner Work:Students will be directed to turn and share one of the moments they have crafted. I will say, “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A you will share a moment you wrote down or part of a moment. Partner B, I want you to listen if Part A was using inner thinking. Then you will tell them where you heard either or both of those. Then you will switch.Give your partner feedback as to where they could add more inner thinking. I should hear, "Maybe you could add...or I liked how you used...I will add something similar to my writing."

Allow time for students to revise their writing after partner talk. 




5 minutes

I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question.

Closing: What small moment from your own life did you write about today? Jot down your best sentence that shows inner thinking.