Explode the Moment

A guy started the race with a gun and I started running. It was a long course. I was tired. Then, I saw the finish line and ran as fast as I could to cross it.

The student above wrote about a race they were in. As I read their work, I had a hard time visualizing this moment because it lacked detail. Is your students’ writing lacking detail? Is it hard to visualize their stories? There are many ways to help students add more detail, to show rather than tell their story. When I read this student’s writing, I knew it was time for my personal favorite lesson, Explode the Moment!

 

Explode the Moment

Students pick a sentence from their story to explode (slow down the moment). They fill in a chart to aid them in this explosion. The chart includes as many things as they can remember under five categories: feelings, thoughts, dialogue, senses, and actions.

After they finish filling in the chart, the students rewrite that moment using all the listed details from the chart. The difference this exercise makes on students’ writing is amazing.

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This is the student’s second draft after exploding the moment…

Sentence: I saw the finish line and ran as fast as I could to cross it.

The finish line was in sight. My feet were aching, lungs gasping for air, and my side ache arising again, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from pumping my arms faster and quickening my pace. All I could think about was finishing. My teammates in the stands were shouting and cheering. “Go! You’re almost there!” A battle ensued between my mind and body. I wanted to go faster, but my body wasn’t allowing me to. Exerting every last ounce of energy, I finally triumphed across the finish line.


If you’re stuck on how to help your students add detail in their writing and getting them to show rather than tell their stories, why not try teaching the Explode the Moment lesson. It may completely change the way some of your students write.

BYU Women’s Conference

WOMCN_Large

As the summer comes to a close and we look back at all the wonderful events that took place here at Brigham Young University, I would like to take a moment to discuss this year’s Women’s Conference. Walking onto campus and quickly noticing the growing number of women, my heart was warmed by the wonderful events and speeches that were taking place. These wonderful talks invoked confidence in their listeners, brought them spiritual security, and allowed women to feel supported in their beliefs. Ellen Young, a devoted Women’s Conference participant and close family friend, said when speaking about the joy she finds at Women’s Conference, “Women’s Conference for me, and I assume many of the participants, is a much needed break from the worries and strife of the world.” As you look deeper into this program, it is no wonder that women like Mrs. Young find Women’s Conference so enlightening. 

For two days, women have the opportunity to take time apart from their day-to-day lives and truly reflect and begin anew. My question is, how do you believe we can create in our classrooms the same feelings of love and renewal felt at Women’s Conference? The answer has many facets, but I believe the most important aspect that makes Women’s Conference so effective is the feeling of love that is so prevalent. Each individual is filled with a love of learning and of each other. I assert that a classroom cannot function without love. In the classroom, take time to help the students develop a love of learning. This is the most effective tool in the classroom and one that will touch the students’ lives. I personally flourish in classrooms where I first feel respected by my peers and then loved. In these scenarios, I have been able to come to a deeper level of learning. This is only created when each individual feels like they have something to add to the conversation. It is each teacher’s individual responsibility to create this atmosphere in their classrooms. This will lead to not only a greater level of learning but also an increased love for learning.

5 Things I Want Future Teachers to Know

From: a teacher with a week of experience.

Image courtesy sheerid.com

Image courtesy sheerid.com

1. Teaching involves more than just liking to teach and be with kids.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in my major answer the question, “Why did you choose to major in Elementary Education?” with the reply, “Well, I just LOVE kids!” That is important, and great, and good, but it doesn’t mean that you should be a teacher. Teaching involves SO much more! Yes, I adore my 30 students and I adore teaching my primary class in church, and yes, I feel like I belong more with children than adults, but that isn’t why I became a teacher. I became a teacher so I could make the world a better place. I became a teacher because I wanted to give back. Realize that teaching is NOT as easy as it seems… read on :)

2. Teaching is EXHAUSTING.

As I have seen Facebook posts pouring in from all my fellow first-year teachers, there seems to be a consensus. WE ARE EXHAUSTED. Why? No one seems to understand. However, after this week I’m realizing it is because when you are a teacher, there are NO breaks. You want a lunch break? Too bad. You need to help Sally with her bullying problem at recess. Want to sit down? Nope. The second you sit down, Tommy over in the corner will start goofing off again. Want to go to bed early? Fat chance. You’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning planning a lesson that suits every child’s needs. Teaching is more than just a full-time job. Which leads me to my next point.

3. Teacher is your job title, but it involves SO much more.

There are so many times that I have heard fellow teachers say, “That wasn’t in my job description…” You will NEVER be prepared for the range of things that happen in a school day. In one day, I had a child from another class hang onto my legs and say, “I will hug you one thousand times and never let go!” Despite my persistent urging of her to go play during recess, a child confided in me some very sensitive information, a child burst into tears because I wouldn’t let her do what she wanted in class, another student completely ignored everything I said and did not do a thing all day, all while trying to administer 29 reading tests. Now if you learned how to deal with all that in your classes… I need to find out what program you are in and go back to school! Being a teacher means being an educator, a nurse, a parent, an advocate, a police officer, a lawyer, a projector specialist, a janitor, a teddy bear, a comforter, a debater, and whatever you are outside of school as well.

4. Things aren’t always what they seem–especially in the classroom.

These kids in my class, all 30 of them, are wonderful. They are amazing and can do great things, yet the one thing I think they know how to do best is push my limits. One student in particular said something very offensive to me on the second day of school. My first instinct was to take the child out and talk to him very sternly about what he had said. But I calmly sent him in the hallway. When I went out to talk with him, he had big tears in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong. Come to find out, this boy has been told all throughout school that he is a “bad boy.” So when you want to give someone what they deserve in your classroom, give them the benefit of the doubt and really figure out what is going on.

5. You will NEVER regret your decision to be a teacher.

Sitting through three years of Elementary Education classes seemed like an eternity to me. When I started my degree, I honestly believed I would be married and have a kid before I graduated. Now here I am, an internship away from graduation. On the first day of my internship, I announced to my students that our class theme would be “This is going to be the best day of my life.” I promised them that each day would be the best day of their lives in my class, each day would be better than the last. At the end of the day, I didn’t expect the kids to even remember or to be impacted by what I said. Suddenly, years of schooling all became worth it when one boy looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Lyon, this really WAS the best day of my life!” Mission accomplished.

So, this post isn’t meant to scare you, it is meant to help you see the realities of teaching. No matter what anyone says, teaching is NOT an easy job. Never fall for that. Teaching will be the hardest, most rewarding job you will have yet (aside from parenting). As David O. McKay said, “The privilege to work is a gift. The power to work is a blessing. The love of work is success.”

This was another blog post from our wonderful guest blogger, Jessica Lyon. Jessica is a senior from Cedar Hills, Utah studying Elementary Education. In her spare time she enjoys preparing her 3rd grade classroom for the Fall and learning about learning. See her previous posts here and here.

Finding My Purpose

Finding My Purpose

high-school 

Day in and out we all have thousands of experiences that form a lifetime of memories. I had many significant experiences in high school, but I believe that the most valuable high school experiences were those that impacted my life long after high school was over. As I walked the same halls day in and out I wasnt simply learning about history and science I was finding my purpose. As a high school student, I made many choices because I understood that I was forming a future for myself. One of those choices was to take a career teaching class. As a result of taking this class, I had the single most significant experience of my high school career. I found purpose and direction in life by mentoring a seven-year-old boy named Josh.

One day, while volunteering at the local elementary school, I met Josh. Josh was painfully shy, an unwilling worker, he showed signs of a mental disablity. For weeks, I worked with Josh as he struggled to pay attention and complete his assignments. He required constant reminders to stay on task. One day, as Josh and I were struggling through yet another worksheet, he looked up at me and said, “Miss Annie, thank you.” It was the first time I ever heard him speak after weeks of unanswered questions and written answers, he spoke! I looked down at him through my tears and said, “You’re welcome, Josh.” I almost danced as I left the school.

The next day, I came into the school with high hopes for my student. They were met. As I walked in, Josh ran up to me and proudly showed me that not only had he done the sheet I asked him to do, but another worksheet as well. I had often spent thirty to forty minutes helping Josh complete a simple worksheet and had to wonder how long he had labored to be able to finish these two sheets. He felt successful and it motivated him to work even harder. He gave up his time because he wanted to succeed. And Josh did just that. He began to excel in school. I saw him keeping pace with the other children and our visits together become less frequent and less necessary.

The truth is, Josh helped me more than I could have ever helped him. Because of him, I want to be an elementary school teacher. He showed me the struggle and joy of teaching and that all the trials are definitely worth the reward. This experience became my most significant high school experience because it gave me direction for my life. Josh helped me find my purpose.