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.
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.