“Seeing the Moment”shared by ISUComm on August 18, 2014
This activity helps students articulate highly detailed and believable descriptions of their places and their experiences in those places.
“I think students, or any writer for that matter, have a difficult time understanding that an audience can’t see what they are seeing as they write a description of a memory or place. The result is often a sparse description that doesn’t paint much of a picture for the audience. This activity forces students to put themselves back in the place they are describing and give a hyper-detailed description of their place in order to help their audience see, smell, hear, taste, and feel it more like the writer. This activity is used during the invention stages of the Letter-As-Essay assignment that asks students to write about home.”
- Students should be in writing groups, but have enough space to do some serious writing individually in their writing journals.
- The sheet included in the zip file with this activity should not be passed out, but used as a guide for the teacher as s/he talks the students through the description activities.
- First, introduce the activity by articulating the problem students have with communicating memories or sensory experiences to audiences. Explain that this activity will help with that problem.
- Have students first warm up to this activity by doing some kind of an invention activity in their journals (brainstorm, mind-map, free write, any thoughts on their topic or place).
- Have students then share with one another what the crucial moments in their stories might be.
- Students will then return to their journals and write a description of that moment.
- At this point, have students put their pens down, but leave their journals open. Follow the first imagining prompt (Step four) and tell students to visualize standing in that place. Who is there? Where are they? What are the colors on the walls, ground, trees? What does it feel like?
- Have students open their eyes. Have them record the moment before they forget it.
- Repeat steps seven and eight with the remaining prompts on the page.