Show Don’t Tell

Recently, Northern Nevada Writing Projects WritingFix website featured the book Show Don’t Tell by Josephne Nobisso. It caught my eye as this is exactly what I ask my Third Grade Authors to do: use your words to SHOW what happens in your writing. In fact, Googling those words, this seems to be a pretty universal thought for teachers of writers.

As my students have worked through the past weeks to create a Small Moment Narrative – our featured writing product for November – one strategy I’ve introduced/reviewed is that by adding conversation to writing, an authors shows what is happening in the story.  Oh how my Third Graders love to use quotation marks! Sometimes those marks appear in the darndest placed 🙂

In preparing for conferencing, I try to read each students narrative ahead of time. It gives me an opportunity to consider the most important next step we need to take in a student’s writing. And sometimes it is just plain fun to pre-read their ideas and thoughts.

Before I packed up some of the students’ writing for my “homework” yesterday, one of my ELLs approached me with a warning: “I’ve written some Spanish” she told me in a whisper.  I assured her that wouldn’t be a huge problem – armed with false cognates and an online translator, I was pretty sure I could problem solve the gist of her writing.

But what she had done was not just add randomly placed Spanish words in her narrative. She had written conversations in Spanish! Why? Because that is her home language and that was the language her mother speaks with her. So when Mom spoke in her Small Moment, the conversation was authentic.

Absolutely brilliant – don’t you think?!


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