Wrap around me
Like a warm quilt.
Like a tightly-woven chrysalis,
Emerging like beautiful butterflies
When I think of him.
Memories of my grandfather:
Long walks in the Poconos
To teach me the names of trees,
Pushing me higher on my swing set.
Flutter on warm/cool breezes
Like beautiful butterflies
Are the memories of my
When I want to teach students about narrowing a writing territory, I talk about my grandfather. He is a huge writing writing territory for me. I show them how I use an inverted triangle to get at the topic I will write about today in writing workshop (See Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature, K-6 for more examples). I bring out three different writer's notebooks and show them how many pages I have marked with sticky notes. These are all pages where I have written about my grandfather: descriptions, anecdotes, a "My Something Beautiful" piece, short stories, and many, many poems.
In class we count them up and find twenty-six pieces. I tell them that following these threads sometimes helps me think of a completely new piece to write about my grandfather - imagine that! The point: narrow the focus for your writing before you start to draft. I would get lost if I tried to write everything I remember and love about my grandfather. There is just so much to write about and share with my readers!
Equally important information for your students (and for you): visit your writer's notebook often to reread entries. Sometimes, you will want to write more or revise a piece for publication. Sometimes, the rereading will jog your memory and you will find your topic to write about. Even if you don't, you can delight in your words and actually see how you've grown as a writer from the beginning pages of your notebook to the end. I always give my students this advice: "Save all your notebooks! They tell a story - your story! One day they will be treasure chests of memories for family and friends."