Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sneak Attack...

of Kindness!

Last week I was listening to a kids radio station and heard a great idea.
"Call in with your sneak attacks of kindness!"
Kids from all over were calling in and telling how they helped their moms, they smiled at people, helped a friend all kinds of little acts of kindness they noticed or participated in.
It inspired me to do a shared writing activity with my class about sneak attacks of kindness...what are they?
They knew and came up with a great list.

Later that day students drew and wrote their own special sneak attack of kindness. Then we paired our words with lovely watercolor illustrations today.
It was a warm and cozy kind of writers workshop day today. Watching them outline their sketches in black crayon. Carefully apply the watercolor paint like I demonstrated. I was shocked at how well it actually went. When they did their final draft of writing (in kindergarten this really just means re-writing the story again) they all looked great. I was so proud and impressed with their progress.
More photos to come later this week!

Did you experience a sneak attack of kindness today?

Slice with fellow slicers at Two Writing Teachers!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Revealing Trees

Many thanks to Anastasia at Booktalking, our Poetry Friday host today. Fill up with some delicious poetry today and all weekend. There's plenty!

I notice you
your leaves have ceased.
Dendrite limbs
reveal abandoned homes
of twigs and time.
In circadian rhythm
I passed each day
not knowing the teams of life
that sat chirping and cheeping
in the crooks of your trunk.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Valuing Where We Are

 Join in and share a story with Two Writing Teachers Ruth and Stacey.

This slice starts out with a reminder about a book I read recently, Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon. You can read about Ralph here or here.
Ralph got me thinking about a lesson in the book Talking, Drawing, Writing by Mary Ellen Giacobbe and Martha Horn. There is a lesson all about valuing where everyone is as a writer. Some may write letters, some may draw a detailed picture and others may write a story with lots of letters and sounds. I did this lesson with my class last week and then shared samples of what writing was looking like in Ralph's class too.

It was neat to do this lesson and use Ralph's "classmates" as an additional example. (I of course lead them to believe that I had access to this information).

On my way to work today I was having a conversation in my head with a "doubter" of my "way" of teaching writing. Thinking about what I would say? What proof do I have? Why do I need proof? Why do I sometimes feel like the doubters are trying to fear me into "their" way instead of looking closer at "my" way? And it hit me, they aren't there yet. I need to value them where they are. I am in a different place as an educator, on my own journey. So is everyone. I will try to value where they are and continue to build their understanding as I build my own.
I will not be afraid, or defensive, instead I will be me. I will continue to travel on my journey as a teacher of young writers.

Then by chance, I stumbled onto Scholastic's author interviews while researching author David Shannon (our mentor author for the next couple weeks). Norman Bridwell had an interview so I watched. He talked about how sometimes when you do something, not everyone will like it, but believe in yourself anyway. Then he went on to thank teachers. What an affirming message. (There are great videos on the link above. E.B. Lewis is one to watch too. I am full of new inpsiration today).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

LIBERTY by Janet Wong

It is your right to slice a story today, so do it with the Two Writing Teachers!

It seems a poignant day to slice with a piece from Janet Wong's DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE. I absolutely love this poem.

I pledge acceptance
of the views
so different,
that make us America

To listen, to look,
to think, and to learn

One people
sharing the earth
for liberty
and justice
for all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

You Will Love Ralph!

Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for the best of the blogosphere's current reading! I always leave their meme with a list and several tabs of other great books to check out. 

"Did you see Stacey's post yet? If not, go read it." My bestie colleague buddy messaged.

I listened, went and read. Then rearranged my day so I could go get the book Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon, because I could tell, it was going to be that good.

I looked online to see if my library had it, check! I would just have to go to the branch that is a bit further away. I knew it would be worth it.
I got there and was totally disoriented, it was not my normal library. Looking, trying not to look lost. Feeling the eyes of the security guard on my back. Of course filling my bag because even though I am only there for one book I got seven.
Then...finally...victory. Into my bag, checkout, go home.
As soon as my feet hit my living room my kids were running up, "what'd you get?"

We love Ralph! He is the perfect reluctant writer and he is a brilliant storyteller. He has supporting characters, Daisy and his teacher. "Stories are everywhere!" Is what his teacher always says!
This story is so realistic and the quirky illustrations depict a workshop environment. You see it all unfolding in the little classroom of writers.
I hope if you teach prek-first, maybe even second you will give it a glance. And, even if you teach higher grades, go get it and read it anyway because we all have a Ralph or know a Ralph or two or three. This book is a must read.

Here is Stacey's post including an interview with Abby Hanlon! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back to the Visual Plan

It was a nice week of writing in kindergarten. I love these periods of growth that spike at different points in the year. We are still in our phase that is heavily focused on talking and drawing and students are working on peer planning. We added the visual plan to our process this week. As I watched students do this it reminded me of a former student and former post on this very planning process.

Here's what our workshop time looks like in steps:
Step one-Sharing Circle, "Who has a story today?" This gets our storytelling juices flowing and sparks our idea banks.
Step two-Knees and Noses. Students sit with knees touching knees to a partner and noses facing so the talking time is actively engaging. This is our transition talking time. Everyone gets an opportunity to share a story and have an audience. Right now we are still working on listening and speaking. Later, questioning and active revision will be in play with peers!
Step Three-Pick a good spot with your knees and noses buddy to practice your spatial plan! Below are two students, one watching his partner draw his plan with his finger. This helps him really think through what elements he wants included in the picture and where they need to go! We do this part right in the spot the student is writing so the ideas are not lost on the trip to get materials.

Step four-Drawing time begins, quiet ensues and thinking is thick. These two stuck together through the drawing process.

Step five-Meet up with your knees and noses partner. Check your picture and retell your story! How did it go?
Step six-Sharing Circle, "who has a story today?" This is optional or planned during a conference and used as a peer model/mentor text for the writers in the room.
Our stamina continues to grow in all these areas. Right now these six steps take around 30-40 minutes to make our writers workshop complete!