Thursday, March 21, 2013

Social Story Tools

Here is the social story I hoped to share. I wrote this to help my student Mikaluh with the structure of our workshop time. It really seemed to help and she has often enjoyed reading the story to the class.

Mikaluh's Social Story

There are so many transitions to writing. So many materials. It is fun but can be so complex. What we found with Mikaluh was that transitioning or pressing pause on a piece of writing was very difficult. Therefore we started using the phrase, "If I don't finish today, that's okay!" The whole class began to join in and it has been a sweet moment of workshop time. It really feels okay and frankly it has made that transition easier for a lot of folks. I enjoy when something that was a necessity for one ends up being pretty great for someone else too. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mikaluh's Visuals

Yesterday I introduced you to Mikaluh. Several weeks ago we started to use more visuals for her to support her during workshop time. This time of day had been very difficult for her, as it is for many people who have autism. Learning to write is a tricky process anyway. A messy process. If you are someone that likes things to fall into place in a certain way, writing does not necessarily fit real well into that plan.

Here is a series of pictures we use with the whole class to help students transition through the writing workshop process each day.

In the video I demonstrate how Mikaluh moves the green magnet. As she finishes one task for the day she moves the magnet. She also has a personal copy in book form with text that tells a story about writing workshop. I will try to share that before the month is over. It has been so wonderful to watch her make the progress she is making in this area of her day. She enjoys workshop time and is feeling success! 

P.S. I made this video before school and you can hear my daughter in the background listening to a story on the computer. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thumbs Up, Elbow Bump

Meet Mikaluh

Mikaluh has a gorgeous smile, beautiful blue eyes, an artistic side, a sing and dance side and she also happens to have autism. She has a lot to offer the world but tapping into those gifts is sometimes challenging. As you can imagine it is difficult for her to engage with others. This has been our goal for her from the beginning. Early on in the year we tried so many things to break into her world. Music was definitely a way. We sang together and for a moment here and there it felt like we connected. Then one day she said to me, "thumbs up, elbow bump," and gave me literally a thumbs up and with the same arm put out her elbow for me to bump with my elbow. You can imagine my disbelief and excitement.This became a way to connect. Students began saying it to her and she would elbow bump a friend. The chills and joy this brought helped create a tight community of children who have shown so much tolerance and love it is unimaginable unless you experience it.
She is a wonder. I may never fully know what she is thinking or feeling but I do know that she brings her own brightness to every encounter. I see that she is so much more than she may be able to communicate. I have high hopes for her and what she can accomplish.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why I Write

I write for myself
so I can express something
relive something
release something.
I write to hear my voice
to feel my words
to value myself.
I write to inspire
to awaken
to see
to reflect.
I write
for me.

Last night at about 11:15 I wrote a post for today. It was midnight by the time I was ready to stop reading/commenting/writing but I decided to wait to publish.
Then the day began and I wasn't feeling ready to hit the orange button on the screen.
I decided to take a walk in the woods behind our house. I took lots of photos and thought, perfect, this is a better slice for today.
Kids in bed, time to write for today and my husband says, "Did you watch that video about the guy from Cambodia yet?"
I hadn't. I had meant to. No better time than the present, right? I watched. Then I knew those other writing plans had changed.
I have posted the video below. It is very moving, raw and real.
Why do you write? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back to Saige

Here she goes, final product. Saige finished her story about the circus. 
I am amazed at how she has inspired other students to write more and work harder. Peers can impact instruction in ways we just don't realize until it happens. 
I love this!
Oh, and if you missed Saige's planning process, view it here!
Share a happy slice with Two Writing Teachers!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Revision Chart

I love charts. It's no secret. My kids know I love charts. They get excited when we are about to make one, well, at least that is what I believe. I believe that they are as psyched as I am when we talk about "important stuff." This week we have continued to talk about kindergarten may look at times a little more like editing. But, I try to stay true to revision and improving the content and ideas of their story.

Here is our chart!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conference Night

It is conference week. My long night happens to be this evening, so I am typing this quickly in between families. As exhausting as conferences are I honestly often have a great time. I really love to share the work students have been doing and there is always something positive to share with parents. I love watching the pride in their eyes when I am able to show a sample of writing from September and then now. It is so distinctly different and amazing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Brave Saige

You might have met Saige the other day in a previous post. She is a student of mine with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. A few days ago she was busily grabbing A LOT of paper and spreading it all out on the rug. Recently another student had modeled this way of organizing her ideas, however she had already begun writing. Saige was clearly still in the beginning stages of planning.
When I asked Saige what she was planning she started talking...I knew right away I needed to get my camera and film her. This was going to be big and I didn't just mean in the literal sense.
Saige begins telling her story about going to the circus. She visualizes her words on the page including her cover and title page. She knows where she wants it all to go and she is processing all the way through her ideas.

What a brave girl. I have never had a student take on a project of this magnitude and then go after it the way she has. She worked all through workshop time and through her playtime, more than an hour. Here she is midway through.

I did eventually have to stop her so she could go to gym with her classmates. The  next day she was back at it, working all through her workshop and playtime again! That is some stamina and drive. I hope to get a video of her reading the finished product this week.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Meet Saige

What is childhood apraxia of speech?

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a disorder that effects the brain's ability to plan movements of the mouth, lips, and jaw. The child knows what he/she wants to say but the brain is unable to form and produce words, syllables and sounds.

This is Saige.
 When I first met her she was four and attending preschool in my building. She busily colored while we discussed what her kindergarten school year experience would be like. When Saige had begun preschool she was able to produce approximately six sounds. She was in speech therapy and making great progress. Her teachers were learning her speech patterns and her parents were extremely supportive to Saige getting her as much help as needed.
I have learned so much from this little girl. I don't think I have ever met a child who is more understanding and tolerant of others with special needs. Her best friend has autism in our classroom and Saige, without fail, supports her and works to engage her in classroom activities. She has to do double sometimes triple the work to get her message across. She has to slow down, repeat, have patience with herself and her listeners.  Saige is the kind of student you meet and you know she is going to do something amazing with her life. Saige reminds me everyday how lucky I am to be a teacher. I get to watch her make leaps and bounds. I get to see her feel success. I get to watch her grow and celebrate with her each school day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Revising My Role

Today was a day to celebrate. We talked about revision and made a chart. I'll take a pic tomorrow. I settled on three examples of revision I had witnessed students trying here and there, things we had already had in a mini-lesson. Today was the day to put it into words for them. We talked about crossing out and continuing on with our writing. We talked about adding a word to make a sentence more detailed. This one went two ways, add a word to the middle of  a sentence or to the end of a sentence. We seemed ready and kids went off to write. I noticed several kids crossing out, this was encouraging. This also meant kids were rereading independently! Yay! It's nice when a plan works. When we shared at the end of workshop almost half the class had an example of a way they revised their work. Some crossed out parts of a picture. Some had added an important word that they had forgotten. A few had crossed out words or parts of a sentence. I was impressed. Then I shared my poem from yesterday and told them how I did some of the same things when I revised. They could see where I crossed out words and added or changed the arrangement of my lines.
Why didn't I start with this? I almost did. But today I wanted to be a writer just like them. I wanted to share my work at the "sharing circle" instead of being the teacher. Today, we were all the same.