Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stages in Writing, Part Three

Wow, look at how she is filling up that white space with color and detail. She is saying so much in her picture with facial expressions and changes in the setting. If I was limiting her drawing time this might not be happening. But, some of you might be thinking, I don't have time to let kids draw that long.
This is what I have tried with her and those alike. Set a timer for ten minutes close by. They draw for ten minutes; however, this is not a race against the timer or a high pressure situation. No one needs to finish and it is important that they know this to be true. I do ask them at the end of ten minutes to write for five minutes give or take. It is at this point I check back in (hopefully, fingers crossed) to see what we have going on and jot down notes or offer minimal support--I want to see what they can do, not tell them what to do. I then ask them what they have planned for the rest of workshop. Some continue writing, more of them (those at this stage) go back to drawing. I think some kids just need more structure, not limits necessarily, but structure to their process so they don't get too lost. I need to remember to value where they are and if drawing is what they need, it is my job to provide time for this step in their process.
This time of year always presents challenges in a kindergarten classroom because the varying levels of writers get more and more different from each other. These kids need a timer, this student needs me to check in every few minutes, this group needs a quieter space, that child is ready to move, move, move and needs a little push to get there, and so on and so on and so on! It is also a time of growth, making it all worth while.

My dad and sissy went to grandma's.

 My dad and Olivia went up first.

I was there. I felt good.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stages in Writing, Part Two

Here is another capable writer. What I noticed immediately was that his illustrations are doing a lot of the story telling. Lots of picture details and color, even close up views. I can't wait to show him some examples of other authors who have used various viewpoints with their illustrations. He will be so proud! I also love how his enthusiasm comes through in the story. He has a start on using his voice here, something he will be able to share with all his peers as a great way to add detail to their stories!

I am bringing a new crayon box to school.
 My crayon box is on this shelf.
 This is my crayon box. (An inside view).
 I am at the blue table with my new crayon box.
My crayon box is awesome.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stages in Writing Part One

Here is the first in a series of posts dedicated to the writing stages I currently have in my classroom. I thought I would start with most capable and independent to those needing the most support and guidance. 

The non-fiction bug is taking hold in writer's workshop. One of my students got a new pen that can do fancy tricks, he decided this would be a good writing topic! Me too since it turned into another great non-fiction writing example for the class. I love it when the kids do the teaching for me.
"Here, look at what one of your friends did, you can too! Tell us what you did little teacher."

One new piece I have added to my management of the booklets is to add a large sticky note to the inside of the cover. This way I can easily reference what the writer intended as well as the timeline of the writing. This particular student drafted this whole booklet in one writer's workshop session. Motivation can really push to show a student's true ability. No pressure though, I don't expect him to do this every time. I understand we all have a day when we are just "on fire," as I told him while he was working!

What I find interesting about his stage of writing is that he framed this book much like the types of books he is currently able to read. He used what he knows, without really realizing that he was following a formula. I am not all about teaching formulas, which is why I found this so interesting. This is a nice demonstration of how text has influenced his writing.
 I think we will work to add detail to the pictures. There are enough examples of good detail in his story (the motion marks were great). However, the pictures where the pen is able to "draw" lacks a detailed drawing. I think we will start with his work and then critique a book from his book box that follows this same formula to see if he thinks the pictures lack detail (they likely do). I might see what he thinks about this, and what he might change if he was the illustrator of the book.

I love that he added an ending. this was purely independent and amazing to me, I have barely touched endings! However, he has picked it up on his own and is already trying it out. Love this!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'm Fifty

That wasn't originally going to be my title...but I just noticed that this is the fiftieth post on my blog! That feels like an accomplishment worthy of taking the title. I did a little blog searching today and came across some great sites of hard working teachers. One stuck out and will be something I can refer back to frequently as a teacher of young writers.
I can sometimes find teacher blogs overwhelming, the obvious amount of time and effort these colleagues put into their blogs and their daily teaching lives...I just remind myself that like my students, we are all in different places.
Check out the site, get inspired and save some ideas for later! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Look at Booklets

I am continually inspired and amazed at what my students are doing with the choice and freedom to create books!
That statement sounds a little bit, rosy, to say the least, but I can say with assurance it is genuine.
Over the past few days I have been looking over student work. I still need to do some, "looking back," but I am really happy with where my students are and looking forward to where they are going.

Most students have gone through the booklet process about three times now and below are some sequenced examples of this work. Following the pics I have a few next steps I am hoping to get going to ensure even better outcomes.

As I was taking pictures of work, it was funny, I realized that two of my students wrote about the same thing and you can see so many similarities but also the difference of where they are in their writing process and understanding. They are also both clearly very proud of their work.

I's Story
 Cici was at my house.

 Me and Cici was eating.

 She hasn't written or dictated here yet, but I love the arrow she drew to show the direction of the people.

 Also no writing or dictation yet, but I think they are in their sleeping bags!

C's (Cici) Story
 I was going to I's house and my mom dropped me off. 

 I went to I's and I spent the night.

 And we went to bed and we love the (?). 
Not sure what they love, but I want to know!

 I ate breakfast. 
I am not sure if C is done yet, but she is certainly putting the whole story together in her booklet.

L's Non-Fiction Story
 The Classroom

 The teacher.

 I love that he did a non-fiction story. I can't wait to have him share this with the class. I think it will lead into several new ideas for students. 

"What do you know a lot about?" 
I can't wait to ask kids this question. I think it will get them motivated to take on a new challenge. It will also push me to use some non-fiction text in my mini-lessons, in turn pushing the wealth of knowledge students already have brewing in their little brains!

Some of my other next steps will be to record and monitor student behaviors when writing. Who tunes out the noise or buzz in the room? Who needs it quiet? Who needs to sound out every word, noise that is not intentionally disruptive, but actually necessary for that student to process through the words in his or her story? Who is quick and who isn't? Who gets distracted and who doesn't? I think more behaviors will present themselves when I start  to really look.  I am hoping that by understanding their writing needs I will be able to help students get in the right spot, the right light, near the right people etc., to put out their best work. 
I am looking forward to the next few weeks of writing and hope to have a post soon on the non-fiction ideas that are soon to come!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back At It!

I was just sitting here realizing it's Tuesday! I have taken a little break from blogging but revisited my own today to put together some "word work" info for some visiting teachers tomorrow. I always love dialoguing with other teachers, especially eager one's. It sounds like the kindergarten teachers visiting tomorrow are eager to try some new things. So, here I am, on my computer, listening to some tunes, making plans and writing a little slice.

I have started talking more with my colleagues about some of my new writing ventures. Planning with other teachers is usually so validating and revs up my motivation. I started booklets in December and haven't looked back at the draft books (journals)...no more wavering. I am happy with my decision, still not positive I won't have to pull them out to appease others, but I am okay with that too. My students are writing books, they are smiling, I heard "the buzz" in the room today and felt fulfilled. 
Word work is continuing to go well. I started a review of vowels this week and I am seeing so many more medial sounds in my students writing, I love it when they take a chance.
We did three days straight in our drawing and writing notebooks to work through some drawing lessons last week. I see students taking a lot of pride in their work, they are always so surprised by what they can really do! "I can draw a person," is heard frequently.
The new year is a welcomed new beginning and I am chugging along happily! I hope your new year has been a happy beginning too.
thanks for visiting :)