Monday, October 29, 2012

Wordless and Wonderful...What Happened?

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

I was excited to bring all my new wordless books into school today. Heavy on my shoulder but worth every strained muscle!  (A few trips to the library were necessary this weekend).
Writers workshop began and I pulled out The chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodriguez. This is what happened.

"I am really excited to share this book with you today. It's called The Chicken Thief. Béatrice Rodriguez is the author and the illustrator. You are going to be amazed at what she has done in this book."
I show the first page, "What do you notice?"
Students begin calling out observations. "The fox took the chicken...the bear is mad...they're chasing each other...foxes eat chickens...there aren't any words."
"Isn't it amazing that Béatrice Rodriguez told you this whole part of her story with no words?" 

I'm not kidding you when I say this, I think there was a look of awe in their eyes. We have been talking at length about "showing" your whole story with detailed drawings. It is a big feat!

"She put all those details and even got you thinking about what might happen with just her first picture."

We continued and the class came up with all kinds of observations, details, predictions...this went on for several minutes. I was actually beginning to get concerned about the time, but everyone was so engaged I had to keep going with my plan.

So, I pulled out all my wordless books of the day, most of them are listed and pictured here. I paired up the students and gave them a wordless book to wonder over and notice together. Then we joined back at the "sharing circle" and each pair told what their book was all about. The stories they told were full of details and amazing verbal stories. We all listened intently and they went out to write their own stories. It was a fun day. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we can think more closely about how "we" can be like Béatrice Rodriguez and the other wordless book authors, seeing a story through just the picture with details a plenty! 

Here is the list of books I used in my lesson today:
The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodriguez
Rooster's Revenge by Béatrice Rodriguez
Fox and Hen Together Béatrice Rodriguez
Rain by Peter Spier
Time Flies Eric Rohmann
Moonlight by Jan Ormerod
The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
Bear Despair by Gaëtan Dorémus
Ice by Arthur Geisert
The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

Wordless and Wonderful

Join Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and share your picture books or YA reading!

We have been a focused little bunch in my kindergarten classroom working to draw pictures that tell a story. In an effort to continue to show some great examples of well illustrated stories I have been on a hunt for more wordless books. Here were my findings.

Enchanted Lion Books has a six book series that includes three authors of "Stories Without Words." The titles include Ice and The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert. The chicken Thief, Fox and Hen Together, and Rooster's Revenge a trilogy of stories by Béatrice Rodriguez. Bear Despair, the most recent publication by Gaëtan Dorémus. Each one of these stories has captivating characters with simple yet detailed illustrations. Some of the illustrations are done only with pen. Some are ink and watercolor with the characters darkly outlined. I am so excited to have come across these books. They are just the thing I need to show how details can be done in simple ways while carrying a big message.

I also came across the book Looking Down by Steve Jenkins. This book is illustrated with torn paper and cutouts. It begins with a look from space and each page zeros in closer to the final page, a magnified illustration. I think I will save this one for later when I introduce maps and globes in our social studies units.

Finally, The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. This is a story of a dog who finds an umbrella that becomes his transport across the world. A beautiful book and a fantastic story of the awe that would be if one experienced the world in this way.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to Begin Building Independence in the Youngest Writers

Writers are being born in my classroom. It is so exciting to watch the layers of a new writer strengthen and tighten into a little crafter of words. I think one of the biggest challenges when teaching the youngest writer is knowing when to teach him to get his words down and how to do it! There is an impression that little one's can't write or that it isn't appropriate. However, there isn't just one formula to this magic; you have to know your crafter's talents. These talents are his strengths, things he can do when no one else is around. To find this out you have to monitor the work. When he talks is it organized, is there a main idea or is it disjointed phrases and a lot of little pieces of many stories? Are his pictures detailed and recognizable or does he have to point out where the people and objects that form his story have taken shape? I could write a whole post on monitoring so let me get back to the birthing of words.
Here is a rather "direct" set of directions that will get you and if you are lucky your teaching aid or volunteer heading in the right direction to create independence in your young writers. I give this set of directions to anyone who enters into my writers workshop time because children know adults usually cave to their demand of "can you do this for me?"

Writers Workshop Instructions

In a later post I will share a detailed description of a continuum that I created to help guide and focus my teaching. It is based on my monitoring of student work coupled with the different teaching stages of the process for young writers.

My learning has come from having great colleagues who dialogue with me, wonderful resources like Assessing and Teaching Beginning Writers  Every Picture Tells a Story, by David M. Matteson and Deborah K. Freeman, work from Katie Wood Ray like About the Authors, of course the book Talking Drawing Writing by Mary Ellen Giacobbe and Martha Horn (these people are my rock stars) and finding myself on blogs like Two Writing Teachers and other greats on the blogosphere.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What's That?

On this colorful drippy day go visit Linda at Teacherdance for an extraordinary poetry experience.

trees dripping
a storm of leaves
tsunamis of color
a confusing blur
I double look
as remainders approach
like little toads
across my path.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Listen to Life

Join in with a little life story at Two Writing Teachers.

I went to the apple orchard this weekend. Got my donut, cider, watched my kids enjoy all the activities, took photos of the amazing pumpkin crop, it was wonderful. A sun shiny grass glistening kind of morning.

My children's favorite activity was the enormous slide. You have to walk a hill to get to the top, wait in a moderately long line and then WHEEEE!

My husband and I sat on one of several available benches that are near the bottom and listened as child after child came down.

Every little face was elated. Huge smiles and giggles were everywhere. It was pure and un-messed with joy that almost always ran from the bottom of the slide back up the hill and into the line for more!

We sat there and listened to life. It was magical.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dinner Conversation

Yesterday, after dinner...
"Mom, can I get one of those things like you and dad?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"You know one of those things you and dad write poetry in."
"A writer's notebook?"
"Yeah, can I get one?"
(chills) "Of course you can get one, maybe this weekend we can go pick out a special one."

This evening after walking in the door from school...
"Hey dad when are you gonna take me to get a writer's notebook because I really want to get one tonight, can we go to the store?"
(Shawn) "Well, I really thought we would wait until this weekend, but let's see if we have time after dinner."

(Mom and dad have a conversation that the pharmacy/everything under the sun store down the road might have a notebook).

After dinner and a short trip...

And, he's already put a poem on the first page inspired by one of his favorite Jack Prelutsky poems, "High Atop a Lofty Mountain."

This kid has a lot of notebooks, but I think he knows that there is something special about "this" notebook. There's definitely something special about him. Love this seven year old.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Poetry Friday is Here!

  As you may have noticed Amy from The Poem Farm and I traded hosting days. If you normally keep the Poetry Friday schedule on your page please post the change. Amy will be hosting on November 30th.
I am so excited and honored to be joined by amazing and inspiring writers, readers and thinkers today. Thank you for celebrating poetry with me at Teaching Young Writers. My poetry offering is meant to inspire you to see beyond your troubles, pain, suffering or struggle. Our stories are written chapter by chapter. 

I live in a community that has a reputation for violence. However, I am so proud of the young people in this same community who refuse to be defined by negativity, who refuse to live in a world that doesn't hear them and who refuse to sit by and watch their community crumble. These same young adults organized a march of more than 2,000 students, parents, and community members from theirs and surrounding communities to show that "We Are One" following an act of violence wrongly generalized as an act of the community's public school's students. I heard them and I hope others will heed their message of hope.  
I have once again found myself on the near other side of a painful chapter in life. I am so close I can practically see how much better life will be once I am through it. Different types of pain, different struggles, it is what makes us who we are. The struggle is worth it once we have found ourselves on the other side of the pain we have felt and lived through. Everyone feels pain differently, literally, figuratively, excruciatingly, negatively...multiple ways. But we all feel it. We all live it and hopefully we all move to the chapter beyond it. I first posted the poem below in March (my first time posting to Poetry Friday) after living a long chapter of very literal pain that after years of searching for a means to health was slayed. I could only write this once I was well beyond it, but I still feel my victory.

The Chapter Beyond Pain

I have known pain 
I will know it again.

A crime against pain I would commit
With no shame.
It distracts me, attacks me.
In its scope it will track me.

Pain is blinding and binding
Debilitating without discriminating.
Pain can prickle or trickle
Throw me down without thought.

When faced in its arena
It counts me as weak
It stands confident before me
Intimidating, me bleak.

But I choose what I see
In those moments of pain. 
Though distant, I see it,
My weapon to slay.

I reach out for it
Grabbing that place beyond pain
My defense from the wounds
From worries and shame.

I have known pain 
I will know it again.

I will be swinging my lasso throughout the day as time allows to summarize the poetic offerings of this enlightening community. Hope you can stop back often to share in the greatness.
Early Risers:
  • Renée LaTulippe, from No Water River brings us some GOOD NEWS, a celebratory GIVEAWAY, and an interview with poet CARRIE FINISON, who is sharing her fun poetry video for "Idunno." 
  • Charles Ghigna, is harvesting the Fruit of the Moon Tree at Father Goose. Go read his poem and check out the accompanying artwork by Chip Ghigna.
  • Sylvia Vardell shares A Clam by Jack Prelutzsky at THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY along with some great teaching tips for this week's theme, In the Water.
  • Myra invites us to read and eat some poetry at GATHERING BOOKS
  • Robyn Hood Black at Read, Write, Howl tells us where seconds graders find poetry. 
  • Dian Mayr At Randlom Noodling has an original poem, "With a Bang and a Flash." She also invites us to visit Kurious Kitty with a very old poem from China and KK's Kwotes quote for today is by Czeslaw Milosz.
  • April Halprin Wayland from Teaching Authors shares a patient poem and a writing workout as she wrestles with realizing that maybe her writing life ISN'T going to go the way she thinks it's supposed to...
  • Linda at Teacherdance is celebrating her birthday today (I am singing the Happy Birthday song right now so join in everybody). She brings us a poem about Columbus Day with mixed feelings.
  • Tabatha Yeatts from The Opposite of Indifference brings a collection of J.R. Solonche.
  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm has a little poem about a little brother who is no longer just observing his world, but crawling into it!
  • Heidi Mordhorst shares a wonderful Ode on Dictionaries at My Juicy Little Universe.
  • Mary Lee comes to us from A Year of Reading with a poem of change. 
  •  Jama is celebrating Fall at Jama's Alphabet Soup today with a 4-book Janet Wong giveaway!
  •  Jeff Barger At NC Teacher Stuff, is featuring a football poem penned by the late Steve Sabol.
  •  Laura at Author Amok is featuring poet Tony Medina's children's books from now until the presidential election. You'll also want to check out the wonderfully rich verse biography of Bob Marley, I AND I BOB MARLEY and the book trailer!
  • Laura Purdie Salas from  Writing the World for Kids  is in with another poem from the beautiful new National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry, with a link to the classroom guide!
  • Liz Steinglass at Growing Wild has an original poem about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was targeted by the Taliban because she is a vocal advocate for girls' education.  
  • Katya Czaja from Write. Sketch. Repeat. shares a poem from Kipling's The Vampire. She has an interesting unraveling of information including a related play and a movie.
  • Anastasia Suen from Booktalking shares Self-Portrait With Seven Fingers, a biography of Marc Chagall in free verse.
  • Jone is featuring one of  Irene Latham's original poems titled "Window," at Check It Out.
  • Steven Withrow from Crackles of Speech shares an original tanka poem, a poetry form from classical Japan.
  • Tara from A Teaching Life brings a poem called Courage and an inspiring heartfelt story about the struggles of a young girl living in Pakistan.
  • Karen Edmisten shares a delightful "October," by Robert Frost.
  • Andromeda Jazmon from A Wrung Sponge has an original poem titled "Missing Cat" that follows a trimeric form. 
  • Matt Forrest from Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme is featuring "The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue," and for the first time his recorded reading of the piece. 
  • Little Willow at Bildungsroman shares a quote from The Mathematician's Apology by Hardy.
  • Sylvia Vardell was back for more from her own blog Poetry for Children to share a great list of text sets for young writers (it's like she wrote it for me, I love it)!
  • Ruth from There is no such thing as a God-Forsaken town brings us a poem that reminds us most things in life are invisible. 
  • Elaine Magliaro from Wild Rose Reader takes us into her childhood with a poem of burning leaves and memories. 
  • The Write Sisters have a poem by Cheyenne poet, Lance Henson.
  • Marjorie at Paper Tigers brings an animated poem to the party.
  • MotherReader is reviewing and sharing a poem from Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It.
  • Lorie Ann Grover gives us a two-fer with a one sentence poem at On Point and Readertotz will have you saying "be-doodly dum be doodly day!"
  • Mrs. Merrill's Book Break features a poem by Charles Ghigna called "The Scary Dictionary."
  • Doraine Bennett shares a poem by James Dickey at Dori Reads.
  • Kort brings us some prose from Dorianne Laux. Go read some powerful words over at One Deep Drawer.
  • Joy has ideas for a Halloween costume. If you haven't made your decision yet check out her poem at Poetry for Kids Joy.


Wow, what a delight today has been. I have been showered in a vast variety of words and phrases and loved it from start to finish. If you post late or even tomorrow I will be back to add you so don't be shy, join in!