Thursday, March 26, 2009

A comment about fixing up spelling

When you do the mini lesson for fixing up spelling, I think it's reasonable that kids reread their pieces and find one (or maybe two) words to RE-stretch and try their best to spell correctly. Don't try to get everything spelled correctly.

Cheers, Lorrie

Whoops...made an assumption about revision and editing

Sheryl and I did the mini lesson about fixing and fancying up student work in preparation for their publication party (called Reading into the Circle). This was a wild least for control freak me! Sheryl was fine with it! The kids did great...especially since they were doing something for the first time.

Our comments were focusing on getting parts readable...that others wouldn't be able to understand...basically...does this make sense? We also focused on adding more details, adding endings, spacing words, numbering pages, and stapling correctly.

I did make one blunder because I made an assumption and didn't explain something clearly to Sheryl. She was doing a conference with a student who had a very long piece. I think she was doing editing AND revision in ONE conference. On this first day of conferring I just did revision-type comments which is getting the piece to make sense and/or readable. I didn't touch spelling at all (which is pure editing). That's coming during our next ww session. Revision comes first. Editing second. And the two aren't combined. That's what I forgot to tell Sheryl and the teaching parents. Whoops. That's why the conference was taking so long. Whoops.

I took all the pieces home and I've still got some revision conferences to do. Then, we can move on to spelling, fancying up the pieces (with some color etc.), practicing the publication ceremony, and then having our official celebration.

We all need to discuss the next unit of study...which one to do?

Cheers, Lorrie

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An idea to help kids feel like they're sharing enough

I know it seems like I'm posting a lot right now. I think that's because I read the kids' pieces and it inspires a lot of ideas...this means reading the pieces all together at one sitting...not just the quick read we do as we're in the midst of conferring. I think that's a crucial and obvious part of this experience. I don't know how to get around the time factor, but maybe it's a good habit every two weeks or once a month. here's the sharing idea: Do a mini lesson about sharing pieces with friends during the ww. If a student really feels like they need to share...tell them they can do it during the writing portion of ww. We'd need to model this. They need to find another classmate, ask if they could take a minute to listen to a piece. We could teach them how to do sayback ( a response technique that's positive only) and/or kids could point to something the writer did in his/her piece that all writers can do too...from now and forever! Maybe with this option there won't be so much urgency during the share meeting portion of ww.

Ciao for now, Lorrie

Treasures discovered from reading their writing!

Hey Ladies,

I just finished reading all the pieces that came out of the lists and letters mini lesson. It was really interesting. You'll get a packet of my comments for each student (with a copy of their pieces).

We collected the pieces by saying...give us what you worked on today we didn't get their best work or favorite piece...we got work that came out of one day's can alter the way you collect work...favorite piece, piece that you're struggling with, piece you want a conference for etc.

1. I included a teaching point for each students. This is where I would head if I were to confer with that student. I noticed that several students need the same nudge. This is when I would do a group saves time and is really efficient, but it requires that you read the pieces before ww. I do think that should be happening at least every two weeks...for accountability and to see class progress as a whole.

2. Also, mini lessons jump out. You'll see all my comments about those too. I think mini lessons coming from the writing of students in the class are super powerful. It's curriculum that has meaning to the little bodies in the room right at that moment...and therefore (theoretically) will be listened to and applied!

Cheers, Lorrie

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Printing the blog at the end of each unit of study

Just a quick thought...I think I'll print our blog at the end of each unit of study so it's a handy reference for the next year.

Mini lessons on the playground

Hey Ladies,
1. Today I saw kids making lists during recess. S. was making a list of all the boys' and girls' names so her mom could learn their names. A real world application for writing. I also saw M. making a list of girls who would like to come to her summer pool party. She was letting girls sign their own names. Talking about this and letting kids know that their writing has REAL purposes is powerful.
2. I'm noticing a lot of potential with the list genre! It got P. (from Rasmussen's) writing yesterday. It brought tears to my eyes. Dionne and Beth, you've got to see it. Sheryl was great and didn't miss a chance to get him sharing at the end of ww.
3. I'm going to read what the kids wrote during ww yesterday. Sheryl and I started going over the pieces for a brief moment today and we noticed so many mini lesson possibilities. I'll post that list when it's done too.
4. Sheryl also mentioned that R. refers to her word box for spelling words. Sheryl conferred with her and noticed that she writes pony club a lot. Sheryl added those words to her word box for later "correct spelling" reference. That's a mini lesson right there...using resources from the room like real writers.
5. If we don't have time to do an additional day of ww, sharing mini lessons (like referring to the word boxes and procedural/behavioral structures) might be best explained during a rotation. What do you think about that?
6. Okay...gotta go prep lamb and mint jelly for Saint Patrick's Day...what a fun day you created for our kids!
Green cheers to you, Lorrie

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Day of Surprises: Lists and Letters

Here's what happened today!
1. Sheryl did the mini lesson. She told kids that there are many types of writing and introduced lists and letters. She modeled with her own writing which was great. The kids are getting to know their teacher as a writer which is critical! The examples were brief too. She created several templates for letters and lists. This was so helpful for a first introduction to these writing genres. At first I was a bit worried that they were too "worksheety," BUT the templates made it possible for Sheryl to introduce the genre quickly, model it, and send them off to write WITHOUT long, detailed directions. For today's purposes, that's just what the kids need. I love that they're getting such early exposure to REAL writing genres. There is no need at this moment for a k student to know where every comma goes...but because of her/her experience in the early years, it will make learning all the specific details that much easier...and the students may even ask questions that lead us to teach those details sooner than later. Make sense?
2. I had a really tough conference with J. today. He was moving all over, no eye contact, making sounds, but not communicating. I decided we might do better if we sat outside. No much difference. He was very interested in his Star Wars magazine and seemed to be doing lots of pictures with no text. I tried to get him to tell me what he was working on as a writer. Nothing. I tried to get him to talk about his magazine. No luck. He really kept persisting with his magazine. Finally, I told him to pick some pictures from the magazine, put a one word label with each picture...and I called it quits. Thought it was a total failure. However, by the end of the workshop, he made a list of pictures from the magazine and did write labels (very hard to read...but he did write). So in truth, he did exactly what I told him to do. Hmmm. I don't feel like it was a great "writing" move, but he did pick up on the idea of list-making from Sheryl's mini lesson. During the share meeting, I showed J.'s magazine and said that writers look at other resources for ideas and information.
3. I think we need to tighten up the share meeting at the end of the workshop. Kids aren't listening that well. All of them want to share and are having a hard time realizing that they don't get to share every day. Maybe I'm doing too much talking? Maybe we need to model how to sit and listen? Maybe we need to model how to share a piece so the rest of the class can hear it? These are all mini lessons that would happen on an additional day of ww...and they are essential lessons that can't just be tacked on to the end of a day. It might also be important have quick moments when kids can share with their talking partners each time we have ww. If we were doing more days of ww, would this be such a problem...because there would be more opportunity to share?
4. Sheryl had a great idea today. During our five minutes of golden silence, TPs are writing too. She made a TP writing folder so they can save their writing and refer to it as needed.
5. For the next mini lesson, I would refer to the page in manual "if kids need more time"...I think the class needs another day to play with lists and letters. Also, I collected the writing kids did today. The next mini lesson may come out of that writing. We'll see.
6. One tip for doing mini's a time to do very direct teaching. Don't call on kids too much because they can do some amazing birdwalks and slow the pacing. It's a quick, focused lesson.
7. I just started reading Chapter 8 in the Katie Wood Ray book...Understanding That Slightly Out-Of-Hand Feeling in the Workshop. What a great chapter. I do think we need a bit more presence in the room right now with behavior and making sure kids are doing the important work of writers and not JUST socializers! Of course, I may also be a control freak! Ha. Here's a quote that makes me feel ok about that wild feeling: " And until we as teachers, make peace with this, make peace with the fact that the work that children do inside our well-organized, well-managed structures will always feel just beyond our control and a little messy, we will never know the rewards that come from having children deeply involved in their own writing."
Okay...that's all for now.
8. That's it for now.
Cheers, Lorrie