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

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