Friday, January 30, 2009

Sharing Methods: To Document Camera not?

Beth (Empress of WW) just made a great point...have the kids hold their piece and share without using the document camera. She said that kids will "read" more language aloud than they have on their paper. The verbal part is a big goal for them right now. I'm going to try this during Monday's share meeting and compare the difference.

Just one more thing....teacher writing folders

Sheryl and I have our own writing folders. It's key for kids to see us with our own writing. As I do pieces during mini lessons, I'm keeping them in my own writing folder. They can also be used to model filing and organization for the kids.


Share Meeting Blunder...

One more thing I just thought of...even though our share meeting was good would have been even better to highlight students who drew hard-to-draw ideas! Duh. That would have connected with the mini lesson and was what I intended to do...but forgot! We can always do it next week.

Cheers from a work in progress, Lorrie

Comments from the Conferring Frontlines...

Okay ladies...another week down and I think it went pretty well. So glad that Dionne had a better go of it. Amazing how having a curriculum helps. :)

Here's what went down today:
1. I continued the mini lesson about adding difficult to draw ideas. I told the kids that writers also act like researchers and read like writers...looking for examples of ways they can draw things from picture books. I brought a stack of books in that will help me draw dogs for my story. I also brought an ad that came in the mail with a dog drawing. Writers are always on the look-out for writing resources and ideas.
2. I like putting stickers on pieces when we've conferred. I also remembered to date the pieces. We need to teach the students how to do that. Sheryl was doing dating items during calendar today so it really fits with what they're learning.
3. I bee-lined for P. when we started conferring. I told him I'd been thinking about him a lot and that we needed to look back at the piece with the storm and the vacuum. I said that it was possible that I misunderstood his story and that it's fine to use words to tell me I'm not understanding. I asked him how the picture, the vacuum, and and number were related. He said...the vacuum was a rocket and it was a billion day long storm....He totally started going off in another direction. Maybe I didn't misunderstand so much! I probed a bit more...but wasn't getting any meaning from him. I changed directions and started asking him to label everything on the page. Since my goal was to get words out of his mouth. I wrote everything on a post - it. To get him to spell words and write at that point would have been total cognitive overload. Still no meaning coming through after that! Since he had labeled a winter storm and summer storm I said (in a very directive way)...why don't you do a fact book about winter and summer? He was excited about that and seemed to have direction. We had a short discussion about the difference between small moment stories and fact books. As I was getting up to leave he said he was going to copy my story.,..actually draw me and Roo, our dog. Ahga;ldkjfa;dlkfjldk!!!!! I asked if he had a dog. He said yes and I suggested that he write a story about a time with his dog. Off he went...Talk about an all over the place conference...and yet, doesn't that mirror a lot of P's thinking?
4. Sheryl was mentioning that a lot of kids need to extend their stories a bit more...they are writing one page quickies. I agree. They are ready for it. The next mini lesson in Lucy Calkins book is telling stories with pictures AND words...that might help with extending the ideas. The rest of my conferences today dealt with that issue...taking one detail from the first page and highlighting it on the next page.
5. I had a pretty high level conference with E. today. He was trying to show something that he hopes will happen in the future. His words and picture didn't show that. I told him that writers have to think of ways to show time...past, present, or future....I asked how he could do it. He said with words...and then he did it. I also asked how he could do that with pictures...He said he'd put his entire picture in a bubble. I understand that reader's outside our class probably wouldn't understand what the bubble means...but he's trying to do something very abstract and to push him further would have been too much. As long as he made an attempt and it has meaning to him today...then I think it was enough for that conference. As he gets older...he'll have the knowledge as a writer and he will be able to do it in ways that have broader meaning. This is a perfect example of teach the writer...not the writing. Get it?
6. I think a good rotation for next week will be finding examples for the "I'm not scared of my words" poster...go through the writing folders and have a couple kids for each rotation...let them sign the poster, we write their spelling and then show the conventional spelling...also demonstrating stretching out words as we write it on the poster.
7. During our share meeting, Sheryl asked if kids should be doing more than only pictures...especially one student who definitely should and might be squirreling around a bit ! This very smart kid mentioned NO DAVID and said that the story hardly had any words so why can't he do that too? I responded that C. should find several friends and ask them to read his story. If each friend can understand the story without words, just relying on the picture...great. But if they can't, it's probably a good sign that words need to be added. Again, bring it back to what writers do. Writers always get someone to hear their pieces to see if the content is being understood. Also, I'm going to bring in A BAD CASE OF STRIPES, also written by David has lots of say that authors use different styles and don't write the same way all the time. David Shannon writes some books with few words and some books with lots of words.
8. I'll update the lists to the left after each ww day. Most recent appears at the top of the list.
9. Okay...signing off...I'm not checking this over for proper punctuation etc...just want to be consistent and get the conversation going...I hope you guys post!!!!!!

Have a great weekend! Lorrie

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thoughts from the shower

So two thoughts have been swirling in my head. First, I'm still thinking of how to move forward with P. (and the botched conference) plus I'm thinking about Dionne's comment about her student who wanted to write fiction about Batman...and that fact that she thought he would have written a better piece about that topic.

We have one student who wants to write nonfiction (P. and weather) and one student who wants to write fiction (Batman) when we're focusing on small true moments (mini memoirs).

This is a great opportunity...what's the problem with letting these kids do what they want to do? The beauty of K is that we're not tied to teaching specific genres (like the upper grade standards require). The only caution is that these students may need to circle back at some point and to demonstrate that they can write a small moment true piece.

Here's how I'm thinking of moving forward next:
1. Friday's mini lesson is still about drawing hard to draw ideas...I'm incorporating a book that a student brought. I will conference with P. and focus on getting him to verbalize what his original piece is about. Getting words out will be a success. Not concerned about text and more pictures. I will label his piece. "This is nonfiction."
2. Next week's mini lesson will move forward. I will bring a stack of small moment books and a stack of nonfiction books. "Writers, just like there are different sports...there are different kinds of books..." It will end up being a fiction/nonfiction mini lesson. In a rotation, kids might be able to sort the stacks?
3. In the next mini lesson, I will show P's. weather piece and another student's small moment piece..."Writers, which one is a small moment piece...which one is a nonfiction..or teaching me something piece?" Question: What's the K way of describing nonfiction?" And then end the mini lesson with telling students they can choose different kinds of ideas to write about.
5. My only concern is that mini lessons may get too broad and unfocused if we have kids writing lots of different genres. I know that Calkins and Katie Wood Ray do genre studies within all levels of their writing workshops now...and have moved away from the early versions of ww (i.e. Atwell) when kids could pick any genre any time...I think the move grew out of standards-based teaching.
4. I'm still thinking that an important mini lesson is teaching kids how to correct a TP/teacher if we misinterpret their writing. This could be done with a "fishbowl" demonstration conference at the front during a mini lesson. I could be the teacher...Sheryl could act like the kid...

Do you see what I mean by learning the most from my mistakes? A couple brief comments during our study group time led to lots of curriculum. This is what makes me so damn excited about writing workshop.

Nerdily yours, Lorrie

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another reason blogging will be good for us...

I won't interrupt and you'll get to say all you want.

Check out the lists to the left!

I'm going to keep a running list of what I cover during mini lessons. The most recent mini lesson is at the top. We can add yours to the list too.

I'm also keeping a list of share meeting topics. Remember, most of these are generated by what we observe kids doing during the writing portion of ww. I usually try to circle back to the mini lesson topic for reinforcement, but if a kid makes a writer's move that will help all writers in the class...I want it highlighted right away.

I try to choose topics for the mini lesson and share meeting that teach the WRITER...not specific pieces of writing. That way...the messages carries through time...not just for one piece. I think this blog thing is fun...especially for someone like me who likes to go on and on. Sheryl, your job will be to condense what I say into 6 words or less!

Cheers, Lorrie

The First Post!

Hi Ladies,
I hope this becomes a great way for us to communicate about our writing workshop adventure. I'm new to blogging, but I think it might be more convenient and less stressful.

Here's what I'm thinking about:
1. You need materials ASAP! Can you buy now and get reimbursed later? I'm giving Beth the DVDs today after school.
2. A picture's worth a thousand words: Ron and I are going to play with our quick video camera and see it it's easy to make CDs/DVDs so you can watch the lessons I teach...or I can use them for reference when I try to demonstrate a great OR LOUSY teaching move. I find that I learn most from my mistakes!
3. I'm going to confer with P. (I figure we should just use first initials of kids?) first on Friday. I've really been thinking about the issue of having a conference that I think is great...but really missing the boat. Maybe we should have a mini lesson that teaches kids to use their words to speak up if a teacher/TP is getting it all wrong. That's a great life lesson.
4. I was totally pumped about the way our workshop went on Monday. I really liked trying to only get to ten kids "officially" during one session. The energy was better and we were freed up to watch the workshop happening...and then make teaching decisions from there...and we actually got to more kids than other days. We'll see how Friday goes.
5. I'm wondering if we should make more paper options available.
6. S. (kid) and D. (mom) C. (last name) brought in a book to share...they noticed it from their library after our mini lesson with NO DAVID. They brought it because the pictures tell most of the story and the words are minimal. I'm going to highlight that in a mini lesson on Friday. I can use it to help me draw pictures of something tricky (it's about a dog)...which is a good lesson for all writers. Also, I can tell kids that S. and D. are reading like writers. They're looking at books in a new way. That's HUGE! What I love about this is that the class created the curriculum. They have ownership and we can take a moment to honor that. Very powerful.
7. If I can figure it out...I want to include a list of all our mini lessons and topics covered during share meetings.
8. Anything else that would be helpful?

Love and kisses, Lorrie (who should be cleaning the house, but is much more interested in this!)