Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Need your suggestions...and some Motrine!

Doing ww when you're getting sick and PMSing is no fun! I hope it didn't show today. I was pretty cranky with all the talking. It's so nice to have another person in the room who can do a reality check. Sheryl said it didn't seem any different than usual. For the life of me I couldn't concentrate on my conferring...all those talking kids! :) It's all coming back to me!

Here are my thoughts/observations from the day:
1. We've got one student who always comes up to us and wants to confer the very first thing. I assure him that he will always get a conference, but that he can't interrupt. Doesn't seem to work. Maybe I'll just ignore him when we're watching the room after the mini lesson and then say he's welcome to listen to my conference with another student as I go about my business. Any suggestions?
2. We have two students, R and S, who copied each other's story and basically wrote about a horse with a rainbow over it and a pretty flower and a sunshine day. Their pictures were identical. R. was very insistent that this happened and her energy went down during the conference when I suggested she needs to write a small moment story. S. was encouraged when she thought of a small moment idea and began talking and smiling a lot. We could have talked for a long time. I asked if she was scared about getting the uh-oh feeling in her tummy when she came upon a word or idea that was hard to draw/write. I encouraged her to just do her best...and referred back to the story I shared that had the "bad" drawing that made me look like a monkey. I did that on purpose to show the kids that it was ok. Hopefully, that modeling helps them take some risks.
3. Sheryl put post-its with labels on P's paper today after he told her what it was. He's still doing stories that are totally made up...punching a volcano, but he did have text and pictures today...however unreadable. I think that was a good move with him. She did move him forward.
4. We've got several kids who are only doing text right now...and lots of it. I need to think about how to move with them. Do we give them new paper with lines and let them go for it...or do we just say you can do that, but you also need pictures?
5. Now we're getting into messy territory. The kids are moving in all sorts of directions and this is when we really need to think...it's gets interesting, but messy!
6. Whenever a memorable shared moment happens during class, file it in your brain. For example, today a spider dropped down in front of the camera and its shadow was reflected on the Smart Board. The kids went wild. I grabbed it in my hand and took it outside. If I was really thinking on my feet, I would have mentioned that was a great writing idea. I will probably use it during some teacher writing in front of the class during a mini lesson.
7. What are your thoughts about letting kids choose their genres right now? Should they stay with small moment pieces or can they go to fact books, fiction stories, etc?

Ok...sick and need some sleep. Until next week ww women! Lorrie

Monday, February 2, 2009

Conferring and Share Meeting Idea of the Day

Hi Ladies,
I hope observing was helpful today. Were there any surprises about how the ww looked? I'm curious to know.

Here are my thoughts for the day:
1. If we observe a student not writing (and not apparently thinking about writing), we might want to pull them into a conference we're doing...if we can't confer with them right at that moment. I had to confer with P. and noticed S. not doing anything. I asked him to join the conference, but didn't really talk to him while I conferred with P. After I finished working with P and walked away, I noticed that S. began writing/illustrating. I like it when kids listen in on conferences. It can't hurt. Often, we're saying things that apply to everyone, especially if we end the conference with a big idea...ALL WRITERS do such and such...not just focusing on a specific task for one piece.
2. I tried to take on too much for the mini lesson today. I tend to bird walk and bring in too much information...i.e. too much talking! Focus. Focus. That's why I often like sticking with Lucy's mini lessons b/c they are really focused.
3. For tomorrow, I think I'm going to revisit using pictures and words like famous authors. I'm going to show examples of ways students are doing that by using their writing. When I find pieces, I am going to look at kids who haven't been highlighted in share meetings yet...unless I see a piece that just must be shared due to its teaching possibilities. Make copies of student work for next year.
4. I like how we did the share meeting today. Kids turned to their talking partners, took out a piece, and shared one smart thing they did during ww today. Instead of calling on students to share, I said, "I heard lots of smart comments like..." That got things finished quickly.
5. When we get to the end of this unit of study, what do you guys want to do with the pieces in their folders? Keep them in another folder in the room? Send them home? Usually, the units end with picking one piece, publishing and sharing it during a ceremony called "reading into the circle."

Cheers, Lorrie