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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oops! Don't forget to model.

Here are the latest thoughts from the world of writing workshop:
1. I had fun doing the "stretching out our stories" mini lesson. This is a big step for kids and will really open up their writing worlds. Ironically, it's the same thing I found myself saying to upper grade kids. This one takes a long time to master.
2. At the end of our workshop on Tuesday, I told the kids to share what they wrote that day with their talking partners...about one minute each. Oops! I did it without modeling. Sheryl and I stopped the chaos and modeled a sharing moment together. Sometimes I forget those teaching basics.
3. It would have been better to model the sharing procedure in a mini lesson the next prep for it better and devote more time...instead of piling it on Tuesday's workshop. This is when I think three days a week would be best for our situation. Doing two days of pre-planned mini lessons and then one day with a mini lesson that generated by needs we see arising during class. I think I'm trying to pile too much into the two days and that creates a lot of teacher talking!
4. Hopefully, we can finish this unit of study right before spring break. We need to talk about the next unit of study...which one to do.
5. Beth and Dionne, are you feeling supported enough? After spring break, I'm wondering if it would be a good idea for Sheryl to take over the Monday workshop in room 6, I'll still do Tuesdays Room 6...but then I can come one morning a week to observe/coach/help confer/do mini lessons...whatever you the other K rooms...maybe just for April? Also, do you want some lunch meetings or after school moments to talk about ww...whatever you need is fine with me...well, within reason! Just let me know.
6. I think it might be a good idea to tape some of my conferences. What do you think? Do I need to get some permission slips for that?
7. Thanks so much for being so fearless and going for it! You ladies amaze me!
Cheers, Lorrie

Monday, March 9, 2009

Using Beth's Conferring Form

One more thing...we started using Beth's conferring form today. I think it's going to be much better. We can see student's progress easily. Thanks for the idea!

Golden silence and a change to the share meeting

Hi Writing Ladies,
Thanks for coming to our inquiry group at lunch. I loved all the comments and quotes that were shared.
Here's what happened in ww today in Room 6:
1. After the mini lesson (which was about stretching our stories into longer pieces, not giving everything away in the first - or one and only - page), we had Golden Silence time - five minutes of EVERYONE in the room writing and no talking at all. The kids really liked it. I think it's a good thing to have as a regular part of ww. Also, the kids were so excited when Sheryl shared her piece at the end of workshop. They get to know her as a writer and that's more powerful than anything. Sheryl's enthusiasm for her story was great and contagious!
2. Conferring was good today (for me at least!). I talked to E. and S. about stretching their stories with more details. They both had an entire story on one page. We talked a while, they told me their stories, and I asked questions. Then we got more paper. We planned out what would be on each page orally. We touched and turned the blank pages just like we were reading their story if it had already been written.
3. S. and J. also had moments when people were talking in their stories. I told them to surround the talking parts with quotation marks. That's a writer's trick to show people talking. They were excited about this. We shared this during the share meeting and I bet we'll see other kids doing this now too. I made a big deal about quotation marks being a fifth grade standard and that we have to keep our new knowledge top secret. K students aren't supposed to know it yet!
4. During the share meeting, I asked ALL kids to keep out the writing they did today. They showed/read their story to their talking partner on the rug for two minutes - one minute each. I think this needs to be a regular part of ww...everyone gets to share, they begin to gain a sense of audience, and it helps with accountability...they know they need to have something in their hands each and every day. A. didn't write anything today and that made sharing time hard for her. Maybe tomorrow, she'll write something. We can only hope!

Ok...that's all for today. Got to get ready for the inservice!
Cheers, Lorrie

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

One more thing...A. (my sweet daughter) seems to be writing the same piece over and over and not producing a lot of writing. Don't know what's going on here. She's capable. Wondering if it's the dynamic with me in the room...or wanting it to be perfect so she's a bit paralyzed. I don't interact a lot with her during ww b/c we try to avoid conferring with our own kids. Hmmm. She seems to stay with one piece for a very long time drawing lots of details...but writing LOTS of pieces (even if they are less developed) can sometimes be more beneficial...What to do?

Creating Our Own Mini Lesson and Finding Ideas to Write About

Here's what's on my mind today:
1. Sheryl and I are going to start using Beth's conferring form. I think it will be great.
2. Sheryl and I were noticing that kids want more time to share. They also needed to organize their folders and see if any of their "finished" projects could use more details. Sheryl did a mini lesson about putting "in progress" pieces in the left side and "finished" projects in the right side. We did a little role-playing. Sheryl was the teacher and I was the student. I used my writing folder and Sheryl showed me how to organize it. After modeling, we sent the kids off to organize their folders. They were done pretty quickly and had an opportunity to share their favorite piece with a friend.
3. We're getting close to the end of our first unit of study. This means students will pick their favorite piece, publish it, and share it during a special celebration ceremony. I think organizing their folder helps students begin to think of making their "favorite" selection. By sharing a piece with friends, they begin an awareness of audience and what it feels like to publish. Hopefully, this helps improve the quality of writing.
4. Beth and I had a discussion about selecting ideas to write about. We do need to teach students HOW to come up with ideas for writing (think about what happened during the last few days, read a book, talk to a friend, stare into space, etc.), but I hesitate to generate lists of ideas
for kids. It's essential that students know we expect them to come up with ideas. That's the real work of a writer. Of course, we need to help them learn HOW to do this with lots of mini lessons. I do keep a list of ideas in my folder for quick reference (and because I forget them as quickly as I think of them). I like to show kids this list. I suggest that it might be a good idea for kids to make their own lists too...but I do not tell them to write an idea about a place or a pet or a recess adventure...and I don't say...everyone make your own list today. It's a possibility and they can do it if they want to.
5. J. shared one of his pieces today. It made sense...things he does with his dad. Sheryl and I were wondering if he stapled all the pages together because it was quite a cohesive piece. We talked about how his lead was a hook...we wanted more information and it made us curious enough to turn the page and keep reading. I'm pretty sure this was unintentional...but it was there...and I was relieved that we could say something very positive and writerly!
6. Tired!
7. Next week we talk about making booklets!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

I can't believe it's been a month since I posted. The flu is fun!

Writing workshop is continuing to go fabulously. Sheryl is doing mini lessons now and she's "rocking" them! It's exciting to see another teacher excited about doing ww and taking risks! All the Lucy Calkins materials have arrived too.

Here are the latest thoughts:
1. Sheryl and I want to do an expert list. Ask the kids what they're experts at so other kids in the class can use them for references.
2. For a rotation tomorrow, we're going to ask students to bring their writing folders and share words they tried to spelled fearlessly. We'll add kid spelling/conventional spellings to our "I'm Not Scared of My Words" poster. This is a Katie Wood Ray idea and I think it really encourages kids to "go for" their spelling.
3. Last week I did a mini lesson that included a list of writing ideas. Later, in the car, A. mentioned that I took all her ideas...making an assumption that only one person could write about an idea. We clarified that in a mini lesson today. No one owns certain ideas. All of us can write ideas that we choose, especially since we all have different perspectives about experiences etc. This led to a discussion about idea gathering. We'll revisit this, but we quickly discussed ways to find ideas: a. sit and think b. reflect back on things you did the last few days c. talk to a friend d. ask a friend to read their piece to you e. read books in the class etc.
4. Sheryl and I are noticing that kids really want more time to share. It's so hard to say NO to them. We are also noticing that their folders are very full. Tomorrow, we're going to discuss organizing folders (left side for pieces in progress and right side for completed projects) and long term projects. We aren't going to write, but organize. Then, we'll ask kids to pick one piece to share and we'll have an extended share time. I love that we can be flexible when the need arises in the workshop.
5. G. made a list of his favorite books today. During our conference, I told him he'd branched out to a different genre of writing (list writing which is discussed in an upcoming mini lesson). Wow. I shared his writing during end of workshop meeting, telling kids that just like there are different sports, there are also different genres of writing.
6. I had a very difficult conference with J. today. His folder is a total mess. He was disruptive during writing time. I couldn't get him to focus on anything. He was drawing people/flowers on a page and wrote the word "you." He wanted to write "people." I asked him to tell me what he was planning on doing. He was defiant. Wouldn't talk. I suggested that writers envision their ideas in their head first. Then, they write. Asked again, "What's your idea?" I couldn't get anywhere. Had to keep taking things out of his hands. Finally, needed to move on and said he could come get me if he wanted to talk about an idea. I felt conflicted about leaving him...but also needed to get along to other writers. Help!
6.5 Several kids are ready to do booklets so they can include all the details they are able to articulate verbally now. I did two conferences today about using more than two pages since that small space can't possibly hold all the details for their big ideas. We got extra pages and I had the kids tell the stories aloud. We planned where each detail would go.
7. Beth has a great recording form for conferring. She uses one form per student so the progression of work/conference notes is all in one place. I want to talk to Sheryl about doing this when we start the next unit.
8. We should be done with this unit of study by the end of March, culminating with a celebration. The pace seems good to me. What would it be like if we were doing ww more than two days a week?
9. Our collaborative inquiry group meets next week to discuss Katie Wood Ray's ww book. Looking forward to that.

More tomorrow - Lorrie