Monday, August 15, 2011

Family Journals- Setting the Expectation

K in May
 Family Journals provide one of the the most authentic ways for our students to reflect on their learning and deepening understandings and from the past week. They can put to practice all of the purpose and audience, word choice, and organizational patterns they know about. In this very real venue, even our youngest writers can transfer their learning about conventions (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) so that their message is clear to their reader.

While we must set our expectations high for our students, it's equally important to set expectations for our parents. How do we do this? Simply inform them. Send home an example letter and some guidance about how you want them to respond to their child. Let families know that these journals are a conversation on paper with their child and model of real world writing.

Looking to set the bar a little higher? Consider writing a new model letter for parents to use as their model this year. If you find yourself stumped in this area, simply search the /S/ drive under my folder and check out the model I would have written in Keaton's this week (had he brought it home.) It's not too long, not too short, but just right for responding to a child's week of learning and sharing.        Good Luck!!

5th - Notice Paragraphing

Examples, Examples, Examples

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Podcast Clip about Reading Like a Writer with Lester Laminack

In this podcast, Franki Sibberson chats with Lester Laminack about how he reads as a writer, and what teachers might do to develop this skill in their students. Lester is the author of beloved books for children and teachers, including Saturdays and Teacakes and Unwrapping the Read Aloud.*
Just push the play arrow on the bar before the transcript.

Whether you're just starting out, or have been teaching for many moons, it's worth your time and  you can even segment parts to share with students (after they have heard a book and establish a relationship with/context for him.) 

Lester talks about:
  • connecting to text
  • themes and messages
  • the importance of setting
  • detail diarrhea :) (the sister sickness of what I call "dialog-arrhea")
  • reading like a writer
*I've got both books (and one more!) in my room for you to check out! Great memoir and teaching texts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What's a Workshop?

It’s that time of year again! The time when we ask our students to think about the very important question, “So, what is a workshop?” We know most of them have experienced it and have plenty of schema to share with their classmates, so why don’t we find a new avenue for tapping into their background knowledge? Skip the 3 column “How does it feel, look and sound like?” chart this year and let them author their own book- The Important Workshop Book.

This year, as you read Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book, pose the question, “What do you think is important about a workshop? And WHY do you think that? By partaking in this meaning making experience, your students will be:

• engaging their brains a thinkers

• participating in a shared reading experience

• sharing their schema

• building community

• determining importance (key ideas)

• inferring readers’ needs

• connecting previous understandings with new understandings (making meaning)

• participating in the writing process

       o writing descriptively (vocabulary & details)

       o crafting complete sentences

       o considering words, conventions, and print features

       o practicing punctuation

       o publishing a class book

• illustrating to match pictures to written text

• exercising comprehension and collaboration through teamwork and presenting

• integrating the curriculum

• unleashing their creativity for a purposeful product

• …and the list goes on.

So this year, when you’re looking for a new way to tap into your students’ schema and set the expectations for your workshops, consider crafting a class book. You can refer to this text throughout the year when things are “not quite what they used to be”, or send mini-copies home to parents to inform them about how their child learns at school. Rest assured this is learning event is more than “cute”—it “counts” by getting at the understanding and meets our building code. * What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, it will be fun. ;)

Please let me know if you are interested in me modeling this lesson or coteaching it with you!

*ELA standards- RL.1, RL.2, RL.3, RL.4, RL.5, RL.6, RL.7, RL.9; W.1, W.4, W.5, SL.1, SL.2, SL.3, SL.6; L.1, L.2, L.3, (L.4, L.5) L.6