Friday, November 8, 2013

From the Dump to the Destination-Making our Way to Step Up with StopLIghts

Do you find that when you sit down to confer, or collect and analyze your student's writing that it looks a little like this?
The Dump

You know it, and I know it, the child simply took all their schema for the topic of "golf" and threw it down on paper. We've seen plenty of writing like this, but we know there is hope, a path, a way.  So let's see what we know is achievable. Let's check out the kind of writing we can support our students in achieving and transferring in EVERYDAY life: on paper, in oral communication, in digital format, in any content area!

You may wonder, what does this FOCUSED, ORGANIZED, and DEVELOPED writing look like in print? What does it look like when a child really writes this way?

The Organized Paragraph

Sure, I love it, do they get there? Could they start with a web? Could they use a different graphic organizer? Might they just write that way from their heads? Yes, Yes, and Yes! (Mrs. Ruhl has even developed a way for students to take notes from research in a way that easily transfers to a well-organized (focused and developed) paragraph.)
The Outline
The Other Outline

The Web
The Draft

Does it work with all modes? Well, of course! All writers must develop and organize their writing in all modes. Whether they are linking facts and examples, or adding dialogue, snapshots, or thoughtshots, all writers begin, support, further support, close and transition their readers along the way. (Just ask Mrs. Puckett who has students "StopLighting" in narratives!)

See! It can be done!

Is it a set number of sentences for each grade level, mode, or from? No, no, and no. It's not a cookie cutter concept. It's closer in nature to an accordion-- expanding and contracting as the writer decides when a reader's needs are met.

Does this StopLight (Step-Up to Writing) paragraphing make you wonder? Does this idea cause you to be curious? Make you want to learn more and try it out with your kids? It has certainly done this for many of our BES teachers and I'm sure they'd be happy to share some of their knowledge, ideas, and experiences with you if you'd like to know more. (And they are not just asking their students to use this organizational trait in writer's workshop only. Just ask Mr. Parrot about this and see what his kids are doing with StopLighting in math, reading responses, and oral communication!)

Of course, you can always grab me and I'll be more than happy to be a thinking partner!
Here's to supporting our kids as deep thinkers and developed and ORGANIZED WRITERS!

Special thanks to lMarisol Hood, ELD 1,2 Teacher, Del Mar High School lAnissa Sharief, ELD Teacher, Del Mar High School
lSteve Sinclair, SCCOE, ELA Coordinator for sharing your PPT.
Looking for further resources?
Of course, you can also click the Soplight to the right or Google: Step Up to Writing

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Prepare My Students

TOP 10 Ways I Can Prepare My K-3 Students for
Marie Bradby’s Visit to Buckner
November 14, 2013

10) Play around with her website, to learn a little bit about her and her books.
You can also visit to learn about how she got started in her writing career!

9) Write about the visit (LET PARENTS IN ON IT!) in your newsletter/class website, or create a link to my website .

8) Listen to the newscast each morning for information about our exciting visit from Marie Bradby.

7) Look on her website and read HOW I WRITE and BIOGRAPHY to build the students’ schema.

6) Look on her website at the BOOKS on the right side to learn about her books. Go to and type Marie Bradby to read some of the reviews of her books. THEN CHECK OUT the tub of Visiting Author books and read them to your class.

5) Encourage your kids to read the snippets of text on the walls while in line, walking down the hall, etc.

4) Try the “Writing Exercise” activity to spark your students’ creative juices. Pretty interesting idea. See the website for details!
After reading More Than Anything Else, have students write a “More Than Anything Else” story of their own.
After reading Once Upon a Farm have students craft poetry with a
 “Once Upon a _______ “ story of their own.

3) Foster a connection to family and self by listening to George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From poem (text available, too)
and then reading Marie Bradby’s picture book Momma, Where Are You From?  to spark student generated ideas about where they or a family member is from. Discuss their thoughts in a share square. Research about a family member to preserve history, and/or have students write their own _________, Where Are You From? 

2) Use her books and poetry in your literacy workshops as the shared reading and discussion topics! And/or use them as your fluency work for the week!

- Use her texts as models or mentors: read them to understand as a reader, study her writing as you “read like a writer” analyzing the purpose, ideas, organization, words, use of voice, conventions, and variety of crafts.

PLEASE consider inviting Jennifer and Sarah in as guest readers or to model/co-teach a lesson! We love this author and would LOVE to share her work with the students.

Award-Winning Guest Author Comes to Buckner!

Students K-3
Meeting a Mentor— Marie Bradby

A mentor- a wise and trusted guide or teacher; someone you admire and try to learn from so as to better yourself

As you know, Buckner Elementary is dedicated to enriching the lives of our students through exciting and meaningful educational experiences. Students no longer watch their teachers stand and deliver information; rather, they are an integral part of their own learning.

Through intentional, focused, and guided instruction our children are becoming more adept at using the 7 thinking strategies to discuss and comprehend texts they read. They have also learned (or are learning) to analyze and read mentor texts like a writer—looking for the strategies and techniques the authors used to craft their writing. Students are given multiple opportunities to use this knowledge to write their own texts whether they take the from of a narrative, poem, article, letter, All About Book, etc. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s real. It’s because of mentors.

Each day Buckner students read works from published mentor authors so as to learn from them. (Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be- We learn from those who do it well?) How amazing would it be then, to SEE and HEAR and TALK TO a well-renowned author of books we have loved and studied? How powerful would it be to listen to and learn from that mentor? This year, Buckner is proud to announce that we will welcome Kentucky native, Marie Bradby to our school on November 14th to share her experiences— which have led to her books and poems; her thoughtful and intentional writing process; and her perseverance in working with her writing until it’s published.

Ms. Bradby says, “I have tried to write stories about the most important questions that I wanted my son to think about. What is a real friend? What if you didn’t get a chance to learn to read? Where are you really from? .” And throughout the rest of the year— BES students will write about questions and topics important to them and others. The best part is that your child will have the voice and lessons of our mentor in his/her head and realize the power of his/her own stories and ideas.

You, too, are invited and encouraged to learn from one of the best. By listening to your child talk about Ms. Bradby’s visit you will learn about he significant connection between reading, writing, and the value of sharing your family stories with your child(ren) and writing about passions and the questions you ponder.

Though the seeds have been planted, in order to better prepare for this exciting visit, over the course of the next few weeks your child will continue to experience the pleasure of listening to his/her teacher read Marie Bradby’s books and poems. Much thinking will be done and many conversations will stem from these beautifully written and thought-provoking books. Students will log onto her website and learn more about her life and love of writing, as well as experiment with some of her writing strategies as they craft their own writing.

So, mark your calendars for the experience and honor of meeting the fabulous mentor- Marie Brady. She’s guaranteed to touch your child’s life and motivate the reader and writer within.

               Literacy Coach,
               Sarah Whitt

For more literacy information log onto the Buckner website and click The Literacy Connection.

Mareie Bradby’s website:

Look for the flyers to fill out so you can purchase an autographed copy of your child’s favorite Marie Bradby book.