Monday, December 5, 2016

How's it Going with Universal Idea at Buckner Elementary?

This new writing understanding that we are working hard to understand as teachers, and support students in doing successfully, is taking off here at Buckner Elementary. Currently, we have several grades where students are being intentionally guided toward transfer with this BIG (UNIVERSAL) IDEA so writing can unified. Already, in it's infantile stages, tying students' writing to a universal idea is leading to writing success.
What does it look like in instruction and in the work of kids, you wonder?

1st grade: In ELA unit 2, students in each class self-selected a topic to write about for a collaborative ABC book. In the past, the topic held the informative book together, but this year, Mrs. Morrison's students tied their writing together through the universal idea/abstract noun: FRIGHT. Here are some photos showcasing how they wrote with unity by always coming  back to the universal idea (fright) about the topic (Halloween).

Notice how the writer is learning more than just about the TOPIC of Halloween, they are really focusing on more than the topic. Readers are growing in their understanding about the topic based on the authors' thinking.

Scroll down more to find more examples of 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade writing with thesis statements making  claims about topics tied to Universal Ideas. (a.k.a. themes in literary texts)
You see, 5th graders are "Trying on Topics" by participating in "Warm Ups " where they respond to a prompt with reasons and a thesis that includes a claim +UI (and then apply a craft they've been noticing in model text to draft a paragraph).
3rd graders have been publishing short stories wrapped in themes about beloved family members. Both showcase the power of unity because the Universal Idea is the "thruline" that ties it all together!


This poster adds visual texts and meaning for kids in the intermediate grades to refer to when writing. Kristen Z. has a great list in LARGE font ready for her kids to lasso when they are ready to sew their ideas together with a Universal Idea. 

Please share how it's going with supporting your writers with this powerful practice of connecting ideas. If you are curious about how our 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades set up the instructional sequence for this writing practice, please ask them! They all had differing approaches to meet their learners' needs that ultimately reached the common outcome.