Integrating Language Arts in the Curriculum
Integrating Language Arts in the Curriculum ELE 602
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Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 College 1 ducation Language Arts Current Issues Journal A journal for sharing ideas about the teaching of language alts In this issuestudents inELE 602 Language Arts J8 CurrentIssues and Research Fall 2007 share their Click on me mle knowledge about teaching English Language Learners bEIOW P So direaly 0 teaching writing and other topics me Angela Dickerson Traci Lutz Sandy Tinsley Melissa Trabucco a Barks Amanda Fox Lacey Groves chasm Jackson Callie R Wexler Charlotte Goddard Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 It s a Bird It s a Plane No it s a Graphic Novel By Kelly Smith Locker Three years ago I began a search for books that would draw my middle school students into my library The search led me to graphic novels or booklength comics While many of us teachers and media specialists are convinced of the benefits of using graphic novels in a school setting we may nd that we don t know where to start when creating our own collection First while you are convinced of their educational bene ts you may have to convince other teachers media specialists administration or parents of the bene ts of graphic novels In fact with research you can prove that graphic novels are excellent educational tools for many reasons The best bene t ofgraphic novels is that they catch the attention of kids who are considered reluctant readers With less text support from pictures and a feeling of reading something outside of what is normal reluctant readers are more likely to pick up a graphic novel Brenner 2006 Reluctant readers may be drawn to comics because the graphic elements help them to visualize the story better create context and understand the plot Forthe most part kids who read comics will proceed into reading other more advanced literature Another reason that graphic novels are excellent educational tools is that many essential literacy skills are required to read graphic novels Per sentence graphic novels give the brain more ofa workout than any other type of media Lyga 2006 In The Power of Reading Dr Stephen Krashen pointed out that the average comic book has twice the vocabulary as the average children s book and three times the vocabulary of a conversation between an adult and a child Brenner 2006 Graphic novels also have a higher vocabulary than most television programs Kaye 2004 Students reading graphic novels must use higherlevel reading skills because they must follow the text and art all while understanding the sequence ofthe panels Lyga 2005 The readertakes in the print while their brain is also bombarded with the characters setting plot and action in visual form Lyga 2006 Many literacy skills are needed when reading a graphic novel including the ability to sequence events decode facial and body expressions discern the story s plot make inferences understand metaphors and similes and to decode the symbolic meanings of certain images and postures Lyga 2006 St Lifer 2002 Helping to improve language literacy development in second language learners is another reason graphic novels are great educational tools The contextual clues provided by the illustrations in graphic novels can help SSL students to better understand the text Graphic novels can play a crucial role in an SSL s vocabulary development by introducing them to nonstandard words and phrases such as slang idioms onomatopoeia and abbreviations not found in usual textbooks Lyga 2005 ESL students can also learn about the culture of the language they are learning through graphic novels After you have convinced others ofthe bene ts ofgraphic novels it is now time to choose your collection This has become more dif cult due to the wide range of graphic novels now available for education settings Though many graphic novels are fantasy range and variety of graphic novel subject matter includes non ction classic literature narratives and biographies A great example of this is Art Spiegleman s Maus A Survivor s Tale a biographical story of Spiegleman s parents in World War II during the Holocaust The selection of graphic novels for your classroom or school library is very important First it is important to be sure that the titles you chose are developmentally Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 appropriate for your audience For example you would not give Maus to a rst grade student Due to their violence I would suggest not purchasing war or crime graphic novels for elementary students You may also want to look at your school s curriculum before purchasing graphic novels Matching your graphic novel choices to your school s curriculum will give you or your teachers a different way to introduce new material Some publishing companies have published biography and historical event graphic novels that are very good at introducing new people and events There are other criteria to look at when choosing graphic novels Are your students going to be interested in the novel you are considering This can sometimes be hard to judge because ofthe varying tastes of students however if you look at a graphic novel and you can picture a specific student of yours being interested in it then it is probably a worthwhile choice Other criteria to look for when choosing graphic novels would be humor suspense tragedy depending on grade level and use of imagination A major aspect that you need to evaluate before choosing would be the artwork It is important to look through the graphic novels to be sure that the artwork is appropriate The artwork is an area of concern for some parents and teachers so it is imperative that the artwork is evaluated before the graphic novel is chosen Lyga 2006 A list ofgraphic novels and their appropriate grade levels are listed at the end ofthis article to help you begin making your choices While the history of the graphic novel in the educational field has been long and bumpy many are beginning to see the great benefits that providing students with graphic novels can have The conservative organization Parents Television Council even called graphic novels the best thing to happen for kids who resist the written word Lyga 2005 Graphic novels give the brain more of a workout than any other form of literature and their use of graphic novels is an effective way to foster students love of reading In fact Nobel Peace prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu once said One ofthe things I am very grateful to my father for is that contrary to conventional educational principles he allowed me to read comics I think that is howl developed a love for English and for reading Hill 2004 Graphic Novels for Elementary School Grades K6 0 Gaiman Neil 2004 The day swapped my dad for two gold sh Harper Collins Children s Books Gownley Jimmy 2005 Amelia rules Volume 2 Whatmakes you happy ibooks incorporated Huey Debbie2005 Bumperboy loses his marbles AdHouse Books Kochalka James 2002 Pinky and Stinky Top Shelf Productions Marsten Moulton 2004 Wonder Woman s book of myths DK Publishing Runton Andy 2004 Owy Volume 1 the way home amp the bittersweetsummer Top Shelp Productions Graphic Novels for Middle and High School Grades 712 0 Bendis BrianMichael 2001 Ultimate spiderman Power and responsibility Marvel Books Brennan Michael 2000 Electric girl Mighty Gremlin o Lemke Donald 2006 The Apollo13 mission Capstone Press Smith Jeff 2005 Out from Boneville Scholastic Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Spigelman Art 1986 Maus A survivors tale My father bleeds history Random House Takahashi Rumiko 1995 RanmaVo 1 Viz Communications Inc Talbot Bryan 1995 The tale of one bad rat Dark Horse Comincs Inc V nick Judd 2002 EXies Marvel Books References Brenner Robin MarchApril 2006 Graphic novels 101 FAQ The Horn Book Magazine LXXXII Retrieved June 26 2006 from mpjwwwhbookcompublicationsmaqazinearticlesmar06 brennerasp Hill PhD Robyn A 2004 The Secret origin of good readers A resource book Retrieved July 8 2006 from httpnight ghtcomsecretoriginSOGR2004pdf Kaye Emma 2005 Seeressa the sage Graphic Novels Retrieved July 8 2006 from httpwwwqraphicnovelsbrodartcomask htm Krashen Stephen February 2005 The quotdeclinequot of reading in American poverty and access to books and the use of comics in encouraging reading Teachers College Record Retrieved July 8 2006 from httpwwwsdkrashencomarticlesdecline of readinqallhtml Lyga Allyson A W 2006Graphic novels for really young readers School Library Journal 52 5261 Lyga Barry 2005 Comics a useful tool for English as a second language ESL Graphic Novels foryour School Retrieved July 8 2006 from httpbookshelfdiamondcomicscomPDFSSchoolsidepdf Lyga Barry 2005 How comics can reach reluctant readers Graphic Novels foryour School Retrieved July 8 2006 from httpbookshelfdiamondcomicscomPDFSSchoolsidepdf St Lifer Evan 2002 August 1 Graphic novels seriously SLJcom Retrieved July 8 2006 from httpwwwschoollibram39ournalcomarticleCA236062htmldisplaysearchResultsampstt001 amptextqraphic2Bnovels2Bseriouslv Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Writing Notebooks A Key to Unlocking the Student s Mind Amy Catlett After using writing joumals last year with very little success I was desperately looking for a way to excite my students about writing Our language arts classes are split so we teach writing as a subject all by itself When the students realize that they are going to spend 55 minutes a day doing writing and grammar they cringe My ultimate goal has been to learn something to keep the student s engaged and excited at all times about writing At the beginning of the year each student was issued a journal The rst assignment was to create a graphic organizer called a bubble map about their favorite spot After this they had to write a paragraph using the adjectives on their graphic organizer to describe the place BORING right Well I left the journals in the basket until I read about creating writing notebooks and I think I struck gold Now we use our journals for whatever we want I started by reading them a two minute mystery and they had to write down all the clues they heard After this they got in groups and tried to solve the crime Many sleuths were born on this day Next we wrote our own two minute mystery and tried to get our classmates to solve the crime The class chose the best one and we compiled a book of our own classroom mysteries The students are allowed to get their journal any time and jot down what their day is about good or bad with complete con dence that it will not have to be shared with the class Each student understands that I do from time to time read the journals and comment on what they are writing about or I may even make suggestion about books they may want to try reading They are encouraged to use it to record the latest book they are reading and what the book is about The students enjoy not being tied down to having to complete the joumalnotebook by a certain day and they write in it at least two to three times a week voluntarily I check the joumalsnotebooks about once every two weeks just so the students know that I am interested in their writings Students who really enjoy writings are able to share poetry drawings stories and events of their day When a story is particularly good I ask the student can I publish on our bulletin board What an honor this is for most They love to see their work on display We have two bulletin board areas one in the classroom and one in the hallway We use these areas to display our class work but they know it doesn t have to be perfect just neat and well organized The student knows they have to be putting their best effort forward and the work can be displayed Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Another reason to use the notebook is to allow students to write about things that are not in the curriculum or are not in your current unit For example I am teaching a nonfiction unit now and most of the students dislike having to deal with only factual information They know that we have to stick with the curriculum map and I have to stay on task according to the county and state standards but they know they can go to the journal and write or draw whatever they are feeling For your students that don t really like to write encourage them to draw When my students spend pages and pages on drawing I will leave them a note in their notebook to encourage them to add captions or a story line to their drawings I may say Why is this person so sad Or what are you saying to me in this scene Or does this re ect what your day has been like Sometimes I will make a note to myself to be sure and go back and ask or talk to the student about their writings The notebook has opened up a new dialogue for me with my students when I write them notes they can see that I care about what they are saying and I am not there just to teach What a difference this has made in my teaching As a first year teacher last year I was very standoffrshi almost afraid to get to close to the students because I didn t want them to think they that I was going to be a push over Now I have a much better relationship with the students and they know I can be tough but I do love them I make sure that they understand what I do is by choice and I hope that they will make a good career choice also The other writing teachers in my school have started the notebooldj oumal and are also enjoying the work they are getting from the students Even though the 7Lh and 8Lh grade teachers are not giving any credit for the notebook yet the response has been very positive We randomly ask students why they enjoyed writing in the journals and they said because there was no pressure to get it right They could write when they wanted and what they wanted They did not feel the need to be perfect even though they did correct their errors when they noticed them My students tell me that they enjoy reading my comments and knowing that they have another outlet to share their feelings without criticism If this seems overwhelming start small by encouraging your students to keep a section in their notebook for free writing or drawing Explain that they are not graded on content but on effort if you are taking a grade Encourage them to do what comes most natural to them drawing poetry storytelling or just jotting down things they want to remember I told my students that I often hear something humorous or meaningful that I want to remember and I write it in my own journal The example I use is there goes those lounge lizards at work This is a quote from MASH and every time I hear it or say it I burst our laughing Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Working with an ELL in Sixth grade Ashley Underhill Teaching sixth graders or students in general can often be trying at times Middle school teachers must teach to a wide variety of students students who are pubescent moody and often have socioeconomic factors home issues that don t leave when they walk into class day after day However this year I have experienced yet another student issue that was completely foreign to me an English Language Learner How do you teach day after day to someone who doesn t really understand a word that you are saying This was the biggest issue that I have had to pursue this year However I must say that English Only Teachers in Mixed Language Classrooms by Joanne Yatvin has been my bible for the classroom I have applied many ideas from her book to help assist my ELL student we ll call him Ron I have incorporated many of Yatvin s guidelines for teaching ELL s First I wanted to establish a solid initial relationship with Ron so in the very beginning days of us knowing each other I pulled him aside to simply talk We talked about his school in Mexico his favorite foods friends and etc I could tell that he really enjoyed our conversations which also gave me relief that he could understand verbally somewhat anyhow For the rst week in class I simply asked Ron to observe our classroom routine He was polite and seemed interested in activities that we did in class During this week I worked on labeling various areas of my room for Ron a strategy promoted by Yatvin I also came in contact with our local ELL coordinator to explain my situation He promised to stop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays to check on Ron s work and speak with him It wasn t long before I realized that simply checking on Ron s work was not going to do the trick Ron simply didn t understand much if any of what I was teaching in class even with my modified verbal assessments another strategy promoted by Yatvin and help from the ELL instructor However I must make mention of the one lesson thus far that Ron has excelled in without any modification well not on my part anyway Our class had been studying immigrationemigration and as a summative assessment activity I established immigration interviews where students were selected to play the part as an immigrant interviewee or as the interviewer Another Spanish student who is extremely intelligent and speaks excellent English volunteered himself and Ron to be in a group Ron was to be the interviewertranslator which they came up with themselves and the other student the immigrant The immigrant pretended as if he Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 only knew Spanish and Ron translated for him I was extremely impressed I have great plans for creating more lessons that appeal to Ron especially since we will soon be studying Mexico The latest news concerning Ron is that his other teachers and I have decided that major interventions beyond what we can provide ourselves are going to have to be implemented We now have an expert who will be assisting all of Ron s teachers within the classroom We are all very excited about this and we see a bright future ahead for Ron Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Ideas for Working with ELLs in Middle School Mandy Dock There were so many ideas I got from this class and the readings I don t know where to start Being that I teach special education in the middle school I found so many of the ELL tips useful even though I don t currently have any in my classes Some things I really want to implement are Having a Welcome Kit ready for any new students that moves in during the year Using the spelling techniques and minilessons to teach spelling to my struggling spellers I love the practice spelling sessionsithey are so scared to even try sometimes I want them to feel comfortable trying even if it is not correct With my five year old if he asks to spell a word I tell him to give me the sounds If he can give me the correct sound even if the letter or letters are not correct I am thrilled At least he can hear the sounds we can work on exactly which one it should be at a later date I also really like the idea of the monthly writer s workshop and open a gallery that will stay open for the other students to view for the month what a great learning experience and something for the little ones to aspire for The last thing I liked was the three ring binders of different classes of themed writings I would love to have something to look at and see what was going on in the past years and what great examples for the kids to look at Since I don t have my own classroom some of these great ideas will be hard to implement But I certainly plan on sharing these great ideas and pressing the teachers to jump on board and see what we can get accomplished However the spelling tips will be implemented tomorrow Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Teaching Spelling It No Longer Has to be Dreaded By Johnah Brown Teaching spelling skills to young learners can be very challenging for a teacher Getting children to grasp the thought of stretching out and hearing all of the sounds in a word can be tough Most children only jot down the few sounds that stand out to them mainly being the first and last sound Recently I have learned a few spelling activities to implement into my kindergarten classroom The activities Shelley Harwayne includes in her book Writing through Childhood teach spelling through modeling as well as independent practice As educators we must remember that in spelling practice makes perfect When working with young writers a teacher should encourage students to take risks in their spelling At first many new writers will just jot down some letters they see around the room In the beginning it is important to remember that the attempt is what is important not the correctness As a group of students grow and actually begin writing letters for the sounds they hear the teacher should remind the students of the resource material in their classroom and demonstrate how to use them The teacher should point out alphabet charts dictionaries etc The teacher should also model on a daily basis how to verbally stretch words to hear each sound One activity that I currently do in my classroom is writing a daily message with the help of my students In the daily message I will have the students help me think of a sentence to write After that I will have students help me write the sentence At first I sound out the words for my students so that they can see how to stretch the sounds Once the children begin to grow in their spelling skills I let them attempt to sound out the word and spell it independently Other activities that I have implemented in my room for teaching spelling include Inventors and Scribes oneonone conferences and basic spelling practice Inventors and Scribes is a game that allows the children to create their own spelling of a word The teacher presents the students with an object or a word and then allows the children to work in groups to think of a spelling for the word Once the children have attempted at the spelling the teacher collects the words and places them on the board next to the proper spelling Then as a class the students discuss what is different from their spelling and the correct spelling This activity allows the children to explore grownup spelling and use what they learn to help their spelling ability My children really enjoy this activity It allows them to explore the method of spelling and learn through teacher as well as their peers As result to this activity many of my students have learned how to listen for the hidden sounds in a Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 word In other words my students learned how to stretch the sounds to make sure that they are all heard The oneonone conferences provide wonderful opportunities to guide students through complications and frustrations It also provides and opportunity for teachers to encourage shy writers Many young writers have to be prodded before they will attempt anything The conferences also allow time for praise when due When proper spelling is found the teacher should share it with the rest of the classroom Before I rarely did oneonone conferencing with my kindergarten writers but now see the benefits of it These conferences give me the opportunity to provide for each student s individual needs In my classroom I have a wide span of writing abilities which makes it hard to teach a curriculum that is efficient for each and every child I have also discovered that conferencing challenges my students to do their best because they love getting to share their work with me It has encouraged them to create a work that they can be proud of The other spelling activities that I have implemented into my classroom include the use of pictures book covers magazines and even the children in the room I give the children something to look at and then challenge them to spell the word that goes with it My children personally enjoy the book cover activity the best I show them a book cover with title hidden and ask them to create a title I normally use these activities during literacy centers These spelling drills have really strengthened the spelling ability of my class as a whole They are more willing to take risks and are learning how to stretch out a word to hear all of the sounds Through each of these instructional tasks the students are learning spelling rules as well as putting to use the rules they already know Through reading the text produced by Shelley Harwayne I have learned that teaching spelling does not have to be a challenging process Rather I have learned that working on spelling skills with young learners can be quite fun Her text taught me how to engage my students in the instruction rather than just babbling off a bunch of rules Altering the way that I teach spelling has increased the writing abilities of the majority of my students They have gone from timid and weak writers to bold and strong writers willing to try anything Not only have their skills improved but their effort and desire to write has bloomed as well Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Are You Ready for an ELL student Here s Help By Kim Davenport Having a student who is learning how to speak English can be a scary and nerve wracking experience It is important to nd out a little bit about the student s interests and reading level in his or her native language This will help in deciding what types of services to put in place for their English language learning It is important to ll your classroom with a wide variety and educational level of books videos music and magazines for the enjoyment and exploration of the students learning a new language Items for a mixed language classroom 1 easy trade books 2 highquality picture books 3 books with humor adventure and folktales 4 illustrated informational books 5 comic books 6 graphic novels 7 extensive picture le 8 common objects such as furniture dishes dressup and play clothes small plastic animals puppets etc 9 videos lmstrips books on tape 10 movies and popular songs 11 magazines and newspapers Having some of these items in your classroom can encourage students to learn language for authentic purposes and their own enjoyment without being selfconscious or embarrassed Another idea to help your students become acquainted with the language and your classroom is to prepare a welcome kit In this kit you might include some of the items from the list above Depending on the age of the student you could include labels for common objects and let the student go around putting the labels where they should go This will really come in handy when you have an ELL student show up one day with no warning If you have one of these already prepared you life will be much easier when faced with this nerve wracking experience Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Third Grade Memories By Crystal Harris After reading the rst ve chapters in the book Writing Through Childhood I decided I wanted to write this year to preserve memories I wanted students to pick up their writers notebook in twenty years and hear their third grade selves I started by giving each third grader a composition notebook I put out the crafts box and glue I told them that we were going to start something new We were going to start a journal boys seem to hate the word diary about ourselves The journal was to be all about themselves and they could use anything in the crafts box to decorate their journal We spent the few days decorating and allowing them to dry The st week after decorating we opened our journals and wrote a letter to our grownup selves I let them know ahead of time that I was not going to be looking at the grammar or judging their capitalization I was looking for expression and details I asked them to write something they wanted to read about in tentwenty years The next assignment was captioned photo albums I had students to bring in snapshot pictures of things that were important to them right now Those who didn t have pictures drew them I gave them choices such as family friends hobbies food sports movies music etc After they brought or drew the pictures I had them glue them into the next pages of the book and write captions for each picture This took us about two days The students put one to two pictures per page I brought a scrapbook from home for an example and we looked at captions that were written in our textbooks After nishing our captions we moved on to an annotated timeline of their lives We spent a day reviewing different timelines We did a web about what kinds of events could be on a timeline birthdays important events moving days celebrations etc We actually did one together on the board using my life They did theirs on long yellow construction paper that we folded and glued into their books They really thought it was cool that the paper folded out when the pulled on it like a popup book After nishing the timelines we did several writing pieces about Thanksgiving We only started three weeks ago so this is a work in progress Right now we are writing Family Recipes The students are bringing in their favorite family recipes to write in the journal and we are going to write captions about them I plan on doing several Christmas writings before and after Christmas I Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 want to do an activity about the music they love All of these ideas came from the book Writing Through Childhood and several of ideas can be found on page 256 The places you can go with this book are endless I do now that it will be cherished someday by both the students and the parents Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Poetry in the Classroom By Roslyn Donley Poetry is the essence of language It is important in the lives of children There are many bene ts that can be gained by exposing students to poetry reading and writing activities Poetry is an excellent venue to teach and reinforce grammar and vocabulary skills I think that it provides a focus for reading and writing and helps students learn how to be concise In my classroom we recite poetry everyday The poems chosen are based on weekly themes There is one poem that is my favorite and it is recited during our morning pledge activities I usually introduce it during the second week of school It is entitled My Country The words are I know a lot about my country Please forgive me if I brag But I know that it has fifty states and a very special ag I know that it has cities and towns and farm lands too It is home to many people It is home to me and you I know a lot about my country and I want to say out loud My country is the USA This fact makes me quite proud I consider our poetry readings and discussions invaluable as a beginning to introducing students to appreciating poetry By providing students with frequent opportunities to hear and see poetry about a variety of subjects they will begin to listen to the sounds around them whether it is in the lyrics of music or in the words of others Illustrating poems is quite a delight to my students They enjoy drawing the characters in the poems as well as illustrating the setting Another poem that we have recited and illustrated is entitled The Penny The words are See the shiny penny brown as it can be Showing Abe Lincoln for all of us to see He had a bushy beard and a tall black hat A penny s worth one cent How about that We recite this poem during calendar activities and discuss the physical characteristics of the penny Abraham Lincoln and how much a penny is worth We also count the sounds syllables and parts in the word penny It is important that students keep a journal about the connections they make between what they read and what they write My students keep a writing journal They can write words numbers Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 sentences nouns verbs names places etc This week I introduced verbs We learned that we use verbs or action words to tell about things we do We made a list of verbs or action words that tell about things we can do Then we used some of the action words to write a sentence Two of the words were dance and play The students were asked to use these words in a complete sentence The sentences were I dance to music 7 I play with cars We discussed that the rst word in a sentence should begin with an uppercase letter and that sentences end with punctuation marks The students wrote and dictated their own sentences using verbs and acted out their sentences for the class which was a real treat This activity helped to enhance independent writing skills I believe that poetry and writing activities offers students opportunities to engage with ideas deepens language skills stretch writing abilities and share their own thoughts and emotions It offers valuable opportunities for language learning which helps students develop the language skills they need to pursue life s goals and participate fully in society Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Dear Miss Lane by Tina Lane Do you have a pen pal If you don t you are missing an awesome experience I currently have 19 pen pals Yes that s right 19 pen pals We have written about everything from pets and favorite books to repairmen xing the septic tank No kidding It all started a few weeks ago I was reading Writing Through Childhood and the author suggested an interesting way to teach young children to write and spell the way kids spell hard words She suggested giving students high interest words to spell such as vanilla chocolate and strawberry I decided to give each group a secret word to spell After groups stretched the words and sounds and decided how to spell their word I wrote their word in their spelling on the board I asked the other groups to stretch those words and read them Their spelling was quite goodichocklit vnilu and strowbarey We discussed the fact that we were able to read those words even though they were not spelled the same way grown ups spell them The main objective of this activity was to help students understand that it is fine to write a word the way it sounds As I continued to read Writing Through Childhood I read a very small section entitled Keeping Dialogue Journals When the author was the Principal of Manhattan New School she kept dialogue journals with 34 students at a time In the dialogue journal she and the students exchanged letters When I rst read this I was skeptical Who has time for that A few days later I decided to give it a try I asked my students to write a letter to me in their journals Up to this point we had only used our journals for our morning message which I now realize is quite boring Itold them they were free to write about anything I told them I would write back to them and they were excited to hear this That day Itook the journals home to read and Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 respond As I lled my tote bag with the stack of 19 spiral notebooks I wondered why I would have done something so crazy and time consuming That night I learned that one of my students loves Aapll apples and her cat got in a dt wif a dog ght with a dog I learned that one student was planning to go to his Nanny and Pa s house and he liked to wock his dog One student told me that Today the gis will come to my hoows to x the soorig tac Luckily he was excited about it so he brought his journal to me and read it to me Apparently there were guys were coming to his house to x the septic ta Another student wrote Dear Miss Lane Can you come over my hows on thacsckeven I f you can not come too col her phone number but ifyou can come col that saam number Love Leah Yes I did call the number she gave me to thank her for the invitation I was hooked I knew right away that I had 19 pen pals that would be willing to write to me every chance they were given The next day the same student who invited me to Thanksgiving Dinner wrote Dear Miss Lane What is your favorite book M y favorite book is The Princess and the Pea Her journal entry complete with illustration is below Volume I Number I Fall 2007 mniiatllA3Esblllllfirf r r A few days later I asked my students what they would do if they were the teacher for a day I don t always give them a speci c topic but they were excited with this one One student came to me and said I need to know how to spell boys so I am going over to the boys bathroom to read it on the door I praised her and told the whole class what a wonderful idea it was to nd those words and spell them correctly My curiosity was de nitely raised when she wanted to spell the word boys Herjournal entry is below Volume I Number I Fall 2007 I was immediately impressed and confused with her response Obviously if she were the teacher for a day she would have the boys dress up like a princess and crayola and dress and wig I love it but I was totally confused with crayola Why would she dress them in a crayola I read it several times Nothing I had to set it aside I came back to it and read through it again and this time I paid close attention to her detailed illustration She would dress them in a crayolai crayon ia CROWN I believe she wanted to spell crown correctly and decided to look on her crayon and read crayola WOW As I said earlier if you do not have a pen pal or 19 pen pals you are missing an awesome experience Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Ants in the Pants 10 Interesting Words and Phrases and Their Origins By Angela Dickerson For my nal paper I read the book titled I Didn39t Know That From quotAnts in the Pantsquot to quotWet Behind the Earsquot the Unusual Origins of the Things We Say by Karlen Evins Karlen Evins is a Nashville TN resident where she has spent twenty years devoted to journalism She is the cohost and producer of the national radio talk show Beyond Reason Ms Evins has long been a collector of old books and uses interesting word trivia as conversation starters Most of the people she has spoken with have been impressed by her knowledge and constantly remark quotI didn t know thatquot hence the name of her book This book lists several commonly used words and phrases and tells the origins and story behind each I chose this book because I myself have often wondered where some of our words and sayings originate Here are ten of my favorite words or phrases from Ms Evins book These explanations made me say quotI didn39t know that quot l Ants in His Pants This was actually an old English remedy for people who slept more that their share or were lethargic In other words lazy Ants would actually by placed in the quotpatien 39squot pants to increase circulation thereby remedying the problem laziness Wow If we used this prescription today I39m afraid ants would be extinct N Cold Shoulder This saying also originated in old English and referred to a cold shoulder of meat being given to passersby in rural areas This cold meat was a sign to the hungry traveler to move on and not expect any more hospitality E Getting One s Goat This saying originates in the early days of horse racing when goats were put into the horses stalls to keep them clam before the big race To upset a competitor39s horse opponents would steal the goat from his rival s horse39s stall before the race 4 Hick This word originates in early American schoolrooms where corporal punishment was a staple of discipline Many rural area parents held tight to the belief quotspare the rod spoil the childquot and allowed the teachers to use hickory switches to whip the students for wrongdoing More progressive thinkers challenged the value of this type of discipline and came to call communities who supported corporal punishment quothickory townsquot Over the years it became the shortened version we know today hick V39 Knock on Wood I have used this phrase several times in my life and have always wondered why knocking on wood would bring someone good luck This phrase originates in pagan 0 gt1 9 0 Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 times when people traveling through forests would knock on the trees to call upon the protective spirits within to help them travel safely through the wood I have never knocked on wood and asked for luck in traveling but I have knocked on wood and asked for luck in getting a good grade on certain college class assignments Letting the Cat Out of the Bag This phrase originates from the Middle Ages when Muslims invaded Europe and pork was declared unclean Pigs quickly became a hot black market item being sold in bags Every now and then a dishonest salesman would substitute a cat for an expensive pig leaving the customer in for a big surprise when they got home and opened the bag Sabotage This word has French origins dating back to WWII when weaving looms were introduced The workmen protesting losing their weaving jobs to machines jammed their sabots wooden shoes into the looms Seventh Heaven This phrase has its origins in the religion of Islam Muslims believe there are seven levels of heaven the seventh level being formed of quotdivine light beyond the power of the tongue to describequot according to Muhammad Skeleton in the Closet In the Dark Ages it was not acceptable for doctors to study human anatomy using cadavers due to societal fears of disturbing the dead person s ghost So cadavers became a hot commodity on the black market causing people to rob fresh graves to sell the bodies to eager doctors Many doctors were suspected of hiding dead bodies in closets giving us today s meaning of quotprivate or hidden secretsquot Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve This phrase originates with knights who wore their ladies scarves as armbands showing other knights and soldiers that he might physically be in battle but his heart was with his love How romantic This book was very interesting and easy to read It was humorous as well In a classroom I can see it would have a lot of uses For second graders one use might be in the form of journal writing where you compare and contrast the student39s derived meanings of certain words or phrases and the actual meanings of the words or phrases I can see lots of surprised faces and hear lots of quotI didn39t know thatquot Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Writing about Reading Organizing Thought By Traci Lutz When students are young making connections is sometimes difficult for them to do Teachers must help the students with scaffolding so that the students can establish these connections in their young minds It is important that students begin to think about their learning at an early age Although the students that I work with daily are first graders these ideas can be easily adapted for any grade level Ithink that it is important to read and write across many different content areas One of the ideas that I used in my own classroom was to do a character comparison contrast For part of our Thanksgiving unit we read the books Sarah Morton 3 Day and Samuel Eaton 3 Day The students were very interested in how different the lives of these Pilgrim children were from their own lives I wrote our weekly open response question to compare and contrast one of these characters with the student s own life We generated ideas as a class and compiled them into a Venn Diagram Our class also created another Venn diagram as we are worked on our Christmas in other countries unit We learned about the country the Netherlands We talked about what life is like there and how their Christmas is different from ours I helped them to organize their ideas and then we completed a Venn diagram to compare Christmas in the Netherlands and Christmas in the USA Graphic organizers are also great to use in science instruction During October my class studied the life cycle of pumpkins I created an open response question to use with this unit We used a graphic organizer to draw the life cycle and write about each step of the pumpkin life cycle I modified a simple fourblock organizer to do this The students drew a picture of each part of the pumpkin life cycle and then wrote about each step We have also experimented with other graphic organizers when we are working on our reading One of the organizers that we use is an idea tree These are especially useful when Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 working with an expository text We work on these as a class to help us review for our story tests Right now I am modeling these for the students as we generate the ideas together Soon I plan to have the students write their own idea tree These are great to use to help ascertain comprehension of a story before the assessment is given A story map is another graphic organizer that can be used Narrative texts lend themselves especially well to this type of graphic organizer A story map requires the students to give the characters names the setting of the story story sequence and conclusion This is another way that the teacher can assess students comprehension of the text Another great use for graphic organizers is that after some teacher modeling they can be used for independent work while the teacher is working with another group of students The students are still working on reading activities they are writing and the teacher can assess their comprehension of the story in one easy organizer I don t believe that it is ever too early to teach students to think Graphic organizers can be used for many different aspects of learning There are graphic organizers for predicting character comparison sequencing main ideas vocabulary math social studies science and reading response just to name a few Some of the graphic organizers that I use in my classroom come from the Scholastic books First Graphic Organizers Reading and The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Genre Studies in Writing Workshop Andrea Wheatley Writing has always been a challenge for me even when I was in school so when I became a fourth grade teacher I was scared out of my mind Still being a fairly new teacher this is my fourth year I feel that I am learning new things each and every day Each year that I have taught fourth grade I have taught writing differently Most of time spent trying to teach writing has been trial and errorimostly on the error part I just struggled with how to get kids to make a connection with writing and what they read every single day So this summer I made it my goal to find new and interesting ways to help kids become better writers and not just complete a portfolio I feel that one of the best ways to learn about something is to go looking for other people that have been successful and let them show you That is when I discovered the website of a third grade teacher in MichiganiBeth Newingham I spent countless hours looking at her site and gathering ideas I could use in my own classroom Then I came across her genre posters she created for reading workshop see end of article for list of websites I decided to print them out laminate them and hang them in my classroom for all students to see and refer to One of the very first things I did with my students was give them a master list of all the genres and definition They were divided into fiction and nonfiction and had various sub categories I explained to my students that by the end of the study they would know all of those and be able to give speci c examples You should have seen their faces The next thing I gave my students was a reading log This is where they would track the books they read but also start tracking the different genres I wanted them to do this so they could get practice in identifying a genre Over the next two weeks I taught a new genre each day First we started with just the difference between fiction and non ction We would define the terms on our own list specific characteristics and then come up with our own examples Each day we would do the same thing with the genre of the day Mrs Newingham had some examples of that particular genre on her posters but with the help of my school librarians I was able to get more books and have the students use them hands on during our discussions After all the talk about the genres I then had my students write an example of that genre This was the part they lovediespecially when we studied mysteries and poetry At the end of writing workshop time I would allow the students time to share what they wrote with their classmates As a culminating activity I allowed the students to choose their own Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 genre and write an example Then the students got to read each others and try to guess which genre it was This genre study was one of mine and my students favorite activities this year We all learned a great deal about how books and writing are tied together and how everything can fit into some category I found that by hanging the posters in the room and constantly referring back to them my students remember what they learned and want to talk about it They are using the genres to help them write and also to help them pick books they like to read from the library I have also learned that reading and writing are connected in so many ways This is just one way to make it easier and make it on a kidfriendly level If you want to learn more about writing and reading workshops visit Mrs Newingham s 39 at httn39 hill troV k1 mi 11s staff 39 39 web3 For specific information on the genre posters visit httn39 hill trnv k 7 mi 11s staff 39 39 VWb3Ge r lres htm Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 A M ust Read By Jamie Morris If you struggle with teaching writing or are just looking for new ideas you absolutely must read Writing through Childhood Rethinking Process and Product by Shelley Harwayne It is full of creative ideas for children of all ages The following are several different examples that Itried with my students and found to be successful Teachers often encourage students to write on a given topic However from this book I learned that children can create very unique topics on their own After instructing my students to choose anything from their personal experiences to write about I discovered that very simple things like going to the dentist and riding the school bus are apparently very major experiences to a child The students used lots of emotion and description on the topics that they chose on their own because these daily happenings are of interest to them One of my students wrote a wonderful personal narrative about a phone call his mother made to the school He had lied to his mom about having a spelling test because he wanted to ride 4wheelers instead of study This student knew that his mother would not allow him to go outside if he did not know his words She found it very odd that he didn t have a typical Friday spelling test so she called to make sure The student wrote about the feeling he got when the phone rang and how he just knew that it was his mom before I even said a word Prior to reading this book I would have never encouraged my class to write about a simple even like this because I would not expect that there would be enough details to write a good piece However I was wrong because this was one of the best personal narratives written by one of my students It was great because he was able to be very descriptive and expressive Although this event was minor to me it was huge in his eyes From this reading I also gained useful information to be used during conferencing I spend a huge chunk of our writing time conferencing with individual students My biggest obstacle is getting the other students to work independently The other students are constantly interrupting To prevent interruptions and discipline issues teachers should teach mini lessons on the expectations during a writing class The author suggests that during the first few weeks of school teachers teach how to use materials well how to use soft voices and be respectful how to think of topics how to spell hard words what to do when you finish a piece and how to share work with a friend By addressing these issues at the beginning of the school year the students know what is expected of them Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Another idea that I chose to use with my class was the use of newspapers I was amazed to discover that so many of my students were unfamiliar with newspapers I brought in newspapers for each student and they cut out all the letters that they could nd We speci cally chose letters because that is what we were focusing on at the time The students enjoyed nding letters in print and it gave them more of a purpose for letter writing They were able to make a real life connection to why we write letters Possibly the most major thing I learned from this book was the importance of publishing student work Most of the time students are asked to write for different reasons but they hardly ever get to share their work outside of the classroom Students should be able to get some recognition for their hard work The author provided some very creative ways to display the students pieces The librarian could set aside a particular section of the library for student created writing My favorite was displaying student pieces in local restaurants or coffee shops School web pages and newsletters are a great way to share students work with the community Another wonderful idea was the Principal s Gallery Students look up to the principal and seek approval from himher By placing a bulletin board outside of hisher of ce strictly for displaying student writing the students would be greatly motivated to do their best In conclusion I highly recommend this text for all teachers Although we all come up with great ideas on our own it is always wonderful to learn more ways to have fun with writing When creative ideas like Shelley Harwayne s are available we should de nitely take advantage of the opportunity to improve our teaching skills References Harwayne Shelley Writing through Childhood Rethinking Process and Product New Hampshire Heinemann 2001 Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Using ELL Techniques with a Student with Autism By Sabrina Murrah Although I do not have English Language Learners ELL in my classroom at this time I did take one of the techniques that I learned from Joanne Yatvin s English Only Teachers in M ixedLlanguage Classrooms A Survival Guide and tried it out This is my first year teaching kindergarten and my first year teaching lower functioning students I have a student in my classroom that was just recently diagnosed with Autism Before school started I received records on her that said she does not talk except when she does not get her way and then it was not very pleasant She has a history of throwing herself down in the oor and kicking and screaming when she was asked to do things I was not at all sure how I was going to handle this situation After reading the chapter in our book on how to prepare for an ELL student the thought crossed my mind that I would do some of the same things for this student She had such a severe language def1cit that it was as if I were teaching an ELL student The book suggested that the room be covered in visuals Everything should be labeled with a picture and the word written in English So I went to work printing out the numerous pictures to label everything in my room Every door said door chair said chair and they were all accompanied by a visual picture I was not at all sure if this was going to work but nothing else had worked up to this point I also made visuals for things I wanted her to do like sit down in her chair line up and even to be quiet I had visuals that said yes no and even you are doing a great job These visual were placed on a ring so that I could ware them around my neck for easy access I made a picture schedule so that she would know what she was expected to do next Each different activity had it own picture that had Velcro attached to the back The schedule was displayed on a foam board that also had Velcro so that they could be used over and over To prepare her for transitions she was told several times ahead of time what was coming next When she first came in all I had to go on was the records that were sent from her old school They were not very positive and said that she would not comply with any direct instruction She would not sit when told or line up nothing I had decided that the reason she would not do anything is that she did not understand Although she was five and a half years old she did not understand what was being asked of her My aids and I spent many hours modeling what we wanted her to do If we wanted her to line up we would first say the request then show her a visual and then finally we would go to the door and line up It only took about three days for her to understand what line up Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 meant After that point all we had to do is show her the visual and she did it without hesitations At this point we do not even have to use the visuals because those words are now in her vocabulary Another thing we are working on with her is potty training In my classroom restroom we have a step by step chart on what is expected when she go to the restroom We are not completely successful at this point but she is no longer ghting us when we take her to the bathroom This has been a great experience learning what to do when we get ELL students in our classrooms Although I have never had one in my room I did utilize the information on one of my lower students I can not imagine going somewhere where I did not understand a word anyone was saying let alone being expected work How horrible it must be for a child not to understand what someone is telling them and being foreseen a trouble or noncompliant I am so glad that I read that chapter and had a heads up so that I can help this child become more successful Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Dear Diaty By Evelyn Slaton Barney Bear seeks adventure This funloving easy to care for bear would love to come for the weekend to your house soon He travels with his journal so that he can write about all the fun he has had with your child Then he will come back to school and share his journal entry with our class The children are very excited about having the chance to take Barney home and I am sure that you will appreciate the anticipation and encourage the excitement about this new adventure for Barney and your child Above is the letter I wrote to the parents of my 2quotd graders The letter was used to inform them about a new adventure that our class was about to take Also I needed to know that I had the support of all of the parents so I requested they inform me if they did not wish for their child to participate Thankfully none of the parents rejected the idea Finally Barney Bear was on his way I had no idea what I had gotten myself into with this journal As discussed through Writing Through Childhood children should have realworld writing experiences I thought this would be a fantastic way for the children to write about their world through the voice of Barney Bear Although every child will get the chance to have Barney eventually good behavior is rewarded first The children when chosen would get to take Barney Bear home on Friday and return him to class with his completed journal entry the following Monday Once the ball got rolling on this project I realized that the adventure was not only exciting for the chosen child but for the whole class We learned so much about one another and what our lives are like at home through the journal entries Volume I Number 1 Fall 2007 In the entry above my student Nicole and Barney Bear are at a St Louis ball game According to Nicole she was sticking her tongue out at her mom in fun This was a very special trip for Barney because according to Nicole Barney got cold in St Louis and needed a sweater He came back to class sporting a nice sweater and continues to wear it everyday In other journal entries students gave me insight into what their home life is really like For instance in one entry the student writes about how he and Barney Bear visited his mom in jail According to my student they talked and laughed with mom for 15 minutes My student even got to give her a kiss this time In another entry Barney wrote how he and his new friend were going someplace special if no one got gronded for arguin got grounded for arguing Throughout this course and in Writing Through Childhood I have learned to use student writing examples as tools to see what I need to go over with students again Although I did not point out speci c student work I did plan minilessons for writing For example we discussed punctuation and capitalization on more than a few occasions Also I looked at these examples as a chance to praise students for their correct use of the skills we were learning that week An entry that sparked a capitalization and punctuation minilesson Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 1 Jun mum 5 M Pinker 415 W at gruw39xw h Lh WA 2va gm wan M Mm MAME RM fwa HMS 7 m Barney Bear s adventures o en have included the parents getting very involved In addition to the planning of special things to include Barney some of the parents actually made entries in the journal My students were very excited that their parents became so involved with Barney One dad took his daughter and Barney to see Santa Barney has taken a hayride and had rides on a re truck boat fourwheeler motorcycle and bicycles As the excitement about Barney grew so did the need to involve him in more class time activities And since students must take turns and can only have Barney Bear on the weekends when the class began learning about writing friendly letters I had anidea I suggested that the students when letter writing may write to Barney if they wanted to do so This was very exciting news as often times the students would say Oh I had so much fun the other day I wish I had Barney with me I simply told the students to write a letter to Barney when they needed to tell him something I have provided two examples below October 15 2007 Dear Barney Bear Hello How are you I hope you are Well I am going to get my new motorcycle today We are riding in my dad s red truck I like it there in my dad s truck because it is big and tall Your friend Sam Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 November 23 2007 Dear Barney I am on my way to Shoe Carnival to get some new shoes It s Friday We are in Paducah We are in my mom s van It has seven seats When we get there we looked at Vans We looked at Nike then New Balance and we get the New Balance Your friend Perry What started out as a small writing project has become much more for our 2 1 grade classroom Barney Bear continues to seek adventure He will continue to encourage reading and writing with my students and involvement with their parents He will continue to bring families together for fun adventurous weekends He will continue to inspire classroom readingsharing of journal entries and writing lessons And he will continue to be the huggable friend that helps some students get through tough times at home Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 How to Set Up a Writing Workshop for First Grade By Allison Smith Writing is only one part of daily reading instruction But it is one very important part One way children learn to read is by writing This article is designed to help rst grade teachers set up a writing workshop I have collected ideas from several sources see works cited to create my own writing workshop that I use in my rst grade classroom When looking at a typical frrst grader s writing in August and then again in May you will see unbelievable growth But to get to where they are in May you have to start somewhere Young writers need help producing and organizing their thoughts at first Usually at the beginning of rst grade students will be more comfortable drawing a picture and labeling it Then they move on to writing a simple sentence By the end of the year with the teacher s modeling and conferring they advance to writing groups of sentences or paragraphs To become exceptional writers children must have time to practice writing every day as well as direct instruction on skills In my classroom we try to write in our journals every day This is a fun freewriting time that helps students enjoy writing and expressing their ideas I get them started with a fun topic I think they will enjoy writing about and is easy for them to come up with ideas to write about such as pets family school friends holidays etc We have a specific time every day where we do nothing but write After students have written they are allowed to illustrate their writing if they wish I usually set the timer and there is no talking allowed We have quiet writing time for about 7 minutes every day When the timer goes off students finish their sentence and we have two of three students share their journals with the class In addition to daily journal writing we have a Writing Workshop time where we work on a specific writing piece personal narrative poetry how to report persuasive letters etc that we work on throughout the week Our Writing Workshop takes children through the writing process one step at a time Writer s Workshops can be a meaningful way to invite students to practice and strengthen their writing skills Children need to feel good about themselves as readers and writers They need to know that the workshop is a safe place to take risks Writing and reading should start at the beginning of the year In the rst few weeks of school short whole class mini lessons are a great way to establish routines Children need to know Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 what is expected of them and how the workshop will work Some mini lesson ideas are How to Use Materials Where to Find Materials Ho to use Soft Voices and Be Respectful How to Think of Topics What to do When You Are Finished etc Establishing routines and expectations early on will allow children to work independently while the teacher is conferring with one student Mini lessons are also a great time to introduce grammar and punctuation skills such as nouns verbs commas question marks apostrophes contractions antonyms etc Writer s Workshops can be a meaningful way to invite students to practice and strengthen their writing skills Children need to feel good about themselves as readers and writers They need to know that the workshop is a safe place to take risks We do not focus on spelling right away Our goal is to write We will work on spelling when the revising and editing time comes I try to teach my students that every word doesn t have to be spelled correctly when we are trying to write We can always go back and fix misspelled words When we are writing our focus is on writing not spelling At the end of every unit we have a writing workshop that shows students how to prewrite draft revise edit and publishshare This year we will write A Story About Me personal narrative a How to Report How to Make Candy Turkeys a persuasive letter Letter to Santa a Descriptive Paragraph a Group Research Project a brochure Animal Brochure as well as lots of poems and journal entries Day 1 focuses on Prewriting Prewriting helps writers gather and focus ideas This is a time for students to focus on analyzing the audience set the purpose for their writing and brainstorm ideas Audience awareness can be hard for first graders because they assume the audience knows every person they know and everything they know The purpose or main idea controls the writing It is the message the writer wants to share with the audience Brainstorming can be a time for children to focus on the purpose Allow children to chat with a partner for 2 minutes to share their ideas After the chat students should start working on their planning page Day 2 focuses on Drafting This is when students will begin to write their ideas in sentences and paragraphs They use the planning page as a guide to begin to draft their writing Day 3 centers on Revising Revising is most successful when directed by the teacher for first graders Students may use revising checklists to help them analyze their work On Day 4 students edit their work Students can use selfediting tools to correct their work This is a also a good time to conference with the teacher to discuss student s work Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Day 5 is about publishing and sharing Students should be allowed to share their work in some way They can read it to the class as part of an Author s Chair time Or it can be shared with a partner Or even hung in the hallway as a display or put into a class book Some items are even included in each students writing portfolio We end our writing workshop with evaluation selfevaluation as well as teacher evaluation The teacher with a writing rubric scores each piece of writing I also ask students to evaluate their own work 7 did they do their best are they proud of it etc A Writers Workshop should be a time to teach children about the writing process as well as modeling how to write It helps children focus on a topic and stick to it At the beginning of the year we write together I have included a sample daily lesson plan guide to share the writing process with students I have also included our first writing workshop lesson idea 7 A Story About Me Personal Narrative It includes checklists a plan sheet and a scoring rubric Sample Daily Lesson Guide Students Day 1 Prewriting Analyze audience Set Purpose Brainstorm Ideas Day 2 Students Drafting Talk with peer 2 minute chat Complete planning page Begin drafting Day 3 Students Revising Complete drafting Begin revising Day 4 Students Editing Finish revising Edit work Confer with teacher Day 5 Students Publishing and Sharing Publish work Share 8 TOP Revising Tool S Spelling Did I spell the words as best as I can by sounding them out and using word wall words Did I use a dictionary Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 T Tells the Purpose Does my rst sentence tell the purpose of my writing 0 Organization How does my paragraph sound when I read it out loud Are there parts that do not make sense do not ow or sound funny P Punctuation Did I use the correct punctuation Did I use capitals Writing Workshop A Story About Me Personal Narrative A personal narrative is a story about something that happened to the storyteller Writing Prompt Think of something funny or unusual that happened to you and a pet or another animal Write a story about what happened Write the story for a friend to read Purpose 7 to Entertain Audience 7 a Friend Revising Checklist Does my story tell about an interesting experience in my life Does my story have a beginning middle and ending Did I use both telling sentences and questions Did I use words that show how I feel about the events in my story Editing Checklist Did I spell words correctly Did I put capitals at the beginning of sentences and names Does each sentence end with the correct punctuation Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Personal Narratlve Plannlng Sheel Day 1 Tltle w Ihaveapet Hlsha name ls One lee ul 33911 I saw 5 lgn mm Taste I fed Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 I Smell IL smell 8 may Suund Iheard Tuuch Question Haveyoueva Exclamation Ilovemy Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Name Date Personal Narrative Rubric Scoring Rubric 3 2 1 Personal story Personal story Personal story Focus Ideas focused with clearly focused not clearly clear details with some focused with details few details Has well Has beginning Events told out Order developed middle and of order beginning end middle and end Clearly Shows Shows some of No clear sense Voice how writer feels 39 I of writer39s about tonic feelings about feelings about topic the topic Vivid Precise Good word Limited word Word word choice ChOiCG ChOice does Choice supports voice someWhat quot0t suPPOI t supports voice voice Complete Complete Some Sentences sente ces sentences quot1 30umte different kinds little variety sentences no of sentences Variety Show good Shows Shows Rules understanding understanding understanding of writing of most writing of some writing Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Works Cited Grade 1 Writing Curriculum Week By Week Lessons by Kathleen A Carden and Mary Godley Sugrue Reading Street Grade 1 Unit 1 Animals Tame and Wild Reading Series by Scott Foresman The Teacher s Guide to the Four Blocks A M ultimethod M ulitlevel F ramwork for Grades 1 3 by Patricia M Cunningham Dorothy P Hall and Cheryl M Sigmon Writing Through Childhood Rethinking Process and Product by Shelley Harwayne Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 My Writing Revolution by Sandy Tinsley As a fourth grade writing teacher I am always looking for ways to advance my instruction and motivate my students to become better writers Many times I feel that my writing class is the same dayin and dayout and in desperate need of a transformation Kristen Painter s book Living and Teaching the Writing Workshop has inspired me to give my writing program an overhaul As a result my classroom has entered what has become known as the writing revolution The first and most difficult change was to begin viewing myself as a writer Being that I ve never felt confident in my writing abilities this was quite challenging However I followed Painter s plan and began writing in a journal everyday I re ected on my past experiences and all of the things that have shaped me into the writer I am today I thought about the reasons I feel the way I do about certain elements of writing and I actually learned about who I was as a writer Because I was so anxious to begin this writing revolution in my classroom I had my students complete the same entries as I was in their journals It was a wonderful experience to actually write sidebyside with my students I was able to use a think aloud strategy as I walked myself through such things as writer s block and writing down my thoughts quickly without getting hung up on spelling or grammar before the thought left my head By far these lessons were some of the best models I have ever provided my students with After journals had been implemented for a couple of weeks my students and I selected the one idea from our journals that we would like to expand on We began by rereading everything we had written I gave my students sticky notes for them to mark entries and write any additional thoughts about how each entry could be turned into a piece Many students had difficulty narrowing down their entries and choosing just one idea to focus on However with the promise that they could come back to other entries at a later time and turn them into pieces they were able to make their final selections Imagine having to promise students that they would be able to write additional pieces later I can honestly say that that has never happened to me before Once my students had their ideas it was time to write our publicity releases This is a strategy that Painter recommends to help students find a focus for their draft You begin by sharing the blurbs from the back of chapter books that tell what the book is about and the tone it takes These blurbs are similar to what the students will write as they write a short summary of their piece Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 My students had a blast with this We ended up making them into posters and illustrating our ideas similar to an advertisement for an upcoming book or movie When everyone nished their publicity release and was focused on their idea we dove into writing the rough drafts of our pieces This was a big change for me for two reasons 1 I am used to my students all writing the same genera at the same time but now I had students writing narratives poems and short stories 2 Usually I spend several days on the drafting phase Painter points out however that drafting should be done quickly So we only spent one class period on this stage of the writing process The biggest challenge in this progression was in the revision stage Painter states that students must be explicitly taught how to revise beyond just adding more Throughout the course of the next four days students worked with writing buddies and small groups we made lists on chart paper of things to look for such as similes adjectives for description figurative language etc worked independently and shared our ideas with the rest of the class At the end of it all we had some of the messiest but most productive revisions of all time Very proudly we spent two days typing our revised pieces Then students peer edited each other s work We did this in phases First we read the pieces for words that had been left out Next we read the pieces for punctuation mistakes Then we read the pieces for spelling mistakes The pieces were read one final time just to make sure we didn t miss anything Final pieces were read during a special writer s luncheon and were published in the hallway Although I have hung many stories and poems in the hallway before this was by far the proudest my students have ever been of their work and rightfully so Even though this was the end of the writing process for this piece it was not the end of the writing revolution taking place in my classroom We continue to write in our journals everyday both my students and myself sidebyside We continue to mark promising entries with sticky notes and persist in taking our selected entries through the writing process to be published Seeing the gains my students have made in writing in only a few weeks I recommend Living and Teaching the Writing Workshop to all teachers You too can have a writing revolution in your classroom Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Writing Done Write By Melissa Trabucco Since enrolling in this class I have learned many new ways to approach teaching writing to my students I have included many of these ideas in my lesson plans in order to possibly make learning how to write more interesting and fun for my students So I have decided to share stories about ideas I have used and how they worked Before taking this class it seems that they just didn t want to learn how to write simply because it wasn t fun But honestly how many kids actually enjoy writing and the process involved The rst idea I had came to me when we were writing our personal narratives The kids liked the idea of composing a personal narrative because they were talking about their favorite thing themselves The students composed their rst drafts and handed them in That night at home I read the compositions and circled errors in them for the student Then suddenly I got to thinking that the students expect me to nd errors in their writing and probably wouldn t t try to fix them as well for me So I took Hillocks suggestion for using collaborative groups and tweaked it a bit I chose to divide my students into groups of two based on their personal choice I chose to divide my students this way because I feel at this age it is important for the students to feel comfortable with the buddy they are working with It is my belief that if the student is working with a friend that they know well they will be more open to the suggestions and the criticism offered This idea became known as buddy grouping The students were instructed to take turns reading their personal narratives aloud to one another Once everyone in the group read their narrative the group had two minutes to re ect on what their buddy s writing and record two positives onto the postit notes that I provided and that is how the term positive post its came to be Along with the positives recorded on the postit I also Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 instructed the students to include two improvements as well Now I know what you re thinking how can they be positive post it s if you include improvements on them But the answer to that is simple When referring to the improvements Itold them to make them in a positive way Not to be hateful but to be helpful to a friend in need I was amazed by the sincerity my students showed when developing their positives and improvements Once the group discussion was complete I had the students return to their regular seats for discussion Once seated I asked the class what they thought we needed to improve on I recorded all of their thoughts on the board and we discussed ways in which we could accomplish each Just to make sure they got it I put an average example of a former fifth graders narrative on the overhead projector I called random students up to the overhead projector to use a marker and make suggestions on how that paper could be made better Once that was completed I allowed the students independent time to work on their own papers By taking the other students advice on improvements they could make their own compositions began to take shape After about a week of working like this our personal narratives were finally complete I feel that this idea was great and that it accomplished many things Not only did the students enjoy writing their narratives but most of them turned out better than I had imagined What a sweet victory that was both for me and for my students So now you asked how well did this idea work I had those all too familiar reluctant students that otherwise wouldn t even pick up a pencil to write listening to other students as they shared and offered up suggestions to help them improve it This is an idea I will recommend to any writing teacher because it makes me feel very good to see the students enjoying writing and helping each other in such a heartfelt way By the end of the week not only did they enjoy the process they each learned how to work cooperatively with others The students were proud of their work and so was I In conclusion my once hesitant uninterested students evolved into willing writers Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 I Thought That I Knew A Lot About Reading By Martha Barks At the beginning of this course I thought that I knew a lot about reading I have taught kindergarten for four years and feel that I have been successful at teaching my students to read I thought that I really wouldn t learn anything more about teaching reading to kindergarten students I thought that it might be geared more for upper grades Boy was I wrong The first thing that I learned was about Cambourne s Conditions for learning I read the article and went through the eight steps Then I began to look at it in terms of my classroom While reading it I could easily put activities from my classroom into these steps Then when I connected it to teaching an ELL student I didn t realize how similar it is When I get my students at the beginning of the year they are at entry level just like an ELL student is when heshe first moves to an English speaking school My students use this process in a way that they are learning letters and sounds and then move on to reading words ELL are at the point of starting out with frequently used words into speaking uently Another point that really stands out in my mind is Clymer s study In his study it shows that most rules that we use in reading do not work more than 50 percent of the time I know that the English language has a lot of irregular words in it and other words that don t follow the rules but I never dreamed that these percentages would be off by so much We teach Saxon Phonics at my school as well as a Reading Series and all of the rules that he used in this study are rules that we teach in our phonics program throughout the year The biggest one was the rule when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking He stated that since this rule doesn t work more than half of the time why teach it I thought that our phonics program worked well but am now wondering how our students would do if we did use a different approach Something else that I learned a lot about was reading the EnglishOnly Teachers in Mixed Language Classrooms book I enjoyed reading that whole book I guess that I liked her book so well because a lot of the activities and strategies that she used I could relate to in teaching kindergarten I liked the idea of using picture cards with everything I also liked the idea that she said to label everything I hadn t really thought about labeling everything in my room until reading this book I don t have ELL students but since my students are just beginning to read I can label my room so that they become familiar with and recognize these words Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Another thing that sticks out in my mind is the article on dialects grammar and writing I could not believe that people do not think that it matters if you teach grammar or not I do feel that grammar needs to be taught in order to be able to write well Iteach in a low income school so I thought that maybe it was just us when it came to having trouble with writing It seems that they don t get to have a lot of experiences so they can t write about it According to the article most teachers aren t trained enough in writing I am glad to have learned that it is not just our school it is every school One last thing that I learned about was the kidspiration lesson on rootwords I had not ever used kidspiratiion before and thought this was a great exercise I learned that kids can nd the clip art connect it to small chunks in words and nd meaning in large words Then they can place it on power point In closing I really have learned a great deal over the course of the semester I am glad that I have taken this class and gotten so many ideas to use in the future with my classes Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Getting the Big Picture of Literacy By Amanda Fox I have learned a great deal this semester from our class Reading and responding to several texts covering different topics that relate to literacy and re ecting on the implementation of some of the ideas that I ve learned has made me grow as an educator This class has helped me to put my views of phonics grammar learning English as a second language and writing into perspective As Ithink about each of these I am reminded of one thought How can I integrate these areas of learning so that children are not leaming skills or core content material in isolation I believe that children leam best when they can see the big picture and know why they are learning what they are learning In thinking about how to integrate phonics English vocabulary and grammar into other lessons so that lessons are packed full of learning Itumed to other colleagues and professionals I questioned them to gather more ideas about their views on phonics and grammar being as they were two controversial things discussed throughout this class and their ideas of ways to teach them in the 39 One really J me to nd ways to teach grammar and phonics using children s literature I personally love pictures books and took this suggestion with a smile I spent time looking for books in our school library in the Title 1 texts sets located in our Title 1 teacher s room and I also looked online I found many children s books that I would love to order for my classroom to use for phonics andor grammar instruction One book in particular which I would like to share with you really caught my attention The name is Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver This was one of the books that I shared with my colleague after my search When I showed her the book she became excited because she had actually used the book before and had a play made from the book The play came directly from the text in the book This resource had been passed along to her from someone else Sharing resources is such a wonderful thing I have gained a lot of activities and ideas from sharing with others I decided to use this book to help teach punctuation with my ESS group This is a group that usually has low attention span and does not become easily engaged in literature They talk constantly interrupt each other and yell out in class I am constantly looking for new engaging activities to use with them I was hoping this book would be one they would enjoy and they did Each student stayed attentive while I read it and several complained they were too far away and Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 wanted to be able to see it better This book is about a class whose teacher decides to give punctuation a vacation The punctuation marks take off and several days later send postcards to the students at the school The students try to write back but can39t without punctuation so they borrow the unruly punctuation marks from the class next door They write a letter begging punctuation to return that is full of punctuation errors Then the punctuation returns I nd the book really clever and fun to read The students enjoyed the dialogue between the different types of punctuation Each punctuation mark makes comments using their own mark For example the colon said It s 1100 now Let s leave at 1102 There is also a part where the punctuation marks write postcards to the class and my students loved guring out who sent which postcard based on the message that was written The students would listen and gure out that this postcard was sent by the question mark After reading discussing and retelling the story I had students recopy the letter sent by the students to the punctuation marks using correct usage Each student had a copy of the letter and practiced using the punctuation rules that we have been learning in class Once the students nished rewriting the letters with the correct punctuation we went over our changes to the letter We discussed how editing our writing really helps to improve writing As an extension I had the students get their writer39s notebooks and pick a piece that they wanted to edit They spent time editing their own and then they share with each other the changes they had made We also spent a few minutes of peer editing This lesson was very fun for my ESS students and was very enjoyable for me to teach Every chance I can I use pictures books to help teach concepts I continually seek new ideas and ways to use children s literature to help teach those speci c concepts This is a wonderful way to help children lea1n while seeing the bigger picture of literacy Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Writing Workshop A Linguistic Approach for Success By Lacey Groves Teaching language arts in the classroom is a challenging responsibility for any educator Whether you help build the foundations of reading and writing in the beginning of a child s educational career or facilitate the finetuning of his abilities later on you know how demanding it can be Understanding the complexity of language arts is the first step in helping make children successful in their reading writing and language acquisition As teachers we try every avenue to help children achieve their goals It is sometimes overwhelming to note how many different ways there are to differentiate learning for all children Interestingly enough this has been a key factor in guiding my studies this semester Teaching Kindergarten definitely is a playground for experimenting with language arts in every way These children come to you with varying levels of knowledge Some children already know how to read others are just learning how to recognize and form the letters in their name Nevertheless it makes my job exciting in discovering new ways to teach my children to read and write Last year I came across a distinguished author Katie Wood Ray who had many ideas and strategies for how to teach reading and writing to children at very young ages One of her favorite strategies to teach both reading and writing was that of writer s workshop After reading the selected texts for this course and studying further I found it motivating to see how similar ideas surfaced from other notable authors It has been my mission since then to try out Ray s ideas and expand upon her ideas on my own Writing workshop is an attractive way for teachers to get children motivated to learn new strategies in developing their reading and writing skills In a trial and error approach to writing workshop I devoted a portion of my day to inspiring children to explore the world around them through reading and writing Each day my children listen to a selection from a children s author in a minilesson around the carpet They are encouraged to notice the author s style of writing look at the illustrations and begin to understand the purpose of why the book was written These small wholegroup meetings are crucial in helping children comprehend the mechanics of writing In turn they also gain valuable insight and knowledge of how to read along the way After the minilesson the children are encouraged to take a book three to four pieces of paper white paper stapled and bound down the side and write about anything they choose I don t Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 put any limitations on the children in selecting their topics Children are walking storybooks They always have a tale to tell For my apprehensive readers and writers this free choice approach has worked well in driving their creativity The children write illustrate conference with a partner and revise their work before presenting it to the class This entire process may take several days in order to produce quality work While the children work independently on their own I conference oneonone with each child asking questions and spurring further ideas Again this personal association with each child in his reading and writing has brought about many teachable moments These ideas touch only the tip of the iceberg in learning how to put into practice a writing workshop within your own classroom I have learned many valuable lessons from children through this amazing adventure however It is very important to design these workshops with the children in mind There are tremendous paybacks for allowing children to write like children They understand best how to write about topics that interest them I ve learned that many memories can be preserved through reading and writing And as a teacher I am determined to be enthusiastic about writing our ideas down for others to read and learn from This semester heightened my awareness of how to productively and meaningfully teach language arts to young learners I am excited to take the knowledge I have gained and use it to intensify the success in my own classroom I have only highlighted one strategy that may or may not work for each of you as you embark on this linguistical journey There are many other ways to inspire children to read and write Whatever the approach you decide to take make sure you understand how unique children are Believe me they ll take you places you ve never gone before Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Learning to Teach Language Arts to English Language Learners By Christin Jackson The percentage of English language learners at the school I am currently teaching in is about 30 percent I was quite excited about reading the suggested text EnglishOnly Teachers in Mixed I an guage quot A Survival Guide Even though I have taught with many Hispanic students in my classroom for four years now I feel like I could use more knowledge in how to best teach these students with limited English skills I believe the students do learn from being around the English environment on a daily basis The ELL students tend to learn the everyday social language that is needed to perform the average daily skills Most of the ELL students often learn the English language faster than I expect them to I rst learned to modify the ELL students assignments and not expect them to do what the English speaking students are able to perform especially in writing The author suggested that the writing assignments should be short and simple as well as having a pattern they are familiar with Yatvin 2007 I have experienced this with my current third grade students in writing class One Hispanic student tends to need more help and support during writing pieces The other student seems to try more on her own but needs some help to have more meaning in the writing piece I have learned not to require as much elaboration in ELL students writing pieces since they are trying to learn the language even as they write The pieces of writing do not need to be as long as the English speaking students writings English language learning students also need to feel very welcomed and accepted in the classroom The teacher needs to accept the students and not make them feel outcasted I think it is an excellent idea to have a welcome ki for new students and parents like the author Yatvin suggested 2007 Providing new students with the necessary information a welcome letter and important names with pictures are just a few items that could be included in the welcome kit Students also need to have a welcoming classroom environment to learn many new things which includes a new language Teachers can help students feel more welcomed by including items that relate to the ELL students cultures Providing books in their own native language and using songs or art from their culture are just a few ways to help them feel included The students tend to get excited when you discuss or refer to their own culture I believe this helps build relationships with the ELL students and lets them know that you care about them Therefore the ELL students will show you more respect and become more involved if you help them feel important Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 If a teacher is going to be successful in teaching ELL students heshe will need to invest in some ELL related materials Students will need to have easier level reading books a dictionary to interpret the language many picture vocabulary cards and a teacher who explains things in great detail The teacher needs to make things as simple as possible for the ELL students to understand and comprehend information Itend to use many pictures to explain new vocabulary words Vocabulary is the main element of content that helps ELL students learn and comprehend information The meaning of words is the major area that needs to be focused on in curriculum of ELL students A studentmade vocabulary dictionary that includes pictures is beneficial ELL students will gain more knowledge of vocabulary if instruction is given in small groups or even one onone instruction Teachers should help build on their background knowledge when it comes to reading There are many ways to make learning successful with reading My favorite activity is to use a song to teach a certain skill Students often enjoy the songs and become more active in the lessons as well as comprehend the information The leading key to teaching ELL students is to model Teachers should demonstrate good language skills how they think as they read and even writing skills The ELL students will learn many skills and lessons in language arts by simply watching the teacher When teachers demonstrate certain skills they need to present the information in a variety of ways On the other hand teachers need to allow ELL students to communicate the information through a variety of forms I have learned to let ELL students simply draw pictures when they are struggling with writing something or putting it into words A successful teacher will always provide extra support for ELL students and their parents The students will feel accepted and know that the teacher is there for them when they need help A teacher should also be very understanding that learning a second language is a very difficult task ELL students have many obstacles to overcome in an environment with a new language The teacher should be the person to help them succeed Reference Yatvin J 2007 English only teachers in mixed language classrooms Portsmouth NH Heinemann Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 The Joy of Poetry in My Classroom By Callie R Wexler As an avid writer of poetry it brings me great joy to read the poetry of my imaginative students We nd many excuses to write poems in my classroom and after reading Shelley Harwayne s book Writing Through Childhood Rethinking Process and Product I have discovered many more great reasons to write poetry during our school day In one part of the book Harwayne mentions how she was inspired to write by things such as a child s crazy hat I often allow my students to freewrite poetry which gives them the opportunity to be silly or gross or funny or whatever they might be feeling that day They really enjoy having this freedom every now and then because writing in school has become very structured and functional We have certain guidelines and regulations by which we teach the children to write in order to ensure quality portfolio pieces and strong writers However I have a strong belief that children also need time to think and write like children My students have an unbelievable imagination and way of expressing their thoughts about different ideas and topics The poem below is evidence of the imaginative and amazing students in my third grade class If I Jump Through the Sky If I jump through the sky I would go to Outer Space And I would see Pluto and the hot hot Sun And the World When I get down from Outer Space I would go home and Tell my mom How Much Fun I had Jumping in the Sky The poem above was written by a nineyear student in my lowdevelopmental reading class On this particular day we were writing If I poems The students had the freedom to decide how many lines or stanzas what the topic would be whether the poem would be rhyming or not and how to end the poem The only portion of the poem that they were given was the first two words If I I was so impressed with this child s imagination because she knew in her mind that these were the things she would take the time to see if she could jump into the sky and she had an inner assurance that it was going to be a fun day Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Poetry in my classroom is also about demonstration I often demonstrate how to write a particular type of poem with the class before asking them to write that type of poem I believe this helps them understand that I make mistakes I have real feelings I am not afraid to try something new and so many other things Some poems we have written like this are Where I m From poems and I remember I forgot poems Please see the attached poem Preschool Through Second for an example of a poem we did together as a class that follows the I remember I forgot form Harwayne notes on page 295 that I allowed students to watch all the false starts crossouts and changes of mind as I drafted and continually reread and reworked my poems I agree that it is extremely important for students to understand that sometimes poetry writing is a process that can take a long time to get just right We often write poems in my classroom around the change of seasons or around the holidays because the children seem to have a lot of details they can contribute to their poetry at these times The following two poems were written by students in my class one about the Fall season and one about Christmas The Fall poem was actually tied to Science as they were required to include at least three of our Science Vocabulary words in their poem Fall is Great Fall is here Birds m Bears Hibernate The neighbors are raking the lea Deer are running happily Everybody s coming to celebrate Fall One Christmas Day One Christmas Day I woke up bright and early One Christmas Day I opened my toys One Christmas Day I prayed thanks to God One Christmas Day I started to play One Christmas Day I called for my mom dad and sister To come and open their presents One Christmas Day I heard a jolly Ho Ho One Christmas Day I went in and wrote a letter for Santa One Christmas Day I couldn t wait for next Christmas Although I am an avid poet myself and enjoy teaching poetry in the classroom I am always searching for new and creative ways to teach my children about creative writing We ask them to Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 write in so many genres about so many different topics but I hope we never lose touch of their creativity and innocence that shines through when we give them a little bit of freedom to write a poem or a song or a story of their choosing In closing Shelley Harwayne put it perfectly in her final paragraph in chapter nine I do believe that children have several strenng that facilitate their ability to wax poetic They are awed by things and not afraid to stare They notice everything paying attention to the tiniest of details They love to play with language and they do so without ever being asked They say things in surprising memorable ways They have strong feelings and are not afraid to show them They love music and take to rhythm rhyme and repetition as easily as a fashion designer takes to window shopping in Paris Teachers need to tap into children s love of poetry and capitalize on these natural poetic strengths Harwayne 321 I encourage other teachers to attempt poetry with a positive attitude and the assurance that your students will surprise you and bring a little joy to your classroom with their poems Harwayne Shelley Writing Through Chilc zood Rethinking Process and Product Portsmouth Heinemann 2001 Preschool Through Second By the Students in Ms Wexler s Reading Class I remember in Qreschool I had lots offriends Alex Someone s brother hitting me in the stomach Blake Playing with my best buddy Kaitlyn Making a lot of glittery crafts Alexis Playing with the bus Cody V I remember in kindergarten called my teacher quotTeacherquot Alex I wrote my name on afake apple it wasn t very good Kaitlyn Playing with the toy bricks and knocking them down Damian I got to hold real baby chicks Alexis Going to the hospital and getting my tonsils out Cody V I remember in first grade When I had a wreck and broke my collarbone Blake Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 Walking in the classroom l was a new student and meeting Mrs Brooke Kaitlyn Me and Selena slipped in the mud Faith When we were doing adding had a hard time with 20 20 Cody fell off the monkey bars and my two front teeth fell out Alexis I remember in second grade Throwing water balloons at a party Nathanael I made myfirst 100 A Alex When me and Nathanaelfirst turnedfriends Damian Throwing up on the playground Cody V I got allA s on my report card Selena My teacher s name James My manners during tutoring Cody V My homework Alexis Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 The Importance of Writer s Workshop By Charlotte Goddard After spending many hours wading through and analyzing data from last year s CATS test I have come to the conclusion that yet again another year our writing is suffering It is taking a backseat to the many demands of public school curriculum Well friends I humbly submit to you that writing can no longer be viewed as a disposable piece of the curriculum which we can simply sweep under the carpet I submit that it is time to confront our fears of writing head on with some targeted writing professional development Considering the meager funding that remains for professional development and the school wide assessmentbased need for a stronger writing program I would like to propose a solution I feel strongly that we as a professional learning community are the best source of professional development Therefore I recommend we each purchase a copy of Writing Through Childhood Rethinking Process and Product I believe that we will each individually glean jewels of information of which we can share with one another through a few book discussion meetings In order to be productive I propose that as we begin reading our assigned chapters each teacher should begin brainstorming ways that the ideas and concepts could be used in his or her own room We can share ideas with each other during each book meeting Please allow me to give a brief overview of some ideas presented in the book Let s start off with the idea of writer s workshop The atmosphere of the entire school is one of a learning community Students are able to move freely through the school as they need to research or conduct surveys for writing Writing is emphasized as a link between reading and knowing The concept of writer s workshop in this author s mind is to have an uninterrupted daily block set aside in which children explore books authors and genres in order to learn writing styles spend time writing conferring editing and publishing pieces of work The teacher models appropriate minilessons in whole group small groups or individually based on needs Most lessons are anchored with a text which conveys the message of the lesson in question For example if a teacher is trying to stretch a student to a more challenging structure for a personal narrative she might read Daddy Played Music for the Cows If a teacher were trying to get her class to put more description in their writing she might read Motley the Cat and anchor a minilesson around the description Writer s workshop should have consistent rules and routines which the teacher has trained their students to follow with the intention of maintaining order as she walks around the room conducting Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 2007 individual conferences All students should be working on writing in some way They should be reading a book to help them with writing or they should be writing conferring editing or publishing You might be thinking how can a teacher keep her students writing First of all a teacher must instill a passion within them for writing The best way to do that is by modeling love for writing and showing students the different purposes for writing Next a teacher can begin building writing uency through the use of a writer s notebook Writer s notebooks are very frankly a concept I had never heard of before I began reading Writing Through Childhood Rethinking Process and Product A writer s purpose has one goal and one goal only that is getting a student to write A student can put any genre or style of writing he or she wishes in it It can be a quick jot down list It can be a favorite memory It can be lines of poetry moving through the student s mind The purpose of the notebook is to develop writing uency for sustained amounts of time As students learn to do this and develop a repertoire of writing they can begin to pull out pieces to refine to edit and to eventually publish The raw pieces become foundations for breathtaking masterpieces It is a matter of gently guiding and directing students along with giving them artistic freedom to make challenging choices about their writing I personally feel our school should discuss some criteria for implementing writer s notebooks and writer s workshop At our next book discussion we should also discuss some indicators or criteria for creating a supportive atmosphere for the writing workshop school wide I can only imagine how students writing will improve if we ignite a passion for writing within our children