The dot, dot, dot

My students have been diligently writing in their little notebook necklaces. They take them home and wear them around school. I have one student in particular who seems to really enjoy the idea of writing notes for small moment stories. Marty came up to me during lunch and read all his notes so far. I wanted to highlight him this week because normally he is a reluctant writer. It’s all about just getting the words down on paper!

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I am bad at breaking paper (ripping out pages in our math book). Mrs. Evans changed our desks. Daily 5 is fun. Marlene fake cried. Lance was sick. I was worried. I was late for lunch.

Now to the dot, dot, dot. In this minilesson, we took a closer look at Angela Johnson’s book, Joshua’s Night Whispers, in an attempt to see what exactly she does to write a good story. I had them watch a video of the book on YouTube using my smart board so the words would be big enough for everyone to see. After the video ended, I had them get a partner and talk about what exactly they noticed about her words. I typed their responses on the smart board as they spoke for the class to see.

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I asked my students to pick just one that some of them had not noticed before or had never seen before. Everyone said in unison, “The dots!” I told them I was going to make a chart to keep track of what we notice as we study her books. I added that it is a special chart called a craft chart and the word craft is a used to describe a technique a writer uses in their writing. As I read each section, they supplied the answers.

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With the section “Why is she doing this?”, I read the book aloud and in a manner they they could hear the suspense so they picked up on the meaning of the dots quickly. With the section “Other Books?”, I had already noticed Gus using ellipses in a book he was writing. I asked him to go get his book. Using my document camera, I projected it on my smart board and read it aloud. When I got to the part where he used ellipses, I stopped and asked if they could hear how the dots created suspense. They all said yes and wanted me to turn the page! It was sort of anticlimactic as you can see below, but he did use them correctly and I was very impressed.

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Front Cover ~ The Bunk Bed Page 1 ~ It was night time. I was on the top bunk. Page 2 ~ The top mattress was about to fall!  Page 3 ~ I didn’t call for help. Page 4 ~ So the next day…  Page 5 ~ I told mom  Page 6 ~ She sold the bunk-bed Page 7 ~ We got a new bed. Page 8 ~ I got a Batman bed  Maddy got a owl bed.

The next day, I told my students that I was going to show them how to use the dot, dot, dot technique with my own small moment story. The other day, I wrote the words “card in glove compartment” on my little piece of paper to remind me of the time I forgot my wedding anniversary.  I showed them my story on the smart board and read it to them. I then asked my class to listen to the story one more time and listen for a good place to put the dot, dot, dot. I asked them to listen for a place where something might be about to happen or a place where you would want to turn the page to find out what happens. You can see below where they told me to put the dot, dot, dot. I thought they did a wonderful job. It was about this time that one student started chanting “the dot, dot, dot” over and over so of course everyone joined in. It was funny!

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I told my students when they see something another author does that they admire, then try to use it in your own writing too. I sent them off to Daily 5 and it wasn’t long before I was bombarded with the dot, dot, dot as you can see below.

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I even had two of my first-graders try out this new technique in their own writing. I was so proud!

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One day in P.E. I almost got hit…

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Then I went home    I went to bed then I closed my eyes…

I absolutely LOVE using Lucy Calkins and Amanda Hartman’s unit Authors As Mentors and the whole concept of writer’s workshop! What a wonderful approach to teaching writing.

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4 thoughts on “The dot, dot, dot

  1. Michelle Todd says:

    This was a great lesson. I think you will begin to see a lot of “dot, dot ,dot” going on in your writing center. I like that this lesson teaches one thing authors do that make their writing more clear to the readers and that the students have a chance to practice this technique on their own. I too ready like how Lucy Calkins and Amanda Hartman present instruction in their series of books. I wish we had the set to teach from. This is a great resource.

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  2. Hannah Brady says:

    I really like the notebook necklace idea. It definitely gives the students the opportunity to write at any time! It’s also a good reminder for the students that so many times a day we have thoughts that are noteworthy, literally!

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  3. bethdaltonblog says:

    Wow! What an amazing job you did with your students. I LOVE the necklace idea and I definitely think it gets them motivated! It also helps the students share their work with their parents and then it becomes that much more important!

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  4. bethabuchholz says:

    I am blown away by your teaching AND by this blog post! Wow!

    Looking back on your blog posts from earlier this semester, there’s already such a clear change in the ways you’re thinking about writing instruction and what you now think/know is possible in your classroom. You show us that first graders CAN learn from mentor texts–and that once they learn this strategy, they begin to look at every book they read just a little differently. Your students are well on their way to “reading like writers”! That collage of photos in this post of all those little fingers pointing at “dot, dot, dot” in different books is remarkable. And then to see children apply the craft/strategy in their own writing–such validation that good writing instruction matters. 🙂

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