EVERYONE Has a Story to Share

 

Within my individualized reading plan, I am reading, Talking, Drawing, Writing Lessons for our Youngest Writers by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe. I have been reading about how to get children ready to write by using stories. Using stories encourages children to feel that their own thoughts are important and they can actually own their stories. As well as the fact that everyone has their own words to share. Some children may be reluctant to share; but with modeling and positive and safe communication, with each other, detailed stories can emerge. We all have stories and so we should learn to share them.

Being quite far in the year, I know that most of of students are already writing a sentence on their own. They may still need support with spelling, reminders of spacing and are writing simple structured 3-6 word sentences. Ex: I see the blue cat. or Six hens hop. They complete most of their writing in a journal, at the writing center and on sentence strips during guided reading. I want to encourage them that they can write more and do not have to be perfect to write. I want them to just share their thoughts on paper with a picture and words. I plan on giving my students an additional drawing and writing journal for creating and crafting written stories based on their oral stories. Writing individual stories and class stories is a goal of mine for teaching writing.

With all of this in mind I wanted to read some stories that my students are familiar with that could lead to them practicing the skill of retelling. So I decided to use different versions of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, ending with Jan Brett’s version, since we love her. I began last Friday and finished up reading the different versions of Goldilocks on Wednesday. The versions we read are listed below:

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I also used a version from a LaidLaw basal reader titled, The Three Bears.

After each story we practiced retelling and as we read another we practiced comparing them to each other. It created some great conversations and the actions on the bears and Goldilocks and what they would have done in similar situations. I also had many stories shared of students not listening to their parents, walking in the woods, dressing for winter weather and eating soup. These stories were what I was hoping for. I shared a story each day to add another layer of storytelling, that was not related to the Goldilocks books.

On the last day I shared a story about being read to by my mother. I shared that I can still picture her reading a book to me. It was Pinocchio and it was an old copy that she was reading.  I shared that I can still see the pictures from the  big Golden book she read. I talked about how the pages wore torn and bend and I didn’t care, just because my mom was reading it.

 

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This of course led into them wanting to tell me about the books that they like to be read to with at home. I let them know that we would be sharing stories and working on writing them down, like we are a author like Jan Brett or Joy Cowley (we love her too).

I began to talk to a couple of students yesterday about a story that they would like to write about as their first story in their new drawing and writing journal. I made some notes, so that I can remember what they (informally) conferenced with me about. I tried to retell back to students as they orally told me about stories from home. I tried to help them keep the story in order. I only made it through three students. I was not able to get to any story telling today. On Monday, with these three students I will begin modeling how to create detailed information for one part of their personal story, based on their retelling. I will model this with a story of my own in my own drawing and writing journal.

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Susan Davis’ K-1 Writers

My classroom is made up of 15 funny, sweet, and energetic students!  I have 9 First graders and 6 Kindergarteners.  For the first time in my teaching career I have more girls than boys.  This year I have 11 girls in my class and only 4 boys!  My classroom is a mix of ages, abilities, and backgrounds.  I have 6 Hispanic students in my classroom, all of which speak English, but it can be hard at times to communicate with families as I am not fluent in Spanish at all!

This year, more than ever, my students have been motivated to write.  They are not all writing a lot right now, and sometimes I have trouble reading it, but they are all trying.  I have never really looked at myself as a writer, but I took a class last semester at ASU that helped me to see myself more as a writer.  Through this class, I was required to do a lot of writing and to involve my students in lesson plans that involved getting them to write more.  I told my students that I was in school and learning how to be a better writer, I even showed them my writing notebook.  I believe that letting students know that I write daily, and that I too am going to school to learn how to write better encouraged them to try harder.  They thought that it is amazing that I’m in school too!  Through classes at ASU, I have also been reminded of just how important it is to model writing each day.  Some days we, as teachers, are pressed to get everything in and can skip this very important step.

I teach writing by modeling whole group, explaining my reasoning, and allowing students to have input.  Students then work independently as my assistant and I roam around the room and check in on them.  Writing is also doing in my small reading groups.  I have students write about the books that we are reading.  First graders practice writing prompts, and Kindergarten students write about their favorite part of the book, what happened in the book, etc.  We also have Daily 5 each day.  During Daily 5, students have a chance to write about anything they would like.  Some students take this time to write stories, letters to friends, make a card, anything their little minds can imagine.

This semester, I want to be able to continue encouraging my students to view writing as fun and to see themselves as writers.  I want them to learn that they are a writer, no matter the level that they are writing at.  I also want to know more about writers workshops.  When I was student teaching, I used writers workshop but was learning as I went.  I liked using it and want to know more.  I want to use the suggestions in our reading to encourage and support my students with their writing.  I will use the readings to help me set my classroom up as a positive environment that promotes writing!

 

Kindergarten Classroom Writing Instruction

After Christmas break, we began our writing workshop.  Don’t get me wrong, there has been some writing instruction going on in our classroom from the beginning of school.  At the beginning of school, our Principal made it mandatory that for the first fifteen minutes of school every classroom in every grade would be reading.  For the first couple of days, our students were read to on the carpet during that time in whole group, with the teacher allowing the students to answer and ask questions about the story and even tell a few stories of their own.  After a few days, Mrs. Wyatt, the Kindergarten teacher I assist, and one who has years of teaching experience, opened the flood gate!  Let the teaching begin!

It became apparent to me from the very beginning that Mrs. Wyatt understood the process of teaching writing and that being able to read played an important role in each student’s ability to write.   She strategically placed reading material at each student’s desk and every morning for the required fifteen minute reading time, each student read their books.  In our classroom we have writing opportunity during Daily Five for twenty minutes.  At first and even still now as their reading material changes levels and they are required to write a sentence or two about their readings they would line up at my desk for assistance in pronouncing and spelling words.  Since ninety some days have passed and they still try to line up but I send them back to their desk to use their learned skills in Phoneme awareness (e.g., ability to represent phoneme or sound segments in the spelling of short words), word recognition (ability to read a 10- word list comprised of “sight” words (e.g., is, and, the) and short-vowel words (e.g., lap, met, job).  They learn most of this through Letterland. I said all this because in order to be a good writer they have to be able to read what they write.

As for myself as a Teacher Writer, it’s a work in progress.  I am making progress toward my goal of being a Reading Specialist, which would require me to get over dreading and avoiding writing.  My classes have helped me tremendously.  I’ve been freed from the bondage of fear and doubt that I couldn’t do it and firmly believe now that “If it is to be, It’s Up to Me”.  I have gained knowledge, strategies, teaching skills and confidence that will help me get the job done.  I use my learned strategies daily in my classroom.  The teacher I work with says there is a noticeable difference this year in the students speed of growth in reading and writing.  Some questions and concerns that I have are:   Will I be able to practice some of the practices I have learned in this program with our school curriculum?  I feel this stands in my way.   Will the other teachers in the school embrace my perspectives?  One thing for sure, I am honored to have taken this step of achievement with all of you and welcome the opportunity to create a district collaborative for Teacher Writing at our schools.