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.

small moments make BIG ideas

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This week, in my wonderful 3rd grade classroom, we embarked on the “small moment” journey again!  We have done this type of writing a few times in the classroom and the students really love sharing their stories.  As the lesson started, I reminded them of the time we had completed this activity before.  They were excited to tackle the task again.  We read together A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams.

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After reading the story, I asked them what they considered the “small moment” in this story.  Some students said it was the money jar.  Other students thought it was the fire and ways they tried collect money for their jar.  Some students mentioned the chair being the small moment.  I asked them why they thought the chair might be the small moment.  I definitely didn’t want to tell them they were right or wrong because in my opinion all of the ideas were correct and each student who spoke of the idea was able to explain why they thought so.  This started a great conversation among my very intelligent, outside of the box thinking 3rd graders.  We spent about 8 minutes reading the story and about 10 talking about their thoughts and ideas.  After we talked about some of the small moments in the story, I geared their thinking towards the chair.  We talked about all the things that was related to the chair and why.  We talked about how one small thing turned into a beautiful story.  My students were starting to ask when they could start writing their story.  I could tell they were anxious to tell their stories.  I asked them to think of some “small moments” that has happened in their life or something that is very special to them that has a story behind it.  On the first day, we only thought about our different small moments.  We didn’t begin writing until the next day.  I wanted to my students to only focus on what they could write about and be able to think about whatever they wanted and more than one idea.  I asked them to only brainstorm some small moment ideas so they could go home that night and really think about the one they wanted to write about.  I also told them that if they thought of something totally different, while they were thinking they could write about that if they chose.  They were able to sort of free write with a little boundary and guidance.  As the students were brainstorming, I walked around and if I saw some students struggling I would read other students examples they had written to spark an idea.  This seemed to help some of the students who couldn’t think of any small moments that have occurred in their lives.  I personally visited their seat and we talked about some things that were important to them or something they remember really well.  This began to help them and when they were able to think of one or two, they were able to get their third one without me guiding them.

One the second day, we discussed small moments and some students shared their ideas of their specific small moments.  I then asked them to simply write about their small moment.  Write what they remember about the moment, what it felt like, smelled like, looked like or tasted like.  They seemed to put pencil to paper and not stop.  Some finished early and asked if they could draw a picture to go with their story and of course I was glad to see their picture and for their story to come to life.  After spending about 15-20 minutes on their writing we had our sharing time!  Below are links to videos of two students sharing their writing in my classroom.  The password to view the video is 123!  ENJOY!

Student Sharing 1

Student Sharing 2

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.