Happy Sunday everyone and welcome to Writing Sundays.
It’s been a crazy week! I have a new student who does not speak English and is having difficulty understanding that running out of the room when you feel like it is not acceptable (and it gives the teacher a heart attack!) I must say though, that the students in my room are super duper at helping him to understand the routines. He is now learning and printing the alphabet and drawing and coloring with us. I just can’t wait until I can help him to express himself orally in English so that we can work together to get his ideas and feelings in writing or on the computer. (I know this will be a while, but it’s still exciting to me.) I co-wrote an article years ago for a primary teaching journal on utilizing what the student already brings to school to help teach them. I hope to use a little of that to help this little guy adjust to his new classroom.
With that being said, we did some free writing this week so that I could get an idea of where their writing skills currently are and where we need to go. Students were allowed to write fiction or non-fiction. I like to do this BEFORE I teach about the format or organization of writing like beginning, middle and end or the details such as describing words, and transitional words. We will be doing an in-class pre-assessment on Monday and I will discuss that next week.
Using Writer’s Notebooks
Our Interactive Writer’s Notebooks were ready to go for this week. IDEAS is the trait we are working on and I continued on with Kevin Henkes as our author. We discussed how Kevin Henkes might get his ideas for writing. We read Wemberly Worried. This is a great book because the students can really relate to it.
I showed them how to think like a reader and as I read, I stopped and used my thought bubble and told them what I was thinking about as I read. I also showed them how to take the role of Wemberly as she worried and I talked through her worries. We wrote about Wemberly’s Worries and how it led to other worries. You can see this writing activity here.
This was a great segway into our Interactive Writer’s Notebooks lessons for the week. Using children’s books is so powerful! You can read more on children’s book units here.
We used our memories to build ideas. One of these was fears.
The other lesson we did was just a way to “spark” ideas. We brainstormed some “what if” scenarios and then we completed the next page of our Interactive Notebook page. Students were allowed to choose their own “what if” but most chose the one I gave them at the end: What if…I could fly.
I was so impressed with all of the students’ ideas. One student had an interesting picture and when I asked her about it, I was quite surprised at the complexity of her answer. This is one reason why I try to differentiate learning so much and provide activities that free me up to ask students about their work. I’m always amazed at the thought that goes into it. She said she has a NO CARS part to her picture because “cars are part of the reason why the polar caps are melting. Polar bears have to swim farther for food and often their babies don’t make it. If that happens, the polar population is smaller and the seal population (which is the food they eat) will increase. That will make the seal’s food scarce and so on and so on.”
I wanted to share with you a lovely piece of writing I received this week during one of our “free writes”.
Last week, we learned about bucket filling and how to fill a bucket. We learned about the parts of our brain that are responsible for new learning, memories and the “adrenaline” part of your brain which is the part that needs regulating so that you can control your emotions and stay safe. We talked about what bucket filling looks like and how sometimes just a smile can change someone’s day. Well, during the free write, one of my students filled my bucket RIGHT UP with this lovely piece of writing I just had to share.
It’s lovely things like this that make a hectic week so worthwhile. Next week, we will be continuing on with our Writer’s Notebooks and we will be having an informal writing assessment that I will use to see growth throughout time in my students’ writing development.