Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We were WONDER #1044!

WONDERful news! My school co-authored a Wonder of the Day on and it was posted today!!!!!  We were wonder #1044.  

The website is brought to life by the National Council of Family Literacy.  Wonderopolis connects learning in schools to our homes/communities.  Their approach informs and encourages inquiry and discovery in the family and classroom setting.  The Wonders are aligned with CCSS, STEM, and Blooms Taxonomy.  Back in December, NCFL sent a team to our school to discuss what it was like to author a website and write informational text.  Our school brainstormed possible new wonders.  Then, a fifth grade Wonder Writing Team researched and wrote the answer to our school question...Can Coins Bring Good Fortune?  Today it appeared as the Wonder of the Day.  Please check out the link to see the connections to media, vocabulary, and inquiry.  Congratulations to our students!  Thank you to Wonderopolis!!!!

I am feeling a tshirt in the making...instead of their flamingo tshirts...mine would say "I know if coins bring good fortune!" with a big number 1044 on the back! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Which type of writing to start the year?

Which type of writing to start the year...informational, narrative, or opinion/argumentative?  When looking through writing resources available, most start with narrative.  Narrative gives students a chance to tell their story and to learn about them personally as we begin to develop our intellectual communities in writing workshop.  But what about this twist?  What about starting the year with opinion/argumentative writing?  What message would that send our students?  It would send the message that we all have opinions (just like we all have bellybuttons), we all need to be heard, we will use text as a trigger to share personal experiences/feelings, and we have the right to change our mind as we gather new knowledge through text and conversation.

I have been sharing a series with some teachers titled, This or That ________ Debate: A Rip Roaring Game of Either/Or Questions.  This series has an animal debate book, history debate, sports debate, and
survival debate. Would you rather run fast like a cheetah or long like a wolf?  Would you rather swim with a great white shark or a jellyfish?  Would you rather help build Mount Rushmore or build the Panama Canal?

Readers are presented with a question and a two page spread that presents text features and details about each side of the debate.  The reader must decide what they would rather do.  A great opportunity to answer the question without reading (students can share personal experiences, feelings and known knowledge), read (model reading nonfiction), share (speaking and listening), find details (evidence based), and then make your final decision (drawing conclusions).  Students can write in the OREO format (opinion writing) to discuss their final side.

Hmmm...what is your opinion?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My new "in-between" graphic novel...

While at the bookstore this week, my daughter was looking for a "quick read."  I asked her to define "quick read" and she said it was a book that was easy to follow, might be silly, and did not need a bookmark.  So there you have future third grader's definition of a quick read.

My daughter loves books.  She loves to hear them read aloud and she chooses to read, but right now she is working through the picture book to chapter book phase.  She wants to read chapter books by herself but needs encouragement to work through a page with no pictures.  Sometimes she is frustrated to put the bookmark in so she can go back to the book the next time she reads.  Graphic novels are her "go-to" books.  She is attracted to the pictures but appreciates the numbers of pages and the humor of the series characters.

She began with the two voice style of Elephant and Piggie, but now feels that she needs more.

She then went to Babymouse.  The character and the idea of a series motivated her but she still needed support with some of the vocabulary and wanted to be more independent.

So..this week she found her new "in-between" graphic novel...Meet Bean Dog and Nugget!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Modeling the role of talk with our new classroom communities...

I was at the bookstore today and overheard a woman in the aisle next to me.  She was with a friend asking the bookseller, "Do you have any books, picture books, that I could read to promote community and respect?  Did I say...third grade?"  The woman had not found her match with the picture books on display titled, "Back to School."

So of course, if you know me, I jumped in.  I discussed several titles with the two women and let them be to decide #1 if I was crazy #2 to look for the titles we had discussed   Our paths met again in the check out line.  Two of the titles caught her interest and was buying both...Courage and Duck! Rabbit!  She saw the potential in the first book, but questioned the second title. it I used Duck!Rabbit! to model the importance of listening to one another respectfully, understanding each other's point of view, supporting thinking with evidence or own experiences, and talking to start the year.

1.  I paused the first scene from a YouTube reading of the book where it is just the character, no title.  The video is included below.  I asked students to silently look at the picture and write down what they thought the character was while sitting at their seats.  The students then came to the carpet and began sharing their responses.  (notice thoughts are left at their seats so they won't be changed) Right away students began discussing what they saw and pointing to evidence. Students learned quickly to appreciate what they did not notice at first and the value of listening while their peers are explaining.

2.  Then we watched the YouTube reading of the book, pausing at several points to discuss the new evidence we have seen...Has our thinking changed now?  What in the text made you think that?  Has my thinking been persuaded down a new path?  Do I see your point of view but I am still convinced that I was right?

3.  Then the students went back to their seats and wrote about what they thought the main character was now by supporting their thinking with evidence from conversations or text.  Students came to realize that conversation can lift your thinking or take you down a road that was not thought of initially.

Students were engaged and interested in this moment because they came to realize that there is no right or wrong answer.  They began to ask why or why not, determine importance, and realize that conversation leads to deeper understanding because the students are questioning.