Sunday, April 21, 2013 favorite strategy...Let it out!

From Google Images
When I was in the classroom, poetry was the main vehicle I used at the beginning of the year.  I used it to steer the reluctant writer, to squash perceptions that longer is better, and it put the sound of language and word choice at the forefront.  This focus always provided a solid foundation for examining words, phrases, and moods in reading and writing all year.

As the year begins to wind down (7 more Sunday nights!...I count Sunday nights instead of days :), I always found poetry at the forefront again.  It was that time to use the community we had built to dig deep into our messages as a writer, our words, our phrases, and our moods.  Time to share more of ourselves as the journey in our classroom began to come to an end.

My favorite strategy in poetry writing is one I call...Let it out.  I was reminded of this strategy today as I struggled with memories of my father.  Seemed he was everywhere today. So I decided to ...let it out!  This strategy has three steps.

1.  Let the ideas out.  Write without punctuation and just let the ideas or feelings flow.

I think of him all day  he consumes my thoughts I see him at soccer games  I feel him on the golf course I hear him as I seek advice and comfort it is the memories that provide the warmth to the void I feel today

2.  Insert line breaks.  Insert pauses as you feel, think, wonder, or remember as you read it again.

I think of him
All day
He consumes my thoughts
I hear him at soccer games
I feel him on the golf course
I hear him on the phones
As I seek advice
And comfort
It is the memories that provide
Warmth to the void
I feel today

3.  Let the words out...Change words, delete words, play with tenses.  And my third attempt would be...

I think of him
All day
Consuming my thoughts
At soccer games
On the golf course
On the phone
Seeking advice
Seeking comfort
The memories
Warmth to the void

This sequence also helps students with seeing writing as a process and revising with immediate changes in a short sample.  Try it...let it out! :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Text set...built around wonder...

This text set (3 books and a Wonder) were developed around the concept of putting a subject's  motivation at the forefront.  Time to examine a real person's motivations, struggles, decisions, and reactions by using an event from our past.  Text sets are built around the idea of giving students time.  Time to gain a deeper understanding.  Time to use new knowledge as background knowledge the next day.  Time to ask questions.  Time to wonder.  Time to act on curiosity.

Also...check out Wonder 236...How Long is the Longest Bridge?

A historical account of the bridge from beginning to end
A text to understand the worker's point of view.
An encounter of how the march across the bridge unfolded.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Text sets...built around character

Kids are always thinking.  Kids always want to know more.  Kids are curious.  Text sets provide students with the avenue to act on their curiosity and to develop background knowledge that can be used immediately with another text.

Last year I spent the majority of my time focused on providing a text set that included fiction and non-fiction.  I was always faced with the decision of which one to read first for interactive read aloud. You might look at this text set and think...these two texts are together because they both have a goat on the cover.  Text sets are not topics by convenience.  Text sets are paired together to strengthen and develop meaning because no text provides meaning alone.  All the text we read are developed and become meaningful in connection to another text.

I wanted to support students in learning about characters and their motivations.  Furthermore, I wanted students to be able to read a non-fiction text and view the subject as a character.  I wanted the students to use the same thinking about a character in non-fiction as they do when reading a fiction text.  That was how this text set was formed.

The first text, Beatrice's Goat, is about a little girl who receives a gift.  The gift is a goat and in her African Village this goat will give more than the gift of milk.

The Goat Lady, which tells the story of a misunderstand lady who has provided goat's milk for people who in need and has sent her extra goats to poor countries through the Heifer Project.  Students can learn about the Heifer Project and how it impacts our world today.  There is even a blurb in the book that relays more true facts about this text.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New perspective...with Curious Critters!

I am in love with this book!  The photographs...the witty perspective...the informational text in the back...the use of print...

This text would be a great mentor text for writing from perspective when trying to convey facts and details.  Also, when paired with an expository text, it would provide an opportunity to work on Common Core Anchor 9: analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Curious about these curious is a link to a flip book of the first few pages.

Curious Critters Flip Pages (great for projecting in the classroom!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

OLW for March: CREATE-ing text sets...

I have realized that I am becoming obsessed with CREATE-ing (developing) text sets that lead to inquiry.  In anchor 9 of the Common Core, students are being pushed to analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.  Literature...Informational does not matter.  When using text sets to promote and extend inquiry opportunities, students are nudged to think beyond a venn diagram, to think beyond the fact that everything they learn is unknown to new, and to think beyond connections.  Students are using connections and experiences to see components, patterns, ideas, and text structures that the author uses to learn about topic in a different way.

When creating text sets in the classroom...I have found that I have had to use the following thinking to develop these text sets...

Students need to have experiences that allow the unknown information learned today or the thinking that was developed to a different level to become tomorrow's background knowledge.  Students need opportunities to not only develop background knowledge but use this knowledge to further their learning and thinking in a meaningful way.

Here is an example of a text set that leads to inquiry...

1.  Sleep Like a Tiger-  This book is wonderful!  From the concept of problem/solution to the beautiful figurative language.  All students will further their thinking with this text.

 2. In the book above,  the author uses the comparison of how and when a bat sleeps to encourage a little girl to sleep, even though she didn't want to.  The little girl makes a statement that bats don't sleep and the parents further explain a bats sleeping habits.  The book, Bats, would support students in understanding if the little girl's statement is accurate.

3.  Inquiry- So how do various animals sleep?  This text further develops a student's thinking about the way various types of animals sleep...beyond the obvious animals...armadillos, European bee-eaters, warthogs, and more!  It would be interesting to use one of these animals and try to incorporate it into the storyline of Sleep Like a Tiger.  Why did the author choose those specific animals for the story based on what you have learned now?  Students could also create more figurative language ideas based around the new animals in this text, Time to Sleep.

4.  More inquiry- What does happen while we sleep? While You Were Sleeping is full of fun facts that happen at night...great for analyzing comparisons in informational text...pairs nicely with the figurative language approach to Sleep Like a Tiger.  Figurative language is based on comparisons!