Last week I started Writer’s Workshop with my grade 1 and 2 students. Before they begin writing, I like them to analyse the structure of the stories that they read. We begin with a read aloud and then, as a class, we discuss the beginning, middle, and end of a story.
The next step in my lesson is for them to work in pairs. The story that I give them to work on is a simple one in the which structure can be easily determined. Working in pairs means that they can discuss their options – and it also gives them the confidence to do the task.
Tomorrow I will encourage them to work solo to figure out the three parts of the story I will give them. Some children may make errors but it is a first step – they can only improve from there. I do not look for perfection but for the sense that they kind of understand the concept. After all, they are emerging readers.
In the month of July during my Summer Break from school, I have spent a little time every day reading teacher-related books to be inspired and gain some new ideas to keep my teaching practice fresh. The book I finished recently is the one Larry Swartz brought out last year titled Word By Word.
The book centres on vocabulary building and has many suggestions for activities that can be implemented in literacy centres. The aim of vocabulary building is to encourage children to collect words and to use them in their writing and speaking activities.
“Many of us – including young people – are collectors of things: stamps, coins, plush toys , dolls, figurines, comics, spoons, snow globes, etc. The goal … is to have students become word collectors so they can store them, use them, marvel in them, and expand their knowledge about them.” ( p11, 2019, Pembroke Publishers)
I am already implementing a couple of the activities in my classroom suggested by Swartz. I look forward to trying out a few more of his suggestions to get the kids excited about learning new vocabulary and using the words that they have learned.
I was so happy when I saw that The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds had been translated in French which meant that I could use it in my classroom. I love the story about a little boy who enjoys words so much that he collects them. Eventually he makes sentences with his collection; and when his collection gets too big, he shares the words with everyone.
This week I read the story to my grade 1 and 2 students and afterwards I opened a centre at which they browsed through some books and found words to record in a notebook. My plan is that at the end of every week, my students will take the notebook home in order to practice reading and writing the words they have collected.
The children love the activity – especially as they are able to write using colorful gel pens. This is one task that they will all complete with joy!
This week I am grateful for authors and illustrators who create stories that inspire my lessons and centre tasks. It always makes me smile to see the children enjoying both the stories and the activities.
In order to encourage creative writing in my class of grade 1s and 2s in a French Immersion school, I use the strategies described by Lucy Calkins to implement a Writer’s Workshop. The children are always working on a story. and can wrote at their own pace. Currently storyboard templates are available so they can choose to create a graphic story. My grade 2 boys love this activity and, once they have completed all other set tasks, can be seen working on their writing dossier.
I love that they are so engaged in creating – even those who are not too keen on writing. I hear them correcting one another and sharing their stories. They come to me and ask me how to express something in French – and then attempt to record the sentence (in writer’s workshop correct spelling is not the important focus – writing down the idea is). I cannot help but smile at their enthusiasm and look forward to reading their creations.
The age group that I teach love colouring and always welcome an opportunity to use bright colours. For a recent activity on writing, I asked them to colour and describe a monster. Using the co-created poster of adjectives, they wrote down adjectives of their choice to describe their monsters. .
Not only do I enjoy seeing their colourful monsters, but I love that the children have managed to describe their monsters using the classroom resources in the language that they are learning.
Good morning to you and welcome. A cup of something warm would be appreciated as it is still a little chilly outside. Afternoons are warming up and some brave people – and many children – are going outside in their short sleeves.
The past week has been busy and yet fulfilling. I am getting everything ready so that I can put a final mark next to the work my students have done during the second half of the year. I have read with most of them, given them their final writing “test’, and organised all their work. In the upcoming week I shall listen to them speak with a view of giving them a mark, and complete the final Science activity for the report card. I am hoping by the end of next week to have all of the marks recorded so that on Friday (the PA day set aside for reporting), I can complete my report cards. If everything is in place and I focus, I know that I can do it!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I tried a new activity with my students during the past week and it worked very well. For our inquiry on animals, I took out non-fiction books on a range of creatures from our school library. I asked the children to choose a book to do research on an animal of their choice. With the help of sentence starters, they took down notes to record the information they had found. With this information, they wrote a paragraph which I then corrected.
The fun part of the activity was when the children worked on their neat copy. They typed their paragraph into an app using the iPad. I had previously taught them how to use Piccollage and many of them were able to work independently.
They chose their background, font, and searched on the Web for appropriate pictures. I enjoyed reading their final copies as much as they enjoyed making them.
Next week, we will move onto the life cycles of animals. Once again, children will be researching their animal as well as using the iPad. But that story will be told next week.
Today the sun is shining and the skies are a beautiful pale blue. I am going out now to buy some groceries, pop into the library, and then go to my Zumba class. I look forward to the rest of my day (which will include some time relaxing and reading). May you have a wonderful day too.
During this past week I began re-reading the book written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser titled The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. My first reading was five years ago and I decided to refresh my memory a little on some of the characteristics of using The Daily Five in the classroom.
Reading the introduction reminded me of why I like the Daily Five concept:
“We wanted to change the atmosphere in our classrooms and our own roles, from trying to “manage” students, rushing around the room putting out fires, to creating routines and procedures that fostered independent literacy behaviours that were ingrained to the point of being habits. Our goal was for all students to have internalized these expectations and shared experiences in a way that allowed for every child to become engrossed in their reading and writing.” (p9, Stenhouse Publishers, 2006)
I have fostered independence in my classroom and this year I aim to fine-tune my students’ independence. Hopefully a re-reading of this book will help me do so.
What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments.
As a teacher I spend my days surrounded by the letters and words I have posted on the walls in my classroom. Thought I would share a snapshot with you of what one corner currently looks like:
One of the boards you see will in the photo change this week when I put up the posters I am currently making on animal vocabulary.
It is exciting to see the children point to the words and try to read them during the day – especially when they are working on the activities that I have prepared in order for them to use the French words they are learning.
I am currently reading a book on how to encourage literacy in the elementary classroom. The book, The Daily Five, was written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (also known as the sisters). The sisters write:
“The Daily Five is the largest part of our literacy curriculum each day – it is the structure that allows all children to do meaningful work independently as we (the teachers) work in small groups and with individual children. The first weeks of school are dedicated to launching the Daily Five and instilling literacy habits that allow for independent work with little or no teacher supervision.” (Boushey & Moser, 2006, p.13)
As I am reading through this text, I am taking note of the strategies I can use in my own classroom to encourage my students to become independent readers; and to have a love for reading. I find the content of this book exciting as well as practical. I look forward to implementing the suggestions in my classroom during the next academic year.
What book are you reading this week? Share a teaser in the comments section – or the link to your post if you have written about it.
(This post was inspired by Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays in which you share a few lines from the book you are currently reading.)