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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sensory Details

Today we began talking about how to add details to our writing. We are starting with sensory detail, something with which they are familiar. This video was a great tool to get a conversation going. It suggested writing in your notebook about what you were noticing in the video clips. We did shared writing instead and ended up noticing that our phrases looked like a poem. Then began the challenge to write a poem about each sense. EXCITEMENT was brewing! We had such a great time. The kids sat for forty minutes as we watched a minute of video, talked and then wrote a poem together. "FORTY MINUTES" you say? Yes, it normally would be way too long, but we were on a roll.
I love my class. Their stamina for learning is fantastic. What a fun lesson and a fun time together. 

Students then went to their writing from yesterday to see if they could add sensory details to make their writing more interesting. Many of them did just that! I use the word amazed a lot as a teacher but I find myself in this position often. I am AMAZED to see them take on learning and utilize it so quickly. I can't wait for tomorrow when we chart what we learned and share our details peer to peer. FUN!

Chalk-A-Bration is coming up soon, September 30th.
I hope you will join in and share your chalk poetry. 
Click here for more information. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Internal Debate


I am finding myself questioning a few things this year because I am in a new grade level. As some of you know, I looped with my kindergarten students this year and am teaching first grade. For the first time! I feel a little bit like a first year teacher.

So, the debate begins. In kindergarten writing workshop we focus a lot on drawing and talking at the beginning of the year. I am finding my students have easily gotten back into the swing of this routine. It has been a great process to observe. I am also finding that they are spending a great deal of time drawing their picture instead of getting their words on the page.

I am such an advocate of planning and taking time to do this with drawing and talking. However, I am feeling this need to put a bit of a limit on the planning if it goes much past fifteen minutes. If I thought it was successful for everyone I might feel differently, but their results are not necessarily their best work.

Before Workshop Today

I am planning on setting a timer today for students to pause in the planning process after fifteen minutes to try and write their thoughts. I want to see if they are able to do this, therefore not necessarily needing all the drawing as plan time. The illustrations could be enhanced after the writing. I hope to update as the workshop begins and ends today!

After Workshop Today

Well, I am happier with the results of pushing the writing over the planning. I set the timer for fifteen minutes explaining this was their plan time. Several students used the entire fifteen minutes. I only required five minutes of writing, but most wrote for longer than five minutes. Many students were able to transition easily.  They just needed the push and the structure.  A sizeable handful chose to write  a small moment as well. This was exciting to me as we have been talking about small moments in writing and stories for a over a week now.
We continued our writing workshop for forty minutes and the students seemed to more easily pace themselves. I hope to only need the timer for a short time until they more independently regulate their planning vs. writing time. Overall, a successful day in workshop.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And It Blooms...

Happy sigh. That is my feeling after the first six days of school. When I looked back at my first days of school post from last year, I am relieved to be in the position I am today.

Here is that short and sweet set of words from so long ago:

September 4, 2012
Today came and I conquered.

Which basically means:
I survived.
I got everyone home.

I am still awake and it is after 8:00 p.m. 
I am asking, "How will I do this?"
I am answering, "Any way possible."

Onward to tomorrow.

Today, on September 10, 2013 I am in a different place. All of the above still exist. I got everyone home. I conquered the day and I survived. I also am smiling...BIG! I have looped with my kindergarten students to first grade. A class that is not just perhaps the most challenging group of students I have taught, but most definitely is the most challenging group of students I have had in my short twelve year career. As I enter year thirteen I am inspired by my students and their ability to jump right back in to the workshop. I look around and it is as if we never left. I see and smell victory as I watch students use their playtime to write. I hear the silence of the writer in my classroom and I beam. I feel their love and their hearts beat as they walk through their ideas and land on their feet. 
We are landing, we are growing and we are loving it!