Response to Reading January 26, 2010

As I was reading this week’s information, a couple of things really became clear. First of all I thought back to when I was teaching first grade. I would try to go through the writer’s workshop cycle that was given to us. I even tried building up lists for the students to use while writing, but it never failed. I would say, “What are you going to write about today?” The students would then respond with, “Uh, I don’t know.”  Then my brilliant idea of writing for the day would go down the drain. This happened a lot. The truth is, I never became comfortable with the process.

While I read the article written by Donald Graves, I was enlightened and recharged with a newer outlook. He said, “Until we begin to help our children connect with themselves, the choices they make will be based on quick decisions.” Which reminds me why the Writer’s notebook is so important, It helps the students become connected to why it is important to write and pretty soon it is just automatic.

I started to take a further look at how the writing process might look in my classroom. I thought about the mini-lessons I might teach to my Kindergarteners. I would definitely have to make the mini-lessons an important part of the process.  I think I would assess the needs of where the students are in the writing process. As I mentioned, I have some that are writing and some that are barely beginning, so I would certainly have to do a lot of modeling. My independent writing time might have to be more guided and less time at first. I think 15 to 20 minutes. I would want to provide a lot of support to my students in beginning.

As I just wrote about the process I am feeling a little apprehensive. In the past I have mostly given the prompts to my students to write about. I think in the business of the day, it was just easier to give a prompt. I became really used to it too. As I refer back to the article by Graves, he reminds me that choice is meaningless unless we show our students how to do it. So I am starting to get the point! I need to just let go and try it! If my students see me writing, then they will follow after me. If I am writing WITH my students, then it brings on a whole different atmosphere. Once again the words of Donald Graves echoed in me, “A teacher who shows what she is trying to learn through writing isn’t afraid to ask children what they are trying to learn through their own writing.”

After being enlightened and feeling like this was something I am going to do in my class, I read the HOT Blogging article by Lisa Zawilnski. A whole new aspect was coming into play for me. Since online communication has become essential to reading comprehension (Zawlinski, 2009), I need to start thinking of ways to incorporate this 21st Century skill into the reading and writing process. I thought I could put to test the idea that Graves so eloquently wrote about and start writing and communicating to parents through a classroom blog. I could include a section where parents and their children start to respond to a prompt together, while I am working in the classroom on the writer’s notebook.


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Post 1 for January 20, 2010

I want to talk about my thoughts on the writer’s notebook and how I am thinking about using it for my classroom. Before we get started with all of that, I need to say this idea is not new to me. I have kept a personal journal since I was six years old. I remember it was a pink journal with a little lock on it. I remember my first entry still to this day. I was playing baseball outside with my friends. I was up to bat, the ball missed the bat and hit my nose. I had a huge bloody nose after that and really do not like to play baseball so much anymore. What I have loved about journal writing is that I have never forgotten details of special times or how I felt on certain days when I was 13, because I have it all recorded. Journals are my personal history. I believe I have 45 volumes from my life time. So, this idea of keeping a writer’s notebook has completely agreed with me! I like recording my thoughts, favorite quotes and ideas on a regular basis in one place. It has been an easy transition for me! I certainly see the benefits of my Kindergarteners writing in their own Writer’s Notebook

Elliott talks about how writer’s notebooks help students “start collecting seeds by reording bits and pieces of their own life”. I believe this is an important ideas because my Kindergartener’s need to be able to start somewhere. I think it will be a great way for them to get introduced to the concept of writing. I like what Fletcher has to say about how it gives students a ” place to react to their world, to make that all-important personal connection. Since some of my Kindergartener’s are barely writing and some of them have just started, having a writer’s notebook will provide them with the opportunity to start exploring. They can start with finding things from the environment to write down and move to sentences and ideas as they develop as writer’s. It seems like a safe place to explore and get to know more about themselves as writer’s. It would be nice for them to form these habits early and become interested in writing at a young age.

I think the only way to launch the notebook is to actually just do it! I will probably do a class writer’s notebook to. This type of shared writing will give them examples of what can be done. Plus we do a lot of shared writing in the first place. It only seems natural for the class to have a notebook too. I can model what goes in the notebook as well as show them mine.

I had not thought about making a dictionary for Kindergarteners. I might include sight words, words of interest to them as well as theme base words we are working on. The actually notebook would just be the notebook itself. So I think I need to look further into the organization of the notebook.

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