Last time I logged into my blog I had so much to share that I needed to share in two parts. I shared part one and had good intentions of blogging more in the following days… Needless to say the busy-ness of finishing term 1 took over so here we are almost at the end of the holidays writing the next part of our journey.
After introducing our Author of the Month for March – Lynley Dodd, it was natural to talk to the students about her Hairy Maclary books being part of a series. We also took this opportunity to share that a student in Marcia’s class had also begun writing their own series of books using the same characters and these were available to read in Marcia’s room.
One of our students had a Hairy Maclary book of his own at home with a collection of stories that he kindly brought into school to share with our class. We noticed in his “Hairy Maclary Treasury” book there was a contents page. Together we discovered this listed all the stories in the book and what page we needed to turn to, to find them.
As Lynley Dodd uses ellipsis in some of her stories, our next mini lesson talked about ellipsis being 3 dots in a row to show that a sentence is not finished. We discovered that the page needs to be turned to find out what happens next in the story. We have noticed since talking about ellipsis the students are noticing them more in published texts and they are making good attempts at adding them into their own writing.
Our next mini lesson focused on writing goals and strategy cards. The fabulous Danni made these amazing strategy cards (that you can purchase on TeachersPayTeachers here… https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writers-Workshop-Strategy-Cards-2964210 ) that we were giving out as we were conferencing with students. We wanted to make sure we all had the same understanding around them hence the mini lesson. Danni explained during her mini lesson that goals are the things we want to get better at and we set writing goals to help us get better at writing. Danni showed the students Tri’s writing goals and explained that they will all have writing goals strategy cards to help remind them what they need to continue to work on. Danni showed the students that these would be kept on a small ring and more strategy cards would be added as the students needed them. She told the students that these will kept along with their current bookmaking and alphabet sound chart in their writer’s workshop plastic pocket.
The power of three was our next mini lesson. I am slowly continuing to write my book – “The Walking Hotdog” and I completed another couple of pages in this book to show this text feature. I have found the students really love it when you show them that you are a writer too and were excited when I brought my book out. I explained to the students that the power of three is when a word or an image is repeated three times to help emphasise the word. I asked the students to tap their nose when they noticed this in my book. I then read the students the pages in my book I had already completed before the lesson and the students tapped their noses when I got to that part. The next day to recap, Marcia read the book “Banjo and Ruby Red” by Libby Gleeson to further reinforce that the power of three can be shown through both words and pictures.
Our last formal mini lesson for the term was around BIG and BOLD. This was a term we had been using throughout the term anyway but had yet to do a formal lesson around it. We used Aaron Blabey’s “Pig the Pug” as our shared text for this concept and the students were able to explain that authors use big and bold when they want something to stand out or when the character is shouting as Pig does throughout the story.
Throughout the term in between our formal mini lessons we shared stories and recapped on the main points of our mini lessons. We also reread our class journal. This has become the record of our learning and the working document of all of our mini lessons. Some days we would randomly flip it open and ask the students if they could show us the skill that was on that particular page in their own bookmaking. Other days we would go back and read the whole journal. Our class journal is always on display in our classroom and the students are able to access it if they feel the need.
Until next time.
As we expected some (but not all) students have sped through their first book and are on their second and third books. We didn’t really want to give the students too much information surrounding writing, the craft of writing and what authors do until the students were finished or almost finished their first books. We really want their first books to be raw data samples of what they already know.
We decided we would organise our books in the same way our readers are in our school; by colour. We did this last year and it was quite successful. We gave everyone a pink book first. The students will then move on to red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, grey (silver) and gold. For those students who make it all the way through they will just start again at pink. We thought by organising the books this way it gives us a good idea at a quick glance of where the students are up to.
The first mini lesson we taught last week was surrounding front covers and the things that front covers need. We explored different front covers of books and brainstormed what we noticed. This brainstorm then formed the first entry in our class journal.
The other glaringly obvious teaching point for our mini lessons last week was book orientation. We noticed many of our students are writing and illustrating in their books from back to front and many are writing in their books upside down. During this mini lesson I asked the students to show me which way my book should open. (I had my own pink book that someone put around the right way for me.) I then asked the students to remind me what should go on the front cover of my book. They said all the obvious, title, picture, author and illustrator’s name, library letter and publisher’s sticker/ emblem. As the kids were calling out the different features I was quickly adding them on to my pink book. This book was then glued into our class journal for us to refer back to.
I am hoping we will use this class journal to refer back to each mini lesson to help reinforce these messages and add new ideas and learnings surrounding the work of authors and the needs of our students as writers. I will also continue to create this pink book to help with my mini lessons in the coming weeks.
On Thursday we introduced our author of the month for February. We began by showing the students the front covers of a number of Eric Carle’s books and got them to read the titles with us if they could. We had looked at about four or five of them before one of the students noticed that they all had a C on the top right hand corner. Then another student noticed they were all written by Eric Carle. We explained that’s why there was a C on the covers of the books and if they were someone else’s books they would have a different letter at the top corner. For example, I would have a R for Roether and Marcia would have a F for Fraser.
Marcia then pulled up a photo on the interactive whiteboard of Eric Carle and we asked the students what they noticed. This lead to a lot of discussion and questions such as, Where was he born? Where does he live? How old is he? How old was he when he wrote his first book? How old was he when he wrote his last book? We answered some of these questions there and then with the students. We then moved on to reading his book ” ‘Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,’ said the Sloth “.
After that, the students spent a short amount of time working on their own books before having to pack up for P.E.
Later that afternoon, I put an author of the month display up with some of the questions asked. We will add to this as needed.
Today Marcia and I introduced Writer’s Workshop to our students. We began by asking them the following questions.
What is an author?/ What do authors do?
After a lot of discussion we clarified with the students that authors are the writers of books. We introduced the word illustrator also at this stage and asked what this person does. We also made sure we pointed out that some authors are also illustrators.
Do you know any authors?
Our students didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge around the names of authors with only one author mentioned at this point. (Nick Bland) We are hoping to build on their little knowledge by having an author of the month. This month’s author will be Eric Carle and we will begin to unpack his craft of writing tomorrow.
We then posed the question…
What can authors write about?
This created a lot of discussion. We brainstormed first knee to knee with a partner and then as a whole group before splitting into groups of three to brainstorm on large paper all the things authors can write about.
We then regrouped together on the carpet and announced that this year in our classes we will be authors and we will start today. The students were able to select a pink ready made book (small, medium or large) and begin writing or illustrating. We said to the students that today they could write about what ever they wanted. Before they started we then pointed out though that authors are not allowed to copy books that have already been made. For example, you can’t write a story exactly the same about “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” because that’s Eric Carle’s story. We explained that you can borrow ideas from authors through and if they really liked that idea they could write a story about “The Very Hungry… something else.
The student’s were then able to go off and write and draw for 15 minutes.
After this time we regrouped on the carpet and two students were selected to share what they had done during Writer’s Workshop today. After share time we asked the students to file their work in progress books into their Writer’s Workshop pockets in their drawers ready to work on tomorrow.