I often feel like the days drag on but the weeks seem to fly by. So much seems to have happened in writer’s workshop since my last post including meeting up with the study group, continuing on with our normal day to day writer’s workshop program, moderating writing samples ready to write reports and running training at work. In this post I will write about the study group, moderating our writing samples and the training Danni and I ran at work. I will post about our latest mini lessons in the coming days.
I really enjoy being part of Lisa Burman’s Writing in the Early Years study group. It confirms for me, that Danni, Marcia and I doing a great job. It makes us feel valued and we love sharing our ideas and hearing what is happening in other classes across Adelaide. It is also a fabulous way of connecting with like minded passionate teachers and broadening our professional network. We always leave these sessions on such a high and look forward to getting back into the classroom and trying new things. After the last session, Katie our fabulous facilitator shared with us a youtube video of Matt Glover conferencing with a child called Isabella. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGPr1V8jgiw I loved the way Matt Glover listened to Isabella and then reread the book back to her. We then watched Isabella part two https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YReYm0jx88 and I really loved the way Matt Glover then demonstrated to Isabella how she could read her book with more information adding more detail. This video immediately made me think of a few students in my class who I could be doing this with to extend their oral vocabulary and their story telling skills. We are off to see Matt Glover in a masterclass on Thursday and can’t wait!
It’s that time of year again, report writing time! Marcia, Danni, Bethany and I spent a day last fortnight moderating work samples ready to write reports and allocate grades. A couple of years ago Marcia and I created a spreadsheet that broke down the achievement outcomes of the Australian Curriculum for both Maths and English in year one. We use this on a regular basis to map our kids achievements in each of these areas and as we finish units of learning. Last year, we looked more closely at the English curriculum and mapped out where exactly writer’s workshop fits in. We were initially amazed at how much of the Australian Curriculum we cover by implementing writer’s workshop in our classes and wondered how we were actually covering it all when we were weren’t bookmaking!
At the beginning of the year we kept each of our student’s first books for the year which we put in their profile books. It was timely to pull those out and see the amazing growth when comparing to their current writing.
A couple of weeks ago we had a student free day at school and Danni and I were asked whether we would be keen on sharing our knowledge about writer’s workshop with some of the school’s ancillary staff. We agreed and created a presentation for staff focussing specifically on what writer’s workshop is and what in particular they can do to help us and our students during these lessons. We talked around the purpose of writer’s workshop and the three components lessons are made up of – explicit mini-lessons, writing/ bookmaking time and refection time. We were clear about there being common agreed rules during our bookmaking including students having the right to choose what they write about, adults not being permitted to write in student’s books and students are not allowed to use erasers. We discussed the best way to record conversations or teaching points that ancillary staff may encounter when they are working with students and we also talked about how our student’s strategy cards can be used to help support them in their writing.
I’ve still got lots to share about our latest mini lessons. So will post again soon.
I always knew when I started writing this blog that time would be the biggest obstacle in sharing my practice. So it is really no surprise here I am, almost a month since my last post with lots to share. There will be too much to share in this one post so I will post today and try and post again in the coming days with the rest.
Adding Detail to Pictures
The mini lesson that followed the colouring in mini lesson was about adding detail to pictures. Danni taught this lesson to the students and began by showing the students a lone dog on a page. She then drew the same dog adding more detail to the expression on his face and to the background. The students could see that be adding more detail to our pictures we can see what is happening without even reading the words.
Conferencing was our next mini lesson. We were finding conferencing difficult with the constant interruptions from our students. We thought it was timely that we explicitly discussed what the students thought should and shouldn’t happen during conferencing time. We also brainstormed things the students could do if they finish their book but the teacher is busy conferencing. The students have responded quite well to this mini lesson and we are being interrupted less and less.
Maintaining Consistent Characters
Maintaining consistent characters throughout our bookmaking was proving difficult for some of our students. With some students making books that are hugely disconnected and chop and change from one story to another. We read the students Eric Carle’s “The Very Busy Spider” and discussed as we read how the spider was the main character in the story and even though she changed position or she may of looked a little different from page to page, she was still the same character. We pointed out how some characters in the story only appeared for a short amount of time and that was ok but there always needed to be at least one consistent character.
Author of the Month for March ~ Lynley Dodd
Marcia and I introduced our new author of the month for March by showing the students a picture of the front cover of Hairy Maclary on the whiteboard. Some of the students were excited as they were familiar with this book and some of the students were able to read the author’s name. We explained to the students that like Eric Carle, Lynley Dodd was an author and an illustrator. We asked the students what they noticed about Lynley Dodd herself and then handed out copies of Lynley Dodd’s books to pairs of students to carefully look at. After students had looked at their first book they swapped with another pair. This continued for about 10 minutes before we drew the students back in and brainstormed what the students noticed about Lynley Dodd’s books and her craft of writing. It was exciting to see the students drawing on and using the technical language we have been using in our writer’s workshop lessons, with students noticing Lynley Dodd’s books have blurbs, she uses detail in her pictures and some of the books had the same characters.
That’s all I have for tonight. There is lots more to come in the coming days. Thanks for continuing to check in and read our journey. I hope it is helping and inspiring some of you.
On Monday, Danni and Marcia looked at colouring in with the students. We had been noticing some students were rushing their illustrations and colouring over them with one colour rather than colouring them in with many. Danni demonstrated what good colouring looked like and didn’t look like. She then got the students to brainstorm what they notice about good colouring in.
All the students then practiced colouring in their own picture of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to show how well they could actually colour illustrations. When the students were finished, we shrunk their pictures down on the photocopier and displayed them in our journal.
We began today’s lesson by asking the students what things they have learnt during our writer’s workshop mini lessons this term. As we did this we flipped back through our class journal and found the things they were remembering. We then introduced the sound card we had created. This was created by inserting all of the students pictures from the alphabet freeze we made into a word document. I also added in the first 50 Oxford sight words to try to help and encourage students to spell these familiar words correctly. Marcia began by explaining to the students that we wanted them to have a go by writing the sounds they could hear in a word. For example if you wanted to write the word “volcano” we want you to say the word and write the first sound you can hear… Eg.. “V” then any other sounds you can hear… “vcano”… We then we’re very clear that we didn’t mind if they made mistakes or of things were not spelt correctly, we just wanted them to have a go.
We sent all the students off for 10 minutes of solid writing and we were so excited to see the kids using the charts and sounding and stretching out words to themselves.