Slice of Life: First Grade Notebooks

March 25, 2010

A first grade teacher, Mrs. F, and I have been collaborating this year in writing.  Independence is not a natural attribute for first  graders.  sols2You have to guide and model and gradually release time for the little guys to be independent.  Using the timer, Mrs. F would set a goal with the class on how much time they could write in a quiet workshop setting.  They began with 3 minutes, then 4, and now the kids will beg for 30 minutes to write.  Mrs. F will receive several “ahhhh, I’m not finished” when writer’s workshop is coming to a close.

Sustaining the independence is our challenge at hand.  The children seem to be able to write when they have a topic in mind, one that they love and are interested in.  Lately, the children seem to have writer’s block and finding topics to write about has been a frequent topic.

We decided to try some type of writer’s notebook for first grader.  We copied lined paper, front and back, and placed 20 sheets in a 3 pronged folder.  Then, modeling our ideas, we showed them how to capture their ideas.  We made a page for family, pets, places we like to go, activities we like to do, friends, and things we wonder about.  I modeled how on each page, I had listed some words with some ideas behind each.

Our goal is to help the children have a place to keep their ideas.  Mrs. F has some kids that are very inquisitive and daily are showing her what they are reading about.  They will write, or sketch,  their thoughts on sticky notes.  Some of the students chose to have some pages to put their sticky notes.  We are finding that the children are gathering their ideas.  Now, they are first graders.  These notebooks are not like a fourth graders, but it’s a start.  We want them to see that they can gather ideas throughout the day and have a place to hold them.

I appreciate the fact that Mrs. F wanted to try something different, to help lift their writing at this time of year.  We are experimenting and at least for now, the excitement in the class has lifted.  It’s like a breath of fresh air.