Children often have a favorite topic to write about. They return to the topic and use the same genre in sharing their information. For example, if a child loves his dog, he often will write a story, a narrative. This writing practice is a great start.
One way to broaden children’s understanding of genres is to present books on the same topic with different formats. You can compare and contrast different books on the same topic. Dinosaurs. Trucks. Bears. Show them how this information can be shared out through a narrative, informational text, poetic nonfiction, poetry, all about, etc.
Three books I found recently lend themselves to this kind of study.
Circular/ Bookends – begins with a bug that looks small on a big leaf but is a small leaf to a big tree, and continues (begins with the topic of bugs but is only one part of the book versus the other books are all about bugs)
SOLSC has been a wonderful experience of learning with others. My notebook is filled with entry ideas gained from you and noted stories I want to remember. I have encouraged new slicers, formed connections, and strengthened ones I’ve known before.
My belief in myself as a writer has increased! I have taken risks in playing with words and have been pleasantly surprised with people’s comments. Thank you. My writing is developing and revising is becoming more of a delight rather than a challenge. It has been fun commenting, encouraging as I have been encouraged. Reading, commenting, and growing with you has been a joy!
As evidence of my growth, I played with words this morning, relaxing in the moment as I tried to do what was modeled for me. You see, your posts are modeled craft for me to savor, learn, and try. Today, I would like to honor Elsie at Elsie Tries Writingand the way her post yesterday inspired me to try something new. Elsie “squeezed a poem from a single word“, so I tried it with the word ‘Reflections’ on this last day of the SOLSC. Blessings to you all as you learn, connect, and grow as writers. Slice on!
I’ll let you in on a secret: I actually like numbers more than writing. Yep.
(At least I did as a kid.) I am good at math. I can add numbers quickly in my head and reason problems. Numbers come naturally. So, you may ask, how did you start writing? Good question.
I didn’t like writing as a kid. I definitely didn’t think of myself as a writer. I struggled with spelling, vocabulary, and reading. Three essentials for writing (and I was in the buzzard’s reading group.) So how did I evolve into a writer?
I am an only child (almost) and my cousins, grandma lived 600 miles away. I didn’t have email or a cell phone. Back in my day, phone calls cost enormous amounts for long distance, so I turned to the next best thing: letters.
I wrote 3,4,5 letters a week. Not just one pagers either. (I usually averaged 3 to 5.) To someone close, 7 pages was no problem. It was my voice, my release. My cousins and friends returned letters, but never as long as mine. I didn’t care. My thoughts were out and I was connected.
Now I have to grab my notebook and pen, my computer and blog. I have a passion to empower and to connect. I have thoughts to capture and moments to savor. I have a story to tell.
I. Am. A. Writer.
Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. — Isacc Asimov
Isn’t that what we do? We write and think and write and think. And then we think some more. I guess it is one reason why I like to use paper and pen. I can jot my thoughts and think, leaving the open page nearby as I go about my chores. On Sunday, my youngest did something that made me chuckle. I didn’t want to lose the memory, so I grabbed a pen from my purse and began writing on our bulletin. I was trying to capture the essence of the moment as quickly as I could.
Other times, like now, I stop and think. Palm under my chin, I reread and talk to myself. The computer awaits my tapping fingers to mold the words my audience will understand. With every tap, my fingers grasp my thinking.
As the great writing group that we are, we sat on the sofas (yes, the Slices from the Sofa sofa) and listened to Tam share her delightful revised story of Neville.
Tam reading Neville to BONS.
Beginning with a wonderful prologue, Tam began:
“Have you ever seen or met a mouse? Can you imagine being friends with a mouse?” My mind begins wrapping around this adorable creature when I hear Ruth (Ayres)
“A mouse? Tam, I didn’t know you were writing horror.” You see, Ruth hates rodents. Because she loves the writing process, she has been generously learning to like Neville, to hear his story.
We laughed (okay, we belly laugh from the depths of our toes).
“Okay, I’ll be quiet, but I may have nightmares tonight.”
You see, the beauty of the BONS is that we listen, we laugh, we linger. Our little snippets of story, whether a hopeful-someday-I’ll-write-a-book to the possible posts we will share to the book that has a deadline – they all matter. Each person’s writing matters. We matter.
And that my friend, is why we BONS get together each month, no matter what.
(At this moment I am rereading this post, we have interrupted our thinking with a comment that has spurred laughter. You see the laughter is the best. It fuels our writing.)
This morning, I woke up early. Not on purpose; it’s just been happening (somehow, I think my brain knows I need some extra time to write). I wake up and begin thinking. I rolled out of bed and headed downstairs thinking, What to wear? It’s Friday. Good; it’s jeans day. I have a lot of working projects to do today. What will be comfortable? Got it: my favorite shirt.
I love wearing my brown, cafe’ cotton-knit shirt. It has different coffee motifs on it and fits perfectly. Three-quarter sleeves makes it the in-between shirt. The kind that’s not as hot as a sweater but warmer than short sleeves.
Coffee was brewing already (I love my programmable coffee pot!) and I grabbed a cup. Heading to my spot on the couch, I grabbed my notebook (strategically placed last night with pen inside) and began to think about my shirt. I wonder if I could write about a shirt? Ruth posted about finding the story in the ordinary things. Yes, shirts have stories. My shirt has a story.
And with that, I began to wonder how to explain how much my shirt means to me, describing the design, special occasions when I have worn it….
Then it happened. The story sparked.
I grabbed my notebook and began to write and write, and think, and write some more. Tears welled up in my eyes (that I was not expecting) as memories poured out. Emotions swelled. The shirt wasn’t much within this story; it was the link to the story.
Noticing the time, I had to get going with my morning routine. But I had the story. The story that will simmer in my notebook until I have more time to craft as a slice. The story that is powerful and meaningful and worth it.
The AllWrite!!! Consortium here in northern Indiana provides its members with ongoing professional development.
Today I was again blessed to learn from my writing mentor, Carl Anderson. Our school was the host site for the AllWrite!!! study group for grades 2 and 3. Watching Carl confer with each child, I was reminded of the privilege we have talking with our students. We teach each student individually, nurture their growth, and celebrate their risk taking.
Carl shared a lesson on revision with third graders. He compared revision to bedhead. He explained that all children revise in their lives. In the mornings when they look in the mirror, what do they see? Bedhead. Their hair is sticking up all over. What do they do? They comb it; they change the hair.
Writing is like bedhead. It’s messy in places and you have to do something to make it more presentable for your audience.
Punctuation skills are a necessity. the marks create voice and emotion. Punctuation Celebration brings some fun into your teaching. Twelve marks are introduced with a poetic definition and a frolic poem. Examples of the punctuation usage are shared. Each one can be a mentor text for your kids. Jenny Whitehead integrates the punctuation mark throughout her illustrations.
A class book idea: Using Magazines, have your students find examples of the punctuation in advertisements and articles. Create charts or books with the cut-out strips. What a great way for children to learn how punctuation is used.
A brief one minute YouTube video highlights the author and her working area.
Savoring for reading and in writing for Punctuation Celebration:
Thanks to my dear friend, Ruth Ayres of TwoWritingTeachers, writing has become a necessity again. We have shared ideas over many miles of traveling together to meetings. Reflection has been so helpful. I can process with a friend who shares the same beliefs and extend my thinking just by talking. So many times as Ruth would be talking or I would be sharing, a ‘awe haw’ moment would happen.
Now, thanks to my other dear friends: Tammy, Tam, and Ruth, my writing is being spurred on. I have an accountability with encouragement. Even when time elapses between posting, my writing group gives me energy and support to keep going – through the tough spots. I’m the hardest on myself, so it’s great to receive feedback within my trusted group.
It’s a snowy morning again and my first thought was “I have to write.” I need to get another book posted and finish my letter. I’m glad for these mornings with extra time to think and write. But more so, I’m glad for my writing group. I can hear their cheers and questions, and laughs and comments.
I remember learning the rules a kid. I did well, because I was good at rote learning. But I remember how grammar concepts just didn’t make sense. As I think back, I guess it didn’t make sense, because I wasn’t applying the skills to my writing. In fact, I remember doing skill sheets, but I don’t remember actual writing until it came to learning term papers. I also remember diagramming sentences. I thought it was neat how the lines would sprout off. I didn’t quite remember how it helped me write better. Oh, I do think I understood adjectives and adverbs, but the direct object? Who cared?
Now, I have to teach grammar skills to students. I want the concepts to make sense to them. I want them to have a purpose in learning about the parts of speech, and to apply it in their own writing.
I came across a series of books called If You Were an (name the part of speech). I’m featuring If You Were an Adverb today. It makes sense. The visual illustrations demonstrate the word usage, making the rule clearer. Each two page layout explains a rule or clue to go along with the part of speech. For example, the ‘ly’ is the “tail” on an adverb: perfectly, speedily.
The font accentuates the adverb to show the reader the part of speech. The illustrator uses a different size, style, and color for the adverb. This helps the reader to recognize the part of speech and its usage in a sentence. As a teacher, you can read each section and ask the students to try it in their writing. You could use it to create classroom charts. The books are a great way to teach the skill that will then be reinforced, as Jeff Anderson shows in Everyday Editing.
As a connection, the author added a classroom activity at the end. he encourages the students to role play the adverb. Very creative way to help the kinesthetic learner understand the concept of the adverb.
Included is website sources to go to for further learning opportunities. The website is www.facthound.com, but you need the special codes to link you to the other related activities.