The students are LOVING writing! I had wondered if they would ask me about the miscellaneous materials we have used in years past to make puppets and other art, but there has been no mention of this at all.
Week Two I read 13 Words, by Lemony Snicket to each class, discussing all thirteen words in advance. Each student was then given a sandwich bag labeled with their name containing the thirteen words from the book on separate slips of cardstock. They were instructed to take the words out and play with them on the table, forming combinations that may not have been used in the book to inspire their own story.
After writing their own story’s title horizontally on papers cut to 1/8 of an 8.5 x 11 sheet, they began writing more or less each sentence on a separate sheet to leave room for illustrations. These will be assembled into a scroll book, taped together in sequence.
In their writing process, if they ask how to spell a word, we write the word for them on another slip of cardstock to add to their word collection.
I am observing that this is a strong activity to encourage reading comprehension and creative thinking:
- As I talked to and looked at the work of one third grader who had done a lot of writing, I saw that her sentences used the vocabulary words, but did not at all tell a story. I am sure she has had to use new words in sentences in class many times, but perhaps has less experience also connecting these new words to what she actually wants to say. My intent is to allow these students to experience language as something that can make the connection between thinking and writing. I will try to work further with her next class to begin to make that connection.
- The work of a first grade student I observed, also busily writing, revealed instantly another issue. As I looked at her work, I saw that she had used some vocabulary words, in some repeated sentences that were not completed. I enthusiastically asked her to read me her story. She right away launched into a detailed story, which was connected to the vocabulary words we had discussed, but had nothing to do with what she had written. I listened, then went to ask her teacher about her. It seems this child, although promoted to second grade, has not yet made a connection in her mind between the spoken and written word. The teacher told me the initial multiple choice test given the children did not reveal this issue – anyone can randomly fill in dots and get a few correct. I would love to be able to work one on one with this child, but I will see what time allows.
Next week, the plan is to finish and assemble the scroll books.