February 17, 2007

Ideas for teaching Ideas in primary grades

Kathy shared the following in my current 6-traits online class. Her ideas about ideas should spark some ideas for all of us! ~ Dennis


"This is one area that I have done a lot of exploring with my classes over the last two years. I agree with Spandel* that writer's need the skill of finding and defining their own topics. If you provide the topic routinely, you will encourage students to depend on you for this.

We are working on learning to "spot the moments or ideas within their experience that are worthy of writing time." I agree that we must tap into their personal experience, expertise, and interests. I think students can learn to become good observers. As I have mentioned before, we make lots of lists and we record them in our writer's notebooks.

One book that I have used the last two years to introduce the concept of personal experiences and using a writer's notebook is I'm In Charge of Celebrations (by Byrd Baylor). This is a book about a woman that celebrates unique and wonderful occurrences in her life as she lives in the desert: seeing a triple rainbow, seeing dust tunnels(?) swirl all around her, a coyote, etc.

After reading the book, I send home a note asking parents to help students make a list of things that they celebrate in their life, other than holidays. Parents list 6 or 7 experiences( holding an alligator, saving two kittens, riding my first roller coaster, loosing my first tooth). This was our first entry into our writer's notebooks under the heading of celebrations.

Then students chose 1 celebration to use as our first piece of writing. We started by making a class list through interactive writing. Then they each wrote individually about the experience. Spandel states that students need modeling and practice in order to learn how to list everyday events and random thoughts in their notebooks. This is why we started with a class writer's notebook. We recorded ideas together on chart paper.

Another point that Spandel makes is that students need to talk to one another before they write - to suggest ideas for writing. I also previously mentioned that we have Lightbulb Lab almost everyday in my class. This is time to write ideas in the writer's notebooks. During this time students can chose to have idea talk time. They can sit with one or two classmates and talk.

I have talk time cards they can use to guide their conversation. For ex. Did anything different or unusual happen last night? or Did you notice anything on your way to school today?

I also have a bin of pictures I pulled from magazines that they can look at to try to come up with ideas.I found two ideas that I would like to try in my classroom. I liked the idea chart "Picturing Writing" on pg. 24. I thought it was a great way to get kids to plan out descriptions and details for their story. I also like the Snapshots idea, "Show, don't tell", in which students turn vague sentences into snapshots by piling on adjectives and creating pictures in the reader's mind. "


*The text we use in the k-4 course is Vick Spandel's Creating Young Writers. If you've read it you know it is extraordinary. If you haven't read it... do!

~ Dennis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I absolutely love these ideas. Most primary teachers use prompts to lead their classroom writing--your ideas help them to see early on that they are writers with creative ideas worth reading. Isn't that what it is all about??? Way to go! Your students are lucky to have you as a teacher.