Friday, January 30, 2009

For Whom the Bell Tinkles

As the children have been revising and editing their small moment stories this week, it seems like the volume level in the room has been rising. A lot is excitement over their stories, but there is also some off-topic chatter and unasked-for advice escalating the noise level. So I pulled out a small brass bell that a student gave me years ago and gently rang it in the middle of Workshop. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me. "Writers," I said calmly, "I am happy that you are so excited about your work, but the noise level is making it hard for some of your fellow writers to concentrate." Several students nodded their heads at this. I explained that I had used the bell because I did not want to raise my voice to add to the noise, so I used the bell to get their attention. Then I went on to request that we remember how quiet the room gets when everyone is busy with their writing and that we work to find that quiet, busy space again. They all went back to work and I noticed that most used whispers when they needed to confer with their writing partners. Quiet was restored, at least for the time being.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


We have been reading over our Small Moment stories with our writing partners and working to finish them up. Today we had a mini-lesson about revision, and students worked to read through and revise their stories. Some added in more words to make their stories clearer. Others added in details. Some added to their pictures to enhance their stories. Soon we will be having another celebration to wrap up our Small Moment unit!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inspiring Authors

In Writing Workshop we often look at children's authors for inspiration and ideas for our own writing. Last week during Sky Class storytime we watched an interview with Mo Willems, a classroom favorite especially for his Piggie and Elephant books. The students enjoyed watching him talk about things such as his first book, how he gets started on books and develops characters (he draws them first, as we often do,) and how the Pigeon character just has to be in all of his books. The students continue to enjoy reading his books and one is even taking on writing a Piggie and Elephant book, as Mo Willems suggested they do in his interview. You can see the interview at by playing "Mo History."