Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Illustrations that Enhance Our Writing

Our latest Unit of Study has been focused on the question: What smart illustration decisions do author/illustrators make in their books? This study was inspired by Katie Wood Ray’s latest book, In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study. The children have been wonderful at looking at books and noticing the smart things being done in the illustrations to communicate information, feelings, character, storyline, mood, point of view, passage of time, and more. I have recorded a lot of their “noticings” on a chart. We are also using the chart to note when one of us tries something we’ve seen in the books. We keep the books we are using for the study in a basket where students can refer to them as needed. After Thanksgiving break, students will be asked to choose books they have written to publish. Each choice should be a book that can go into the basket with our study books, because of interesting illustration choices.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Celebrating Our Writing Work

We have wrapped up our Unit of Study on Where do writers get ideas? Each student chose one of the books he/she had been working on to publish. The students read over their choices carefully, checking to be sure they had not left out any words and that Word Wall words had the Word Wall spelling. Then each read the book to a classmate to be sure it was "reader friendly." Last week we had a celebration. Each student showed the published book and either read a selection or told about it. Each also told where he/she got the idea for the book and why he/she wrote it. We “toasted” our efforts with apple slices to finish up our celebration.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just Right Books

I most often use this blog to write about our work in Writing Workshop. We also do a lot of reading work in our group. Just as in Writing Workshop, I do mini-lessons that focus on different aspects of reading. One of the first lessons I do is on choosing “Just Right” books, the kinds of books that will help the students’ development as readers the most. A Just Right book is one in which a student is interested. It is also a book that the student can read almost all of easily, figuring out the few words that he/she does not already know. And it is one that the student can understand. It doesn’t leave the child wondering what it was about.

This doesn’t mean that it isn’t helpful at times for children to read, and re-read, and easy book. Easy books support the child’s ability to read smoothly and with expression. Re-reading also allows a child to notice details that may have been missed the first time through. And, of course, children will often be attracted to hard books, especially if the topic is one that is compelling or of particular interest. Those are great books to read with a parent, teacher, or partner to help.