A ridiculous smile
That runs a mile
Human like features that speak
She sleeps when I’m awake
And misses me when I’m asleep
She feels the stuff that I feel
Her actions seek attention
Is there anything I failed to mention?
Oh how I love my cat!
~ Maria Grujicic ~
I wrote this poem as part of modeled writing that I started in my class. Without a plan I spontaneously wrote thoughts and feelings on the board about my holidays. As I was writing I noticed that my students were silent. I was absorbed by my writing and forgot about what they might have thought. I looked up to see some very interested and focused faces. They were simple notes and lists of words under headings “Think, feel, wonder”.
To my surprise they started telling my story using the notes and elaborating on them! “There is no right or wrong,” I heard another student say. “Yes,” I said. “I could write about anything on my notes, and in fact I don’t have to use everything.” They then started to enthusiastically share their own experiences and off they went to write notes about their holidays!
Another lesson I started writing a story based on one section of my notes that I liked. Again the class was silent and then I paused and said, does anyone have any ideas for what to write next? All the children enthusiastically raised their hands to help. It was then when I realised that they were reading along my writing. In fact didn’t have to say anything. because they were doing much more than reading. They were looking at me erase and cross out ideas I didn’t like, replace certain words with others, and they were thinking about what I was writing and relating it to themselves!
I bought a special notebook for my students and started teaching a writers strategy called “Writer’s Notebook“. It’s something that I do on my own but I never really knew how to teach it to kids. So you could imagine my delight after going on this workshop and learning about it. It’s enjoyable for me because I love to write, but more so that it teaches teacher’s how to project this love for writing onto children.
Here’s one book title I’m using: Notebook Know How Strategies for the Writer’s Notebook By Aimee Buckner.
Every day students are eager to continue writing in their notebooks. The best thing about this is that it’s process orientated -there is no end, and so one cannot say they are finished. Ever. And this business of finishing is not significant and relieves the pressure that traditional teaching gives to children. They hold the novel in one hand and their pencil in the other, and once they have a thought, feeling or an idea they place them under a heading “Think, Feel, Wonder”. I also pause at parts and write on the board to model the process.
As part of our unit we are reading Komiko And The Dragon and Komiko and The Dragon’s Secret. But of course we are doing much more than reading. In fact during our silent reading a few students asked if they could write in their notebooks instead. They stated, “In this way we are reading and writing” My hope is that once we finish the 2 novels, students will choose their own novels that they love and do the process of responding to what they read on their own.
So far we have written lists of our favourite quotes and referring to them, lists of words and finding synonyms in the dictionary, identifying similes, answering student initiated questions and using our imagination to place ourselves in the story. We also spoke about how the author describes setting as a way to develop the plot. Next week I’d like to go into how the author was inspired to write the novel. We are up to the last chapter and it has been only the first week.
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. Elmore Leonard
- Scrivener Writer’s Notebook File (everythingscrivener.wordpress.com)
- Writing Notebooks (4 Freebies too!) (teacherlingo.com)
- Writer’s Notebook Homework Assignment (sfxschoolnews.typepad.com)
- Philip Hensher: Why handwriting matters (guardian.co.uk)
- Writer’s Notebook: An Idea Gold Mine (saratoolemiller.wordpress.com)
- Notes on where ideas come from – 1 (brainsplats.wordpress.com)
- How do you write your thoughts out? (buildingrelations.wordpress.com)
- A Writer’s Notebook: notes from a reading (snoekbrown.com)
- Writing about writing (english305fall12.wordpress.com)
- What does a Writer Write? (my3space.wordpress.com)