Friday, September 22, 2017

In the Classroom: What a Great Idea!


Don’t you just love this photo?

Last spring, Fran Wilson (@mrswilsons2nd), a second grade teacher in Ohio, and her teaching partner Nicole Prater shared eight of my books with their students. The books had a range of text structures and features.

After the class discussed the content of a book, Fran and Nicole asked the children: “What do you notice about the writing craft the author, Melissa Stewart, used in a book?”

In some cases, this led to the class re-reading the book under a document camera. The teachers recorded the students’ observations. For example, in When Rain Falls, they noticed:
--italic type is used to label the habitats,
--the text was written as a journey,
--repetition was used throughout the book. 

When a child spontaneously announced that they could write a book like When Rain Falls, the whole class got excited. Fran seized the opportunity. She invited students to brainstorm new ideas for books with the same structure and writing crafts as the books they had explored. The children had lots of great ideas, including:

When Night Comes
When Spring Comes
When Leaves Fall
When the Sun Comes Up
No Bees, No Flowers
No Squirrels, No Oak Trees
Close Up on Monarchs

Each student chose a topic and began writing. During this process, they viewed the video mini-lessons on my website. According to Fran, this made the children “feel very connected to you and that they themselves were real writers too.”

When the drafts were complete, the children asked to type their manuscripts using google docs.  They decided to add real photos instead of drawing illustrations. This led to teach a lesson on how to search for photos, insert them, and include credit for the source of the photos.  

But the project didn’t stop there.

This weekend the Cincinnati (Ohio) Nature Center will feature the students’ books at their Great Outdoor Weekend event. If you live in the area, you may want to stop by and see their great work.

And if you don’t live nearby, look for the students’ writing samples and learn more about this great project in the “From a Child’s Point of View” column in an upcoming issue of the International Literacy Association’s Dragon Lode journal. You may want to give this project a try at your school.

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