Monday, February 21, 2011

What have you been reading and writing?

It has been awhile since I have had time to breathe and more importantly, blog. February is a great month but always busy with quite a few family b-days, snow days and our annual Dublin Lit Conference. I have to admit that I get a little down because of the cold weather here in Ohio that often lingers through March. To help myself stay out of the dumps, I decided to join Franki's e-reader challenge and have a good book to look forward to as well as think about the pros and cons of reading digitally. I have Across the Universe on my iPad and I am LOVING IT. Today I just joined the e book club on good reads.

To keep upbeat in the classroom, my students and I have been studying authors as mentors this month and I choose someone this year that I love: Bob Shea. I was a little leary of picking a picture book author who has mainly published fiction because I think fiction is hard to teach young kids to write but I let go of those fears knowing my purpose for this study was for kids to really look at Bob's craft as a writer. I was happily surprised as my kids noticed so many interesting crafts like repetitive language that we also studied in our pattern book study at the beginning of the year and new observations like how Bob uses different colors for different character talk in Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime. Thinking about the decisions Bob makes in his books and naming these has helped my own students think purposefully about the decisions they are making in their own stories. I showed my students Bob Shea as he shares who and why he wrote Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime in this youtube video. This video had many kids thinking about why they were writing their stories and who they were writing them for.

During the last days of the study, we studied Race You to Bed for the purposes of thinking about (what I call "wow" words) precise language or words that help he reader experience the story and the writer share exactly what he feels. My students and I have been talking all year about how we learn new words in conversations, listening to stories, reading together and reading on our own. We have a nice list of words that we have caught during these times throughout the year (like when Ava helped us think about the word blended as she shared a story about how her dog Buckeye blended into the darkness of her bedroom). We also have words that students have tried in their own writing that have "wowed" us. Long story short, after kids noticed words like zip, splash and how sometimes words like "scratch an itchy rash to bed" really work together to make us feel the story, I invited kids to try writing "wow" words in their own pieces. Just noticing words helped their own awareness and begin to understand how they can strengthen their writing.

Now that it is the end of the month, I am honestly, still feeling too busy and unsettled. But, I have a book to look forward to along with satisfaction and peace that blogging brings to me when I can. I miss writing and sharing when I can't. I think that is a good thing.


Cathy said...

Thanks, once again, for sharing your thinking. My class has loved Bob Shea. I'm so glad you led me to his work.

debf said...

Katie~ Thanks for sharing! My class is also looking at writers craft, it amazes me what they notice and how quickly the enthusiasm spreads when a friend "trys-it". Thinking about adopting your chart format too-very visual and I like the way kids can see one author uses a variety of strategies!

Mary Lee said...

I can tell it's been a long LOOOOOOOOoooooonggggg time since I've read blogs...when did you revamp your look? I like it. Clean and simple.

Magazineline said...

Hi Katie,
I'm not a teacher but I love aiding in my niece and nephew's learning experience -- although it's not a book, I would recommend National Geographic Kids for a free reading time. They both really enjoy it. You can get a discounted rate at -- a nice little company out of Michigan. I attached a link to Kids mags in my identity.


I hope you enjoyed the Dublin Lit Conf!

Lisa said...

I love the way you guide your students to read like writers! You are one amazing teacher! Thanks for sharing, Katie!