Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Place for Wonder by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough

I am home for spring break and enjoying being home BUT I feel like I haven't stopped working (it is my own fault because I have a hard time sitting still when I know there are things that need to be done).  I've cleaned out cupboards, disinfected the bathrooms, hosted play dates for my kids and have tried to write and read a bit daily.  I really don't know how to rest. But, how can I when blessed with the opportunity to be coached by Samantha Bennett in four weeks.  I am trying to do quite a bit of thinking and planning for my own classroom and her visit.  On my very short list of what to read I have A Place of Wonder.  So I  decided to order a copy of A Place of Wonder:  Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades as I plan a wonder unit of my own. It has been just what I needed. 

The book provides three main sections for teachers who might be considering non-fiction writing and wondering in the classroom.  There is: Creating a Wonder World, Non-Fiction Writing from the Heart and Non Fiction Research Wonder Writing.  In each of these three sections, you can read short vignettes and mini lessons that explain ways to create wonder in the classroom.   I have found practical ideas for inviting wonder like reading and trying One Small Square by Donald Silver, a book and investigation that invites kids to look closely at the world around them with the use of a small square.

I love that A Place of Wonder takes the idea of a discovery table (which I have had over the years but didn't do a lot with) and builds on how we can show children how to have conversations that naturally lead to children writing about their wonders.  I  also love that this book embraces what all learners deserve in the classroom: time for conversation, thinking, asking questions, kids leading learning with their findings, creating with mentor texts and sharing with each other.

Chapter 3 authentically addresses how to engage kids in research where their ideas and (change of ideas) are validated.  They describe mini lessons for how readers/writers ask questions and make inferences using non-fiction, explore non-fiction beginnings when ready to write their own piece, explore features of non-fiction, layer and elaborate and many more.      

I have placed many books on reserve at the library after reading through the resource section and using this book to build my own wonder unit.  One of the pieces I will be using to invite my kids into photographing their wonders is a short film called 14 things i love that I first found on A Year of Reading at this post.

I do have some down time planed for Thursday...a facial and some shopping. Funny thing is, for me, blogging is downtime too.    


Jenny said...

I've read the first two parts of this book and will probably finish it tomorrow. I'm spending a lot of time rethinking the layout of my classroom and my schedule for next year in order to incorporate a lot of these ideas.

We've got about 30 preK-2 teachers reading A Place for Wonder this summer and meeting a few times to talk about it. I can't wait!

Mary Lee said...

My cupboards and bathrooms are jealous of yours...

How can it be THURSDAY already! There's so much I still want to get done!!!

Julie said...

I, too, loved this book. It's been amazing to watch my students grow as researchers this year. I like how you've incorporated technology! Can't wait to hear more.

Poker Web said...

This day, as if on purpose

Loralee said...

I am using this book in my classroom right now...I googled it and it brought me to you! ;0)

I love it!