Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mentor Text Series: Week of January 8

Though I have been away from writing for awhile, I haven't stopped thinking about what works for kids as learners. In fact, this fall, I began collecting my thoughts about how primary classrooms can begin to embed and embrace digital reading and writing for primary learners. Tony Keefer and I shared some of our thinking at NCTE and I am excited to dig deeper in January with some amazing leaders and thinkers in the tech and workshop arena. Beginning the week of Jan.8th, I will be blogging alongside:

Bill Bass at Mr. Bass Online
Troy Hicks at Digital Writing, Digital Teaching
Kevin Hodgson at Kevin's Meandering Mind
Tony Keefer at Atychiphobia and
Franki Sibberson at A Year of Reading

We are excited to initiate conversations around mentor texts in the digital writing workshop. We hope you will join us by reading, commenting and sharing your thinking. We are all smarter together. Looking forward to learning with all of you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


A friend of mine noticed that I haven't blogged since August. With the move to a new home over the summer and fall, I have to tell you it was hard to keep up. Blogging has taken a back seat to keeping up with organizing a new home space, taking care of my family and my students. I didn't realize how much I have missed it until my husband and I began talking about the changes that our family has undergone in the last 6 months. We reflected on the pros and cons of our life. My biggest complaint was the time I have lost writing and thinking with others through blogging. So, I am excited but a little anxious (hoping I can keep up with my personal goals for writing 3x a month) about coming back to writing, reading and learning with you.

I thought today, I would share some of the beautiful representations of tradition made by my first graders this year. After reading books like Every Friday, The Relatives Came, My Forever Dress and The Hat that Clara B. Wore my students were able to think about what tradition means in the character's lives as well as in their own lives. We had much discussion about tradition and
I invited students (and their parents) to post pictures of their family traditions in a google presentation doc.
This google doc allowed me to introduce students to a new tool for technology, allowed students to collaborate and witness a document being built over time and also allowed them to easily share and explain their traditions visually to one another using our projector.

After sharing and talking about our traditions, I asked students to think of a (picture) symbol that would represent a tradition that was meaningful to them. For example, Surabhi created a traditional Indian dress to represent her tradition of dressing up on special occasions, Jason choose a tray of cookies to represent his tradition of making cookies for Santa, and Tiya chose a diya (clay lamp filled with oil) to represent lighting lamps on Diwali. All of their symbols uniquely representing the special tradition celebrated with their family.

I modeled how to sketch and plan their symbol on paper and then introduced them to embossing on heavy gauge foil (an idea I grabbed from Family Fun magazine) with wooden pencil like rods. The students later colored their embossed symbols in with colored sharpies and then wrapped them up as a gift for their family.

I think you might agree that their creations were amazing. My class this year has embraced opportunities for showing what they know by drawing, building and creating. I have found myself looking for new ways to meet their needs as writers, readers, mathematicians and scientists where they can use their ideas and their hands to create. It is challenging me to build new traditions for the students in my classroom.