Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writer's Workshop: Trusting the parachute

This week we launched Unit 2 of writer's workshop which centers around narrative texts.  We also started making books.  Yesterday I was thinking that whoever wrote Unit 2 was an idiot! I mean Unit 1 went so smoothly...why on earth would I want to change a perfectly comfortable process in favor of making books?   Thus my title... Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?  It was not broken... why fix it?

Making books is messy business.  I start to hyperventilate when I can no longer dictate the minutia of writers workshop.   It makes me want to breath into a bag.   But you know what?  It is not about me.   It is really about moving the students forward.

I won't go into the benefits of student's making books versus a page a day. We did that in great detail this summer with our book study. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

Here is one page I came across today during a writing conference. This was from one of my sweet babies who had trouble holding the pencil at the beginning of the year.  He could not write his name.  At first glance, you would think this writing lacks meaning.
However, when I sat down to confer with him, this is what I found out.


I LOVE his dad's expression!!!



Wow!   This little guy worked on this for 3 days.   He sustained his focus over time.  He knows that a book's subject is connected in meaning. He also knows that books contain words made up of letters. Since he has no letter/sound knowledge,  I was thrilled that he wrote a string of letters.

Confession:   We outlined the conferring note book in Unit 2, but I started it around week 2 of school.
Here is what mine looks like.
I added names to the tabs

I have my conferring schedule on the inside cover

Deanna and I are working hard on Unit 3 which will focus on informational (procedural) texts. 

If you are following along with our Writing Through the Year units, we would love to hear how it is going for you!





31 comments:

  1. This is so sweet! Aren't children incredible? Thanks to incredible teachers!

    Shanyn
    Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists

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    1. I know... I loved how focused he was! So, so sweet!

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  2. I just love it! And I love your unit. I taught the story hand today! :)

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  3. i am so loving unit 1-i started a little later so i'm just on day 11 but since this is my first year doing writer's workshop i'm taking it a little slower but THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THESE AWESOME UNITS! they have helped me so much as i was completely clueless at where to begin!love you and deanna-you are both such inspirations to me.:)

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    1. I am so glad! I hope you will continue to feel supported as your continue on with the units. They are rigorous!

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  4. I am LOVING it!!!! I have struggled with teaching writing for years and now feel like I am actually teaching it well! :)
    Thanks so much! Can't wait to get Unit Two!

    Kelly
    Beg, Borrow, Steal

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  5. Wow, I love it! That little one will love this book because he wrote it and obviously loves his dad and working with him!

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher
    and
    Endless Pinabilities!

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  6. Your writing units are phenomenal! I finally feel like I have an effective gameplan for writing!I so, so appreciate all of you and Deanna's hard work. THANK YOU! :)

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  7. I am really interested in buy your units. However, I do not know where to start. My district is wanting us to use Lucy Calkins (would your units correlate to this, if you know), so we have started drawing a picture, labeling the picture, writing about our picture. We have somewhat of a routine going, however, I still am not feeling 100% with it. My question is should I purchase your unit 2, we will be talking about small moments soon. Or would you suggest go back to unit 1? I want to build confident writers and work on a better game plan for my writing time. Help! LOL

    Jennifer

    griffiths0528@gmail.com

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    1. I honestly feel that I NEVER feel 100% with writing. I am constantly reflecting what is happening with my instruction and my students' learning. I would say that you will probably find that our units complement the Lucy Calkin's units. They are both grounded in the workshop format however, I do not have her units of study books. I think you could skip to unit 2 with covers the narrative units.

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  8. Deedee, these are too precious not to share! Thank you for reminding us that even though our lil friends might be fine motor challenged, they are still trying to share a story with us. Just because it may look like a jumbled picture of spaghetti, in their lil minds they are sharing an entire novel with us! Thanks for the reminder and for sharing!

    ~Christy & Tammy
    Fluttering Through First Grade

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  9. I love Writer's Workshop...I just started it this week (5th week of school I know! aagh! I feel so behind!) but my kiddos are really YOUNG this year and I have been pulling my brains just to get them to not keep hitting/touching each other (any tips?) They are already loving this time though. It takes us about 40-50 minutes (!)...they really get into it and won't stop talking to each other about what they are writing! lol. They really are just drawing the picture and then writing random letters (like 50) Is this normal?

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    1. Yes! I think you will have to set the tone for them. You will have to reinforce that writer's need some quiet to get their thoughts down. Then put on quiet music (instrumental only). That will clue them into quiet down. You may want to say from time to time. "I love how Allie is writing so quietly. Thank you for being respectful to your classmates." You can also bribe them a little... reward those who are doing well. I have my quiet ones move their names up on the behavior chart... works like a charm. Yes, the first week will feel CrAzY! But stick with it. Fake it until they make it!

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    2. Thanks! I will definitely try all of the above. Today they kept asking me when we were going to do Writer's Workshop..too cute! Can't wait to see all that you come up with--thanks a bunch! This stuff rocks! :)

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    4. Ha! I just wrote something back to you my friend and then I realized it did not make any sense... I will catch up with you later.

      But I am glad your kiddos are enjoying writing!!

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  10. I completed the first unit and the kids absolutely loved it. They have made alot of progress.
    I started Unit 2 yesterday and also thought "What in the world?" lol
    But the kids are excited about making their books, so I am also trusting the process.
    Shelli Grissom

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    1. Shelli... It is hard because it is messy... but you are write, we have to trust the process. Will you follow up with how things are going next week? I would love to hear. You can comment here or email me.

      owens65066@gmail.com

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  11. I just purchased your Unit 1 and am excited to begin! I think it is just what I have been looking for! Is there anything else that you have your students keep in their writing folders other than ABC chart and portable word walls? Also wondering how many of these writing units you ladies are planning to create? Thanks!

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    1. Other than that month's writing, the ABC chart and portable word walls are it.

      We plan on making 9 (4 week) units. Unit 2 is focused on Narratives. Unit 3 is on procedural texts.

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  12. I've been using unit one as a supplement to Lucy Caulkin's Launching, and I really appreciated how the lessons are all laid out for you. We are starting small moments next week and it looks like your unit 2 will correlate nicely.
    Thanks for all the hard work girls!

    Rachelle
    http://sweetkindergarten.blogspot.com

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  13. Wow!! I need to get started. Kinders can really surprise us...that's why I love them so. I hope it is not too late. I purchased Unit 1, but confess I haven't looked at it too closely. It all looks so good, I've wanted to get started for awhile. I need to make that a priority this weekend....you know getting my ducks in a row, then getting them moving in the right direction.

    I am struggling with getting my time to work for me. I have my kiddos for 2 1/2 uninterrupted hours 11:20-1:40 (yes they leave for lunch at 10:40...recess first). I know I should be loving that large block of time, but I can't seem to make things flow. It feels like too much of the same type of activity or too jerky, jumpy, and scattered, or I let them take too long and end up having to skip something. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

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    1. I love your honesty! I think a lot of people may be experiencing the same thing. Here is something that might help. Set a timer! If I find I am letting on activity spill over into another time slot, I set a timer. I have also found this helps with behavior issues. Student tend to work more expeditiously when they know they have a limited amount of time. AND you little stinkers won't have as much down time.

      Let me know how that works for you :)

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  14. I would love to hear more about how you conduct writing conferences...this is the area where I struggle SO much! Any tips/suggestions?

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    1. I schedule two conferences a day + 1 meet with one of my struggling writers. Lately, I have been having them come to my table to do their writing. They love this and it keeps me focused.

      I think everyone struggles with conferring. It is a challenge and it is easy to get stuck in the muck of it all.

      I hope you will find the information in unit 2 helpful. We have outlined conferences in it.

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  15. Hi!
    I am kinda a newbie in the kinder world. Even though you wrote this post a while ago, I was hoping for a bit of advice. I am struggling to help me students get where they need to be. And with only a couple months left before they have to be first graders, I might be panicking. I have a relatively low/young group who mostly did not go to preschool. So teaching them how to hold the pencil and write letters when they hear their sounds has been an overall struggle. My school is using Lucy but I found your workshops a little more conducive for me to read and understand. But for the last couple of months, I have felt the pressure to follow Lucy. So I tried to switch back. Yikes! If I am confused, of course the kiddos are too.
    My kids struggle to utilize sight words, realizing a group of letters make words, and still struggle with letter sounds.
    I just really need some advice, especially for this time of year.
    THANK SO MUCH for your time and all you do to help other teachers!
    Jayme

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