One Sunflower

writing samples

on November 12, 2009

Working with the “yellow journals” has been a challenging but fascinating enterprise.  I was introduced to the journals last year and messed around with them a bit in the spring.  In just those few months of tentative use,  I could see that they were going to be a powerful part of my curriculum.   The kids were excited to draw, more excited than when we put paper in front of them, and it was easy to see what kind of drawing skills they had and what the next steps might be.   My scribblers needed help getting a circle started for a face, those drawing figures needed guidance to attach arms to bodies instead of the heads.  A few students were drawing figures and scribbles to represent action, these kids needed help isolating details to represent the action/event in their story.  

Knowing that I would be using the journals this year created the need to figure out how I was going to use them and be intentional in my teaching points.  Since children’s stories begin with themselves, it seemed the natural starting point should be in drawing people – figures with arms coming out bodies and facial features.  I modeled this in my own picture stories and supported their efforts in their first stories.   Most of my students are beginning their drawings with a person now.  The stories I’ve told to the class have been about the house I lived in as a child, a walk in my neighborhood that ended with my getting lost, my son’s trip to the hospital.  Now I’m seeing the students draw windows, beds, buildings, stairs.

At the end of this month David Matteson will be coming back to our district to work and it will be my turn to be the teacher being video-taped.   I’ve got to figure out what kind of lesson I want to be supported with.  Currently my biggest work has been around establishing journal writing in our routine, creating groups for conferring and beginning to have the students reflect on their work.  It has been challenging to figure all of this out and the success is sporadic.  

Today was a good day.  My story telling flopped because the changes in our routine meant the students weren’t ready for the activity.  But then I pulled out their journals and asked them to look through their pictures and find a story that they liked.  Each one of them found a picture and we looked at it together and I was able to tell whether they remembered their story or not.  I asked them if they wanted to write that story again or do a new one.  All of them said they wanted to do a new one but I found that two of my students retold a story – the story of Maestra’s coconut milk at the picnic.  They really worked hard on their pictures – not needing a lot of encouragement to complete the setting and identify an action. 

There was one student that did a bunch of scribbles around a face and I asked her to begin again with her characters.  She did and we labeled them as her and her sister, that was enough for today.  Another student colored so hard with his markers that the figures got lost.  Hw didn’t want to tell me his story but promptly explained the whole picture to his friend.  A couple of my students have begun copying my modeling of conversation bubbles.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Now that I’ve got smaller writing groups with my aide and I each leading a group, it is a bit easier to plan “next steps” and to see how we can write almost every day.

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