One Sunflower

I’m in the work

on October 11, 2010

Last year was my first full year of using journals and a key question in new learning that stuck with me was:  Where are you in the work? It wasn’t until the end of the year that I really grasped the meaning and impact of “being in my student’s work.”  Being in the work means I am modeling and providing supports in my students’ drawing that will push and guide them into new learning.  This work consisted of  drawing models for students to copy, doing some hand-over-hand guidance in writing and drawing, adding labels to pictures, and drawing details that would help them remember their stories.  Therefore, this year, I made a concerted effort right away to begin with these techniques and be very visible in student journals.

It has been incredible to witness the difference in my student writing.  When I pull a student aside to review journal work and create a new story, the students are able to recall their previous story because they can identify the supports we put in there together.  Then, as a team, we work to create a new story and I am always seeking that edge of “gradual release.”

This first picture was created by a student who wanted to draw a picture of her dad.  She wasn’t sure about a story so I let her draw her dad.  Then she added the house.  I asked her what her dad was doing outside in the yard.  She said he was washing the house so I drew the hose and we added the water together.

This next story was created by a student who had a very clear idea of her story because it is play that she enjoys doing with her friends every day.  But she wasn’t sure how to create the memorable detail.  I drew in the calendar and began labeling the picture.  She pointed to the shoes of the figure and wanted to be sure that I wrote that they were “polka-dotted.”

This next writer came up with her story but wanted help drawing a bicycle.  I was pretty sure she had the confidence to create a bicycle if I gave her a model so I drew one on the teacher’s side of the journal.

This picture was drawn by a student who receives speech services and has difficulty communicating her ideas.  I understood that she wanted to draw herself with butterfly wings.  As she drew her self-portrait, and I helped her add the butterfly wings, it dawned on me that this might be a Halloween costume so I asked about that.  When she said yes, I told her I would put a jack-o-lantern in the picture so she would remember that she was drawing her Halloween costume.

Maestra has been working with some our youngest students.  The goal for these students is to practice drawing figures and to spend time in conversation, getting the children to talk about their families, events and items that are important to them, their likes and dislikes.  We will use this information to build stories later in subsequent work.  I’ve told Maestra that these students are ready for her to include some setting details or emotions on the faces with words about why they feel that way.

I’m feeling a lot more confident this year that my students will reach the benchmarks of including a figure and setting or emotional detail in their writing by Christmas.


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