Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"I don't know what to write...oh wait...I do!"

Today was a day that made me excited to be a teacher. My student teacher is control of everything now, from plans to grading, so I have been able to be the observer of how my kids are comprehending the information we are trying to teach them. I have also been able to take some pictures of them in action which I rarely remember to to do.

Right now we are working on visualization in reading. We have presented it as making "movies" in your brain as you read. Not only is it the picture, but it is also hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting. Today we used the book A Night in the Country to help students with this skill. We read the whole book, without showing students the pictures. Then we passed out typed out passages from the book to the students. Students were instructed to be the illustrators, and draw what they visualized after they read the passage.
Here is what we saw:

After students were finished drawing, we grouped them together with others that had their same passage to compare their visualizations. They loved seeing how different they were:

We then showed them the actual picture that was in the book. They were especially excited when they included any small detail that was in the "real" picture.

That really got the creative juices flowing for later on the day for Writing Workshop. Students are working on their "memoirs" or personal narratives. They like calling it "memoir" though, and make a very grand arm sweep saying it. We have been using a lot of Patricia Polocco books to help us know what a memoir looks like and give us ideas for our own stories. For the past week, students have been brainstorming ideas...which is hard to do as a fourth grader. They haven't experienced much yet, and it is hard to remember what they have experience, or see it as important to write about. 

Many have latched onto an idea, but we hear "but where do I start?" There fore we presented the Heart Line. Some call this "Bed to Bed" story. My student teacher led this fabulously. She modeled how she took her idea for her story (going skydiving) and write down on a timeline every detail she remembered from the day and wrote it down:

We then showed how you pick out what your "most important" detail is..."what is the heart of your story?" Students put a heart around this detail, and then decided where they wanted to start and end around that "heart". We also reviewed that section and marked out any unneeded details, and added details we forgot. Students loved that they could write down everything they could remember without worrying about writing complete sentences. They made their timelines quickly and picked out their hearts in a "heartbeat"  :) What was hard was choosing where they wanted to start and end. One student even said, "I didn't even realize that I had that many details!" 

Some immediately wanted to get to writing after they had found their heart. Even my most reluctant writers produced a I took a picture :)

What a fabulous day!


  1. Love this idea...the "heart" of the story, too cute!

  2. I love the "heart line" idea.
    We are doing this tomorrow!

    Thanks for the idea,
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  3. I had never thought of doing it that way. Thanks for sharing!