Archive for the 'Writer’s Workshop' Category

Mar 02 2011

Poets a Plenty

Published by under Writer's Workshop

We have wrapped up our poetry unit with the students each responsible for completing a poetry anthology. Check out the individual student blogs for a few of their specially selected poems they’d like to share with you!

As one of our strategies for gathering ideas for poetry writing, we went outside, found a spot to sit or walk quietly around and wrote down anything that popped into our minds.  Some of us sat under trees, while others sat on bleachers and just let the sights and sounds speak for themselves and inspire.

We took our ideas and each of us turned them into a poem. Next, our poems were used to create a piece of art inspired by our poem. We used techniques from Barbara Reid, a well-known Canadian author/illustrator who uses plasticine (modeling clay) to create her illustrations! I’ve included a link to her website which has videos showing you exactly how she works her magic! Click here to visit now.

Check out the photos below of our finished plasticine artwork and us at work!

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Feb 28 2011

Jack Gantos Visit

Published by under Writer's Workshop

Zap, Zap, Zap! Running around his house naked, putting a cockroach into his sleeping sister’s mouth…these are just some of the childhood stories author Jack Gantos deliciously told to us at our assembly this morning.

If you’ve never heard of Jack Gantos, you may be familiar with some of his books such as the Rotten Ralph series, Joey Pigza series or the Jack Henry series.

He not only is an award-winning author, but also a hilarious speaker! The audience laughed out loud with Mr. Gantos’ descriptive, animated stories.

But best of all, Mr. Gantos was teaching us about how we can be the best writers we can be. He brought along his journals from when he was an elementary student. He definitely loved to write! What really resonated with me and what was nice to hear Mr. Gantos talk about was that most of his ideas for his writing comes from himself and his life experiences! We are currently writing Realistic Fiction stories and this was a fantastic reminder of how we can use our own life’s stories to create good pieces of writing. Sometimes the best writing comes from not much farther than our own backyard.

He told us that sometimes it is daunting and scary getting your journal for the first time because there are all those blank pages staring at you! One strategy Jack Gantos uses is to draw a map of your house and the surrounding area. I’ve included a picture below of the map Mr. Gantos used in his presentation. He said to add lots of details to it…the more the better! So many stories can emerge from this map strategy.

He also spoke heavily about the writing process and the structure of our writing.He said there were 7 parts to every story…here they are below:

1. Characters

2. Setting

3. Problems/Situation

4. Action/Plot

5. Crisis

6. Resolution/Solve the Problem

7. Physical and Emotional Ending

I really liked how he mentioned several times that there were 2 parts to an ending…the physical ending and then (often the part that is missing in student writing)…the EMOTIONAL ENDING.

Finally, the drafting phase was mentioned several times. Mr. Gantos said that he sometimes does 30-40 drafts of a story!! (We sometimes complain when we have to do 2!).  We have a lot to learn from Jack Gantos and I know I took away a lot from seeing him today.

Check out the pictures below from the assembly. I’ll try to snap a few more of him signing our books!

We love Jack!

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Jan 24 2011

Coloring Outside the Lines with Poetry

Writing Workshop is one place you’re allowed to break the rules…at least in terms of writing poetry. Free verse poetry, that is. After the holiday break, we have been immersed in our Poetry unit and have recently been studying interesting images and what kind of words they evoke from us. Students were encouraged to bring in an interesting image that caught their eye and begin to jot down creative words that came to mind when they saw it. We are learning that we don’t need to make a poem right away, but rather, we create an entry that we can manipulate and turn into a poem perhaps at a later time.
Sometimes we need to simmer our initial ideas and see what we can create with more thought and time.

We are not conforming to structure, such as in Haiku or Diamante poems. Rather, this year, we are learning to write free verse poetry where there are no rules! We are trying to do things such as looking at the world through ‘fresh eyes’, and it’s not easy! Letting our minds study an object or image or thought and write about it in unique ways takes a lot of practice. Studying mentor poems is very helpful, too. We are a few weeks in, but already we are able to compile a long list of strategies that poets use such as meaningful line breaks, alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, simile, personification, and so on.

I have been blown away by some of the creativity and vivid imagery Room 230 has come up with. I can’t wait for more. Stay tuned to individual student blogs where students will be posting some of their poems they would like to share with you.

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Oct 14 2010

Freed At Last

For Monday, I’d like you to write a blog post about the miners that were rescued yesterday from the mine.

Reflect on this question:

Do you think it’s important that the world celebrate their rescue, even though these miners are people we do not know?

Miss B.

6 responses so far

Oct 11 2010

Paragraph This!

Hi Everyone!  Miss B here.

We’re talkin’ paragraphs these days. We’ve been writing narratives and sometimes get stuck when it comes to why we paragraph and where do the paragraphs go?

I found this great site that captures what I want to share with you about paragraphs. It lists all the reasons why you would want to start a new paragraph and then explains each one with more detail.

I strongly encourage you to click here and check it out!

What do YOU struggle with the most when it comes to paragraphing?

18 responses so far

Oct 07 2010

Writing Workshop Strategy: Timeline It!

Published by under Writer's Workshop

Today we learned how to use a timeline in 2 different ways when writing a personal narrative:
  1. To help you elaborate a part of your narrative that needs it–this could be ANYWHERE within your narrative
  2. Early on in the drafting process, after you have selected your entry, the time line will help you list, step by step, the points you want to be sure to include in your narrative.

As a class, we selected a recent ‘small moment’ event that we all shared. We decided on our 3 minutes of dancing that we did following a rather long period of mandatory school testing.  We learned that it is important to replay the event in our minds in a step by step way to help relive the moment and remember all the important parts.  If we realize we’ve forgotten a step, we can always go back and add it in our timeline.  No problemo!  :)

Check out Miss B’s personal example of an entry she made about her very first time tow-surfing (that means being pulled behind a motor boat while standing on a surfboard). She shared this with the class and showed how she revised her first paragraph after realizing she was missing some important details.

Just so you all know what I mean by tow-surfing, here is my Canadian friend Matt doing exactly that.

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Sep 17 2010

The Write Stuff!

Published by under Writer's Workshop

It’s celebration time!

Our first published personal narratives (say that 5 times fast!) are ready for your wonderful comments. They are published on each students’ own individual blog.  Where can you find these student blogs? Click on a student name on the right hand side of this blog. Just scroll down until you see names.

I am so proud of the level of care and engagement with this first writing assignment. But, just as my friend Lucy says, “Just when you think you’re done, you’ve just begun.”  This is so true!  We will continue to raise the quality of our narrative writing with your feedback and by learning more from mentor authors and mini-lessons.

One of the ways we can improve is to give others the chance to give us helpful, constructive feedback.  So bloggers, please leave a comment on some of those narratives. We’ve jump-started this process by having the students look closely at 2-3 of their own classmates’ work.  We called this a ‘Gallery Walk’ where the students were partnered with 2-3 other classmates and had to write ‘two stars and a wish’ for that students’ writing.  A ‘star’ is considered something that person particularly liked about the piece, something they noted as done well.  A ‘wish’ is a piece of constructive criticism–how can that student improve for next time?

Check out the photos below of this ‘Gallery Walk’ in action. Thanks to Ms.McAloon for the idea! Click on an individual photo for a larger view.

Thanks in advance for commenting!

Miss B. and the Gr.5s of Room 230

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