Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Monday, January 3, 2011

After reading Chapter One. Day by Day.

Yesterday evening I read Chapter one of 'Day by Day' and found it really useful.  I am good with routines for my class but picked up a few tips.  So I plan to:
Give my class the three guidelines from Ch 1.  1) Become a strong writer.  2) Be respectful.  3) Come ready to learn. I will get them to discuss in pairs and then back to the larger group.  We'll come up with a fleshed out list that they have decided.

I think setting deadlines for work to be complete is important to... will need to think that through. I need to set deadlines and so do the students!
Boundaries - setting them and adherring to them will be important too.  So where they work, how they converse, how they move about need to be covered.

One point I really liked was that the students take time before they leave the class lesson to plan how they are going to spend the writing time.  At least 3 ideas.  It makes them focus. Definitely going to try that one.

The sharing time too is important.  I will begin with getting them to share with partners. Sometimes with the whole group.  Eventually there will be published work that will be more formally shared.  At this point when we share with whole class I will get the combined group to come up with a compliment and a connection and something that has inspired another class member.  Later when we get to peer conferencing I can move that on.

At first I was not into the celebration part of sharing the published writing, however I might try something at the end of our first term, (10 weeks).  Low key, but I think the students might appreciate it.

Anyone would think I never taught writing before. I remember back in the '70's and '80's process writing was the thing!  But somehow it never worked. So many students wrote rubbish!  However I can see there is the possibility with the right routines, boundaries and input from the teacher, this way of approaching writing can be very motivating and successful.

Most schools in America seem to run writing workshop.  I am not sure if New Zealand schools do? Or do all American schools do it?  Maybe not.

The Writers Notebook was a mystery to me.  Since reading this chapter I have done a little exploring on the web, see sites below, and along with Chapter one of this book, I am growing in understanding.  Up until now I have had a draft exercise book.  We would publish on paper or on student blogs.  Now I think I will have a writer's notebook, I'll use one of their exercise books for this.  I think we will split it into five sections:

an artifacts section - photos, bits and pieces etc.
a craft section - where they can try out things they are learning about, revising a sentence or paragraph, various leads for a piece of work, etc.
an observation section - for questions, memories, feelings, reactions, concerns, comments, lists, drawings,
a mentor/model section -here they can place leads, endings, sentences, words ...from authors that they read.  They can then use these to craft their own, modelled on the authors.  I think I will have a vocabulary part to this, where they gather words, that they then endeavour to include somewhere in their own writing.
assigned tasks by teacher, plus own tasks -  I envision this as something where after the mini lesson they may have some task or practice to do.  Or they may have a few paragraphs of something of their own.

Or thinking the next day, perhaps it would be better to have these five types of entries all following on page after page. Artifacts in the back.

At the front of this notebook will be a sheet glued into the inside cover that will list expectations for this notebook.  I like the idea of rotating various students notebooks for sighting by the teacher.  So I will see five a day.  25 students = five days!  Oh what bliss, only 25 this year - I hope!

I will keep to what we have always done and have a draft exercise book.  We will keep that for drafting.  I will set up spots for them to drop their writers' notebooks into, and draft as well. Two for that, one for the first conference and one for the polish conference when they are publishing.

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