Friday, October 11, 2013

Blogging in 1B- A New Approach to Shared Writing

 1B has been doing some very purposeful blogging during our nonfiction unit of study. We have been practicing elements of nonfiction using our 1B Blog to inform our readers and teach them about life in our community. We began with a morning sign in –“Please sign in with a food you eat at school. Draw and label." This was then turned into a list, which we did as a shared writing on our blog. The post was drafted and published on the Smartboard with all of the steps that a blogger follows. Seeing the process before their eyes and then publishing was powerful. The need for a heading was obvious-it stood alone and informed the reader what this entry was about in a very obvious way. Our next entry was a captioned picture of 1B at the park. The blog provided a box for caption -  what could be better. As we continue studying nonfiction elements, we will reach out to the larger world of readers with entries, which show a diagram of our classroom, questions and answers about the 1B day, how to do learning on the rug and mini bios of our Ugly Dolls. Blogging has put a new, very exciting twist on shared writing.

Need ideas for Writer's Workshop? Just ask the kids.

We launched our first literacy unit with the grand idea of making a connection from our study of family to our Nonfiction writing. It seemed like a great idea to kill two birds with one stone- we could combine the information we were gathering about 1B families with their own writing. After all, they ARE experts on their own families. We modeled making lists about family members, activities they do with family, foods they eat, places they go, and sent them on their way. However, even though they were proficient in the Nonfiction features we had drilled into their heads (captions, lists, headings, bold words, etc.), they immediately ran into road blocks, and Writer's Workshop was painful to get through. It felt WAY too teacher directed and lacked the spark that is present when students are writing about meaningful, self-selected topics.

Break down time. After our literacy meeting, we brainstormed with Bonnie about ways we could revamp our study. Together we realized that it didn't matter WHAT they were writing about, as long as they were practicing the Nonfiction writing process: recognizing what you already know (your schema), what questions you still have, gathering data (either from books or peers), and interpreting it.

We came back as a group of writers and looked at our Morning Message sign-ins to compile the topics they care about. At this point, the room began buzzing with excitement, as students shared ideas about their passions. We made a list of possible topics, and each child chose 2 or 3 ideas that they wanted to write about. They are going to be working in small groups to record their schema, ask questions, do research, and draft their work.

We'll keep you posted on the outcome, but we definitely walked away from our writing period today feeling more comfortable with our very child-centered approach.

An example of topic choosing.

(A little side note from Bonnie...) Yay! I must say that it was so exciting to have that conversation and see teachers going from uninspired about the work happening in the room to totally excited and then to walk into the room and see how the changes they made were working with the students. In the end, the beauty is that although it might have felt like it wasn't going to be about "Family," it still totally is. For example, Chess comes from a list of "Games My Family Plays." Part of the research can be to learn about other games that families play, friends who play the same game, and some facts about the game. I'm excited to see how the students now go on to collect data about their topics from their peers and other sources and to see how the published piece comes together.