Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm on SPRING BREAK...finally!

I changed school systems this year. For the past 20 years, my spring break was always the week before or after Easter. This year, it is now - a full week beyond what was a late Easter. So I am feeling ready. I do think that as a teacher, you get used to pushing through, knowing a break is in site. Sadly, my first day of break,, yesterday, I awoke at 5:30am and went to Starbucks with my computer and spent 5 hours completing the 3rd Advisory report card comments. They are due the Monday we return from break and I was determined to enjoy my break and not spend it doing school work. So now comments are done! Grades are inputted into the online computer program! The week back is planned with time to edit our memoirs and a Publishing Party on that first Friday back. And then plans to teach Poetry! So, yes, on this Sunday, I AM feeling like I am FINALLY on Spring Break.

Looking back on the week, I LOVE teaching memoir!! I am using the 5th grade Shaping Texts book in Lucy's new Units of Study for Teaching Writing. On the resource disk is a great 3-column checklist showing the skills for narrative, essay and memoir. I personally used the memoir checklist to figure out how to write my memoir.
I read the under STRUCTURE how the lead should go and then wrote my lead. I then looked under DEVELOPMENT and read how my evidence of my idea can be a micro-story. Then I wrote my micro-story. Then I looked under STRUCTURE to see how the conclusion could go and wrote my conclusion. And I showed my students in a mini-lesson each day how I did these 3 steps and then they got busy typing with their checklist nearby.

When I attended the TCRWP Saturday Reunion, I heard Shana Frazin give a a workshop and modeled a revision inquiry lesson. So I channeled her on Thursday and led my class through the lesson just as she did during the workshop. (Click HERE and scroll to #4 to read about Shana's workshop) My kids gave responses just as expected. At the beginning, revision was generally described - "fixing it up", "making the story better" . At the end, they were specific - "adding reasons, dialogue", "adding inner thinking, slower pace, description, dialogue, actions and reasons". I loved how, through inquiry, we defined revision and then got busy revising!

We had started this unit by reading and annotating memoirs. That got me thinking that now we have written a memoir - why not annotate it?! So I had the early finishers on Friday begin to tape their memoir to colored construction paper and use markers to annotate it. They enjoyed this colorful step and I plan to hang them in the hall for others to see.

Their memoirs are really brilliant! These 5th graders, who have been in writing workshop since Kindergarten really are amazing writers. And then really can look back on their long life of 11 years and notice a pattern and a lesson learned. And they can write strong micro-stories as evidence of their big idea. So fun! I decided on Friday that I will compile these stories into a class book and spend the time to make the xerox copies. The kids will enjoy getting this as a gift. I am not sure if I can get the copies made for the Friday Publishing Party but I am going to do it. They deserve to be a part of a book of memoirs!

A final lesson I shared related to the TITLE. I am familiar with the webiste - 6 Word Memoir
I suggested that the students think about a title and push themselves to say it in 6 words, maybe try on a few titles and pick one. Here's Rachel doing this...which title do you like best?!

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