Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Teaching Second-Grade Writers by Lucy Calkins April 8, 2009

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The entire title of this little gem is Reading Writing Project Workshop Help Desk: A Quick Guide to Teaching Second-Grade Writers with Units of Study by Lucy Calkins and is available from Heinemann. I picked it up when I was at TC in March and I can’t find it on the website yet, but if you are a second grade teacher, literacy coach, staff developer, or curriculum director I highly recommend picking it up as soon as you can. This 76 page pocket-sized professional development resource ($8.00) would be great to add to your Primary Units of Study set. Even if you aren’t using UOS, I still think this would be a valuable resource.  Something I love in the first chapter is the proposed overview of the year (also known as a shared curricular calendar). Each chapter then goes on to explore each month’s unit of study more closely. It has some great recommendations for modifying the UOS if your first grade and kindergarten teachers are also using UOS.

The second grade study group of writing workshop is going to start reading this as soon as we can get additional copies. All are game for trying their proposed calendar. With the research and thinking that is behind all TC Reading and Writing Project work, I don’t know how their calendar can do anything but help us work together to get even better.

I think it’s an exciting time to be a teacher of writing and reading. What a gift this little book is!

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Intermediate Age Students- Read Aloud Books January 2, 2009

I had a very productive and fun day with my friend and literacy guru, Carol.  We started at our favorite Cover to Cover to peruse new books and ended up having a working lunch to talk about writing workshop in the primary grades.  

ctc_exterior_3_2005While at Cover to Cover, Carol and I were able to fulfill one of my school year goals of having a short list of common read-alouds for each grade level at the intermediate school. We have both read a lot over the years and also had the expert staff at Cover to Cover to help us. We aimed to have two “classic/Newbery*” for each grade level and two “newer” read alouds. We also tried to take into account gender, ethnicity, etc.  

Here is what we came up with:

4th Grade:ctc_interior132

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli   *

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson *

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford (review)

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look (review) (I think Moxy Maxwell  and Alvin Ho really complement each other)

Hate That Cat/Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (review) (You can’t have one without the other!)

5th:

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck *

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant *

Along Came a Spider by James Preller

Science Fair by Dave Barry 

6th:

One-Eyed Cat by Norma Fox *

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis *

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (review)

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

 

I’m going to try to tackle Along Came a Spider by the middle of next week when I give them to the different grade levels.  That way I will have read each grade level’s “classics/Newbery” and at least one of the newer titles. Science Fair and The Girl Who Could Fly will be put at the top of the To Be Read pile.

Yeah! Happy Reading for all our students and teachers.

Thank you Carol! I hope to post a link to your new blog before the end of the month! 

 

First Grade Authors November 7, 2008

Click to play 1st Grade Blog Post

I had the privilege of accompanying a group of first-grade teachers to visit another another elementary school’s Writing Workshop. Below I’ve pasted the information I got from my friend, and literacy guru, Carol, about what to expect during the visit. Carol is a retired educator from the district we went to visit.

The teachers are all experienced teachers and have worked as a team for seveal years. Their writing workshop is based on the work of Lucy Calkins and influenced by the work done at the Manhattan New School in New York City which the three teachers visited a couple of years ago.

Each writing session begins with a mini-lesson, which is followed by a student writing time, and then concludes with sharing/author’s chair. The teachers have been going through student writing folders at this time to decide what to teach and reteach before progress reports go home next week. The lessons you see on Thursday will probably come from this review of folders. Lessons the teachers and students have worked on this year include: “special moments”/personal narrative writing; content components (main idea, details and descriptive words); making sure each student’s writing has clear meaning; and the idea of ‘how do I know this piece is done’ or ‘when I am done, I have really just begun’.
They have also focued on spelling high frequency words correctly, capitals, and punctuation.

We will divide you into groups of two and you will rotate through each of the three classrooms. At the conclusion of the writing workshop time, the students have recess and the teachers will have time to talk with you and answer any questions. They are also happy to share their email addresses so you could contact them if you have further questions.

If you have time, we could stop for a quick lunch and talk about what you saw in the classrooms, any questions you have, and what ideas you might take back and try in your own setting.