Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Persuasive Writing Is Alive and Well


For the past two weeks, our class as been learning about and practicing "how to write persuasively." Books such as "Click, Clack, Moo - Cows That Type" was the one of the first books read on this topic. Other books, such as, "I Wanna Iguana" and "With Love, The Little Red Hen" are other books that help children understand this genre of writing. Parents have sent in stationary, stamps, notepads, and envelopes to help kick off this unit on writing letters. A sheet was sent home for parents to write names and addresses of family members or other people that the students would like to write to. Lessons on how to address and where to put the stamp on an envelope were taught. Moreover, lessons on how to write about something that students feel the need to change and persuade others with their reasons to change something is the bigger idea. One student wrote about changing the food in the cafeteria to more chicken. Another student wanted a dog and wrote to his parents about how he will take care of it. And another wrote to the President and asked that no more trees get cut down so the animals will have a place to live. When the children get the chance to write, it is amazing to see how much they really know and want to fix.

Today, each child was given a "Tiny Topics Notepad." During our Writer's Workshop lesson, we traveled the school, inside and out, and wrote notes to ourselves about things we noticed needed to be changed. The students noticed books on the hallway floor, the lost and found that was hidden, the litter on the back playground, and the primary playground didn't have enough grass. All these notes were taken while walking through the school. Tomorrow, students will have the chance to write about one or two of these topics and try to persuade our principal to fix some of these concerns remembering to give good reasons why she should do so. To find out more about this unit, visit, timmonstimes.blogspot.com and you will find some great resources to use at school and at home. Parents, look for your letter to be coming in the mail real soon...don't be surprised if you are persuaded to do something you weren't really planning on...WARNING...start saving for that new pool!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kevin Henkes Puppet Show -- Live

We hope you enjoy this Kevin Henkes' Puppet Show debut -- The students shared their retellings with the class and this is a sampling of them. We hope you enjoy it!

Mallard Puppet Theater from Cheryl Dillard on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Mystery Reader Reads Gruffalo!


The students were quite surprised today as we were celebrating our second "Mystery Reader." At the stroke of ten, an announcement came over the P.A. system that our "Mystery Reader" has arrived. While she was walking slowly toward the classroom, five clues were given to the class (which were written earlier) and the students made guesses as to who they thought it could be. Clues such as: "I walk my kids to school everyday" and "I enjoy working in the classroom" were given. Well, it wasn't two clues into it when "D" lit up and said that it's his mom! Well our Mystery Reader was his mom and Mrs. G. came in with a wonderful book called, "Gruffalo". Also with her was her daughter "A" who was a former student. "A" worked the puppets as her mom read the book. The book was about a mouse who is taking a stroll through the deep, dark woods when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat but smart enough to know this, he invents . . . the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, "The gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, and knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of its nose. But Mouse has no worry to show. After all, there’s no such thing as a gruffalo. . ." . The student's enjoyed our Mystery Reader's wonderful reading of this book and you know "D" was as happy as could be to have his mom and sister enjoy some time in his classroom. Thank you so much Mrs. G. - Mystery Reader extraordinaire!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Celebrating the Kevin Henkes Unit of Study


"Lilly loved school." Today was a very special day in First Grade. We celebrated Kevin Henkes and the wonderful books we read during our Author Study. Students came to school dressed as their favorite characters. We had Lilly's, Wendell's, Owen's, Wemberly, and a Sheila Rae. During the morning, children went to centers set up in first grade classrooms. They visited the "Light Bulb Lab" to make purple purses and neck ties. They played "Kevin Henkes Jeopardy," where students could answer questions about the books they read. There was a movie staring Owen, Chrysanthemum, and Lilly, and cheesy snacks were served. And they had outside time and played croquet, bubbles, jump ropes, and other fun games. In the afternoon, students made mouse cookies and wrote about their favorite character and book from the author study. In this unit of study, students made text-to-self and text-to-text connections and wrote about these in their Reader's Response Journals. They learned how to compare characters and books. They increased their knowledge in story structure elements practicing characters, setting, problem/solution and main idea. In Writer's Workshop, we created a rubric. Students learned "great beginnings" and how there are so many ways to grab a reader's attention. They practiced retelling the story with important details, and how to end a story telling the reader why they liked the story and if they would recommend it. And finally, for homework, students were invited to make their own puppets and present their interpretation of the book to the class. So much has been learned and so many wonderful memories were made during this author study that we think Lilly, Chrysanthemum, Wendell, Owen, Sheila Rae, and Wemberly will be with the children for a very long time! And how great that will be...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kevin Henkes Parade of Puppets

One way we are celebrating our Author Study of Kevin Henkes is by retelling a favorite story with puppets. For homework this week, students were invited to make puppets of their favorite Kevin Henkes story. They used socks, sticks, felt, cardboard, computer generated pictures, and paper bags...creativity abounded. The children came in this morning all excited, showing friends their creations and practicing retellings. Some students had to recruit a friend to help in the retelling and the collaborative efforts will be posted in a future blog -- it was wonderful! For now, enjoy the pictures of "The Mall-ards Parade of Puppets" honoring the books of Kevin Henkes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Response to Literature - Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Kevin Henkes has been our author study for the past few weeks. We have been reading, comparing, discussing, and retelling such works as "Chrysanthemum", "Julius, Baby of the World", and "Shiela Rae the Brave". However, there is one book that stands above the rest in our class, and that is "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse." In Writer's Workshop, students have been discovering great beginnings, retelling the main parts of the story, and finishing with an ending which may include a connection or comment on why they liked the book. This is PM's writing and retelling of Lilly...enjoy!