Thursday, April 25, 2013

Writing Using Illustrations from Picture Books

Do you have reluctant writers in your classroom?  What have you tried?  Why are they having trouble? 

 Often times, I have found that students get writer’s block when they are left up to their own devices.  I know if I am told to “just write” during writer’s workshop, I too find myself having the dreaded writer’s block.  Sometimes I just need that little nudge to get my creative juices flowing. 

Last year, my school began using Lucy Calkin’s Writers Workshop series.  I enjoyed the modeling aspect, because it allowed me to use what was familiar to me to help my students pick out what stories from their lives they wanted to share.  It also made the process more “real”.  Anything that we can do to give our students a connection to their “real” lives outside of school, the better.  This series concentrates on non-fiction writing.  However, the students keep asking me when we are ever going to be able to write fiction stories.  I always let them during Working on Writing part of Daily 5, because they are craving it.  Though, this was not always true for everyone.  So what do I do for those little authors that have trouble writing on their own? 

I cover up the words of fictional books that they already know and tell them to tell the story in their own words.  This can mean a number of things.  They can rewrite their stories to tell a totally different story, or they can write rewrite the story in different words (such as a summary).  I LOVE to see what they come up with and they have something to share with the group just like all of the other authors. 

The beauty of this way is that they can work on summarization and retelling skills as well as their own craft.  One book I have used with my older students in 4th and 5th grades is the True Story of the Three Little Pigs.  It is always fun to see what they come up with.  A story that I have used with my 1st and 2nd Graders is Dr. Suess’ Green Eggs and Ham.  Try using old fairy tales, bedtime stories, and nursery rhymes.  Their twists are often a hoot. 

Often it’s best to start in a student’s comfort zone and help scaffold them to a new height. 

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