Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing- It's a Visual Thing!

Hello Everyone!!
Happy Monday!! I picked up a random book at Half Price Books the other day,  Visual Tools by Roger Essley, a diagnosed dyslexic.  The title caught my eye because I am such a visual learner. As I read through this book, I have to tell you, I almost cried.  This approach to teaching writing for a differentiated classroom has become my Ahhhh Hahhhhh for the summer.The author suggests that kids need to draw out their stories before they even begin writing anything.  Then they need to talk about their drawings, make adjustments, additions, etc, and then begin writing.  I have always had my kids draw before they write, but not even close to the extent that Mr. Essley suggests.  He calls it Storyboarding.  The process really helps kids organize visually what they want to say in their stories. Stick figures and labeling to help others understand are acceptable.  He tells many stories of kids with learning challenges who became writers because of this method.  (You've probably been doing this all along.  Sometimes I'm a little slower to get there!) 
While reading this, I couldn't help but be reminded of the struggle my oldest son had with writing. In fourth grade he was the only student in the school to get a "1" on his state writing exam. (4 being the best) :(  We were all devastated and mortified- mostly because he is a bright kid, in the gifted and talented class. We came to realize that he is intensely visual, and this was affecting his writing!  He has since graduated from the MIZZOU School of Journalism and is now an award winning broadcast journalist for ABC. He needs to see his stories!! This makes total sense to me now! If he would have been able to begin writing projects with a storyboard, I think he would have had more success in school.  
So now, how do I help my littles gain confidence in writing their stories?---through storyboarding!  I like to think of it as a kind of comic strip.  Kids draw their stories in little boxes with minimal words at first.  They verbalize all their ideas through their storyboard, gain insights from the class, and then create a "dummy" book from the boxes, adding text.  The dummy goes through editing, and then we are ready for publishing. Here are a few pics of a model I tried. 
Brainstorm ideas, and then draw ideas on paper. 
 This is a class sized model.

This is a kid sized version they can do on a plastic sheet in their writing notebooks. Attach cards with stickers helps with easy rearrangement.

Keep sheet in notebook

An envelope can be used to store cards

Make a "dummy" Attach cards to one side, add another card for text.

Add text

Keep adding storyboard cards, text.  Then revise and edit some more.
Finally, publish in whatever way you want.

I am so excited to use this visual tool with my new group of firsties.  I wish I could have my old classes back!  I just know it is going to be beneficial to so many. 
There is no way I can explain everything Roger Essley conveys in his book, but I will try to snap some pics when we get underway in the fall. 
I added this new tool to my Writer's toolbox unit, along with a ton more stuff. Just about everything you need to get ready for great writing!!



Sample of target skills

 Three different storyboard templates

6 different styles of draft book paper

the unit is now about 60 pages!  You can get it free if you CLICK HERE!!!

Einstein said, "If I can't picture it, I can't understand it." That is so true for my son, and for so many of our kids.
And Aristotle said, "It is impossible even to think without a mental picture."  Let's give our kids another tool to visualize, organize, and gain in confidence when dealing with text!  

On a side note: The storyboard tool is not just for writing!!  Use it in all the other curric. areas! 

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!  If you have any other questions (because I know I didn't explain everything!), please don't hesitate to ask!! We're all in this together!!
Until then, have a great rest of the day!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Words DO Hurt

Hello Everyone!
I am so looking forward to doing our Superhero unit with our new group of Superlearners! As I was thinking about the beginning of the year, I knew I wanted to incorporate the "Wrinkled Heart" activity that I've done the past 9 or so years.  We always spend time talking about bullying and how we always need to think before we speak. I like to use Chrysanthemum or Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon for this activity.  Take a giant paper heart and have kids crumple it up each time something is said that hurts the main character. After the story, try to smooth the heart. You can't get get the wrinkles out.  A great hands on and visual activity to help kids understand that words do hurt. Have kids place band aids on the wrinkled heart as a symbol of their commitment to thinking before they speak! Here are a few pics from previous years. It has evolved!!

Well, to go along with our Superhero unit, I decided to try using a paper superhero cape!! I think it will work. I redid the little poem as well. Take a peek!

For Reader's Response Journal

Have fun with this!!  And have a Super weekend!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Magazine Letters at your Fingertips!

Hello Everyone!
First of all, my apologies for not posting lately!  We have been having some frustrating internet problems.  So I am going to speed through this post while our connection is up!  
This is just a quick little activity post for those of you who like to use old magazines for literacy projects.  I looooove to reuse magazines that would normally just get thrown away, but I haaaaate the mess the projects create.  They can also be very distracting for some of my ADD kids. Some kids spend more time looking at all the other stuff included in magazines. 
 I have seen these magazine letter pages out there in cyberspace, so I thought I'd try it myself.  This little unit includes pages of color and black and white magazine letters you can use for so many things!! You simply need to print, have kids cut out the letters needed, and glue. You can use the pages for literacy and math! 

Can't wait to have the kids make these to go along with our Superhero beginning of the year theme!!

Unit includes several styles of  each letter, numbers, and symbols.

Phew!  I got through the post without our service being interrupted!! YAY!!
 Hope you can use this 11 page unit! 
 Please leave me a comment about
 how you plan to use it!! I would love to hear your ideas!! 
Stay tuned for a ton more "beginning of the year stuff!!!"  (Hopefully!) 
Have a great rest of the week!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Superhero Unit to the Rescue!

Hello Everyone!!
I hope you all are doing well! The last couple of days have been rainy! We need the rain soooo bad, so I'm not complaining! In fact, I love a good rainy day!! It means "Cleaning and Creating!"  Needless to say, I worked on the "creating " part first! I was able to finish up my Superhero Unit! Are you still trying to figure out your beginning of the year theme? Well, this little unit ended up to be over 100 pages, but it is full of "setting the stage for a positive year" activities. I have included some "Getting to Know You" activities, as well as organizational, incentive, goal setting, ELA, Math, Science, and Just for fun endeavors. Most of the supplies you will need to enjoy and learn through these activities can be found at The Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot. Here are just a few pics of what is included.

First Day Poster to color


Patterns for this little cutie are included in unit

Use Glow Bracelets for mini portable Venn Diagrams

A Strategy Game

A Subitizing Game

This little unit is Super Free!
I hope that you can use even a small part of this.  Please let me know if you spy any typos or if you can think of something else you want me to include!! I can't wait for school to start again!! I'll share pics of hallway and door displays when we get those up!
Now off to do some cleaning and then maybe some more creating! Oh! And I need to read our ELA book for our summer bookstudy.  We are working on "Make It Real" by Linda Hoyt. So far, I'm loving her practical strategies for using informational Texts with our littles!!
Looking forward to this joy filled day!! Hope you are too!