Thursday, December 16, 2010

Realistic Fiction Charts to Support Student Independence

Are you in the midst of your realistic fiction writing unit?  Are you looking for ways to support students to work independently on strategies you have taught in minilessons?  You may want to make some charts with your students to do the following:

1.  Track your teaching points - the big ideas of your teaching points - in language the kids can remember and read.
2.  Give clear examples of the teaching points.
3.  Provide language or prompts to help them get started with parter talk or the next step of the writing process.

Of course, there are many possible charts you could make in this unit.  Here are a few I have used with kids in first and second grade classrooms in Manhattan that support independent work based on the three things I mentioned above.

Below:  An example of a chart that tracks some of the big teaching points.

Below:  The next two charts give students some of the language they can use 
while working with their writing partners to work on their fiction stories.

The chart below shows students ways they can "show and not tell" in realistic fiction stories.  These are the same strategies many students used in narrative writing.  Under each strategy are two post-it notes.  The small one is an example of the "tell," what I could say in my story.  Next to it is the more elaborate, "show" post-it, showing what it would look like to get that message across to my reader when I use that elaboration strategy.

 Below:  Close ups of the demo writing on the post-its from the chart above.  The character I have been using in my demonstration writing is Essie, a young girl who loves football and has just moved to her new neighborhood.  She is searching for new friends and her mom wants her to try some new activities.  In one of my stories she refuses to go to dance class.  The examples on the chart are from that story.

Post-it Folders for Readers at Levels A-I

Are you wondering how to support your students to talk about books with partners?  You might notice that your students are good at sharing the reading time during partner time, but talking about the books seems more difficult.  Perhaps your students are language learners or perhaps they are unsure how to talk about books with friends.  Maybe the kids don't know how much FUN talking about books can be!  This tool might just be the thing to support your teaching and the kids' talk.  It is a simple post-it note holder!

You can try using this post-it note holder tool with your readers at levels A-I.  Read on for tips on how to teach your young readers how to use this tool to have good conversation.

Model for students the different ways readers can talk about books in Read Aloud time.  Show them how you can mark pages where you and the students were surprised, scared for the characters, full of ideas about the text, etc.  You can create icons with the kids to represent these different ways of thinking just as Kathy Collins teaches us in Growing Readers.  Then put these icons on post-it notes and model placing these in the book as you read, think, and talk with the students.

You'll also want to talk about reading books with other people in your own life.  Talk about your book club meetings you attend and how you and your own reading buddies mark pages to talk about with one another.  Tell the kids how embarrassed you would be if you went to the club with no post-its!  My own book club life give me lots of stories to tell in my minilessons!

Invite the students to make their own post-it note folders or holders.  First grade teachers and I in Queens use simple file folders, post-its, and markers with the students.  The kids the keep this folder in their book baggie or book box so the post-its are reusable and do not get lost, smashed, ripped, etc.

Each day, as students read during independent reading time, coach them to have their post-it folder nearby so they can mark pages in their books to talk about with their partners during partner time.

You may also want to put the talk prompt near the post-it in the folder so when they have partner time, they can remember how to start their conversation.  We placed the matching icon on the folder so kids can match up their post-it in their book with the prompt in the folder.

At the end of each reading workshop (after partner time is over), kids can take the post-its off the pages they marked and place them back into their post-it folders for the next day.