Posts Tagged ‘writing’
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What do the subjects Math and English have in common? Not much? How about Venn Diagrams? John Venn, an English mathematician and logician, invented the Venn diagram in 1880, and although used often in illustrating mathematical concepts, the Venn diagram can be used in literacy lessons to help kids brainstorm and organize ideas.
First, let’s clear up the misconception that the terms compare and contrast are analogous (one and the same) words. Compare, in its strictest sense, means to focus on similarities. (Think of competitive parents who use their children to top the other’s child in a given category.) Compare is often mistakenly related to contrast. Contrast, clearly, means to focus on what makes it different. (So your child competed, my child won.)
Venn Diagrams can be used in the classroom as a visual organizational tool to illustrate the similarities and differences between two objects, characters, or groups in literature – or even topics raised during classroom discussions. Basically two intersecting circles, the left circle can be used to list traits of A, and the right circle can list traits of B. The circle sections that overlap, or are shared, become what they share in common. A handy way of reinforcing this for young children is coloring one complete circle in yellow pencil or crayon and coloring the other in red. Then the orange (more or less) center stands out.
After a Venn diagram is completed, a student has a ready-to-use outline for a compare and contrast discussion, using the diagram as a study tool or, for older students, begin writing a comparison (how they are alike) and contrast (how they are different) essay.
There are some great Venn Diagrams that ready-to-use, just print, copy and hand out to your students from educationaloasis.com, enchantedlearning.com and eduplace.com. Or you can create your own labeled diagram here or in Microsoft Word. And check out some sample lessons using Venn diagrams.
Do your students like to watch cartoons or animated movies?
Do they like to read comic books?
Have you student tried reading a graphic novel?
(There is a whole category full of graphic novels in Big Universe Learning)
Do you have students who like to draw?
Do you have students who doodle on papers, desks, books ….?
Using those interests may be a way to engage those students in learning!
Even the reluctant readers …
Even the struggling readers ….
There are so many visual clues t,hat can be used to help determine the words and the story …
I heard a teacher talking the other day about something interesting that was happening in her classroom.
She is a fan of Wonder Woman comics and her students know that.
Whenever students have time, either at school or not, many of them find ways to find things related to Wonder Woman or other comic strips they enjoy. The teacher was even showing comics students had created in their own time.
In these comics, we found fully-developed characters, settings, and plot lines.
And these creations were not from the students in her class who always exceeded …
By using different forms of expression, students were using various parts of the brain to really demonstrate what they had learned …. and many times without even realizing it!
By taking the time to create the comic images and add details, students were able to really focus on the story they were trying to tell …
Many found drawing a picture while thinking about or planning a story, writing a story became an easier mountain to climb …
Tonya Wright from Literacy Connections writes about young preschoolers who aren’t yet able to write – but can journal. She suggests that journaling can be used as a starting point for literacy. By taking away the constraints of spelling rules, lined paper, writing with pencil while seated at a desk or table…and giving the children freedom to create, will make writing an enjoyable activity instead of a difficult task.
Journaling isn’t just for preschoolers though. It can be made appropriate for any child, at any age. First get the students excited about journaling by having them create their own journal book. The book can be make from simple construction paper to more elaborate types of handmade books. Although Wright suggests avoiding lined paper for the very young, an already bound composition-type book with space to draw pictures would also work. (Just because there are lines doesn’t mean that we have to use them.) An easy how-to from the Kansas Public Library is here.
Permission to use granted by the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library
Dollar store priced black and white composition books can also be used – and it is pretty easy to alter by making a cover or adding pictures, stickers and drawings, as my son’s teacher Jay Sarath encourages his third-grade students:
For parents, there are so many journals available in stores or online, journaling has lost it’s negative “girlie” diary connotations with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and other deconstructive type journals such as Wreck this Journal. Having a place to record ideas, thoughts, and feelings is another way to encourage spontaneous literacy.
Making Room to Write
Where students write is important too – in the reading corner or at the craft station, wherever they feel comfortable will inspire them. And that also means, use any available medium – from markers to crayons. Don’t forget to date journal entries – as it is a great way for teachers, parents and child to see progress!
Writing Without Rules
Allowing the children to spell inventively and phonetically is an important part of the writing process. As any “real-life” author will admit, during the idea-generating step, writers don’t pay attention to grammar, punctuation or even complete sentences. We should allow students this step also. So parents and teachers stay hands-off – no correcting allowed. If a child asks to dictate to you, oblige, following their instructions (even if you disagree). Allow the children to use pictures, if they choose to avoid using words, to communicate.
For older students, they can use their journal as a starting point to their own story-telling or creative writing. The can choose one entry and add details, dialogue, and action – and the often-cited hardest part of writing: thinking of an idea becomes the easiest part.
“Publishing” Journals Creates an Audience
The final step to the writing process is a form of “publishing,” and even young journal writers can benefit from an audience for their journals. This can be anything from a group sharing to inviting parents and guardians to a class reading.
Graphic organizers are an excellent tool not only for visual learners who struggle with information that is presented in an entirely written form, but also to encourage new ways of thinking in typical students. This is especially the case in writing assignments, where some children are easily frustrated trying to come up with ideas that fit within a given topic. Graphic organizers remove a lot of the words involved in pre-writing and aid in the connection of ideas to text.
The Meet Tadd F. organizer focuses on having students slow down or “downshift” and add details into their writing. The acronym stands for Thoughts, Action, Description, Dialogue, and Feelings. By keeping a small sheet with this acronym at their desk or at home for use with homework assignments, a student can remember not only to add information, but to go back and revise their work.
T = Thoughts
What are you thinking? Or, what is your character thinking?
A = Action
What’s happening in your story? What is the main point?
D = Description
What are you seeing, hearing, feeling, and/or smelling? This requires 2-3 sentences to fully describe the scene.
D = Dialogue
Say something, have a character say something, or have a conversation between characters.
F = Feelings
What are you feeling, or what is your character feeling?
Teaching literature can be so much than at-home reading assignments, pop quizzes testing reading comprehension and follow up discussion. In “Help for Struggling Readers: Making Reading Exciting” by Imagine Learning, Inc suggests some hands-on ways to make reading exciting – from using interactive media to eating the foods that are described in stories and acting out or drawing scenes. This reminds me of Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, where there are seven distinct multiple intelligences (MI). Different from a student’s IQ score, a student’s MI is closer to an innate talent, and tapping into it allows students to learn by doing, as the generally accepted breakdown of learning is, students learn:
10% of what they read
20% of what they hear
30% of what they see
50% of what they hear and see
70 % of what they say as they talk
80-90% of what they hear, see and do
Although there is criticism of the MI theory (lack of data), there is no arguing that creating lessons that involve the modalities creates a dynamic, hands-on approach to learning – tailored to students’ diverse learning styles. In “The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane suggests that using media and multimedia in the classroom lends itself to Gardner’s MI.
Below is excerpted the hands-on ways that teachers can address different learning styles, according to Garner’s MI
These students think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships.
Ex: experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions
Tools: logic games, investigations, mysteries
These students draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream.
Ex: drawings, verbal and physical imagery
Tools: models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs
reading, writing, telling
These students like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories.
Ex: encourage them to say and see words, read books together
Tools: computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture
muscular movement: acting to dancing to building
They like movement, making things, touching.
Ex: physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing
Tools: equipment and real objects.
They may study better with music in the background.
Ex: turn lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time
Tools: musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia
discussions to debate
These students learn through interaction and have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts.
Ex: They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues.
Tools: the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail
Ex: They can be taught through independent study and introspection.
Tools: books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For many of us, this week is a chance to take a deep breath, look back at all that has happened these last 360-odd days, and also look forward to our hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Just as there is no denying the sight of Halloween decorations in August, there is no escaping all of the talk about New Year’s Resolutions.
And if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So with an eye toward literacy and reading, here are my resolutions for 2013. I’ll give you a hint – I’m going old school.
Write More – Longhand
As much as I love the ability to type and edit as I write, I find myself struggling to just let ideas flow. It is so easy to hit the backspace or delete buttons if I change my mind about a word or phrase. I’m thinking I need to spend more time with scribbling and ink in the margins.
It has also taken me away from my journal. For more than 20 years I wrote nearly every day. Now its been two years since I’ve put pen to pepper to express my personal thoughts.
Read More Widely
This is a resolution that is like “eat healthier.” The more I do it, the more I love it and the more I stretch myself as a reader. On my Google+ profile you’ll see that my bragging right is “I read ONLY children’s and Young Adult books.” I don’t plan to change that any time soon. I do plan to push myself into genres I’ve only tried once or twice: wordless books for older readers and graphic novels.
Read More Consistently and Visibly
I love to read in bed in the evening. It’s a wonderfully relaxing way to end my day. Rare is the day that I don’t pick up a book, even if it is only one page before I conk out. What I don’t do well, though, is read a book during the day when my daughter can see me. She sees me reading the newspaper, but in her mind that is like school: reading for a purpose. The news isn’t reading for fun.
So for the coming year, I’m going to keep a book or two on the coffee table in the family room … just like I have on my nightstand. I’ll select books in genres she likes or that look like they have laugh-out-loud moments.
Maybe – just maybe – she’ll ask me what I’m reading or pick up a book, too. That would be something to celebrate in 2013!
Do you have reading resolutions for the coming year? We’d love to hear about them!
Posted on December 19, 2012 by Suzan Woodard in Literacy, Personal Experiences.
Tags: Connecticut Tragedy, Dealing with death, Kids and Grief, Literacy, Mort and Brigitte Harris, Online Children's Books, Reading, Wayne State University, writing
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I’ve been away from blogging for BigUniverse.com for several months due to family tragedy, and I have missed taking my daily online stroll through the virtual bookshelves of this charming educational resource.
Reading, writing and the wonderful world of children’s books are near and dear to my heart. Picture books were an integral part of my formative years and were the launching pad to chapter books, the classics, a college education, and a journalism career.
In recent months, the gift of reading and writing has come full circle. While picture books offered entertainment and knowledge to me as a little child, reading and writing have been a source of comfort following the loss of my mother this summer. Like the warm lap of my mom during my childhood, reading Psalms has brought peace to my heart as an adult. Starting a journal provided therapeutic expression through written language. Reading notes of condolence underscored the fact that I was not alone in my loss, and booklets on grief reassured me that grieving is a process.
One of the things I have done as part of that process is to read the last two novels my mother read. (She was a voracious reader!) Reading those books brought me some of the same enjoyment that she experienced. It was a little something she could still share with me.
My mom, 84, did not start out as a mass consumer of books, magazines and Internet news. She told me dozens of times how she struggled with reading when she was younger. “Back in the day,” literacy intervention for at-risk readers was not as sophisticated as contemporary methods. My mother, however, was tenacious and bright. She figured out the reading thing on her own, so she never needed adult literacy services, but it’s nice to know that such help exists.
Wayne State University in Detroit just received $2.5 million to support the university’s community outreach adult literacy program, according to a recent Associated Press article. The funds were a gift from Mort and Brigitte Harris to endow an adult literacy office in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College. How cool is that?
Big Universe also is a resource for readers of all ages and levels. From wordless stories, audio books and illustrated graphic tales to humorous reads, Big Universe is an education website that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. In fact, Big U currently has 478,000 members in 171 countries. Its impact encircles the globe – like the arms of a loving mother who teaches and provides for her children.
NOTE: This blog was written before the Connecticut school tragedy. Although I touched upon my personal journey through grief in this blog, the sadness of the horrific event that took place a few days ago at Sandy Hook Elementary cannot be calibrated or compared. Human words – though powerful – will never adequately explain the catalyst for this heart-wrenching event or provide all the solace needed by those affected. God alone can provide this. For those left behind, please accept my deepest sympathy and my humble prayers for your comfort, peace and resolve to carry on.
Please consider reading the 2010 blog titled “Dealing with Death through Books,” a piece that highlights books and resources for children facing grief and loss. - Suzan
Getting a student to write a well developed story is a challenge. Young writers need to be so focused on a variety of things as they write: spelling, punctuation, topic development, sequencing, and handwriting to start. Often, because they are working so hard on putting all these things together, they lose focus on the story itself, the plot. Often they can get so wrapped up in telling the story that they tell too much. Part of my approach to having students be able to write a focused narrative this year has been to have them first focus on and develop the climax.
Using a roller coaster graphic organizer to help them visualize the rising and falling action surrounding the climax, students first decide upon their climax and write it in at the top. That way they can start to see how their entire story needs to work around that important moment they have chosen. My own students are starting to see how a good story doesn’t have to span a lot of time or tell about every event, but it does need to stay focused and detailed.
After writing in their climax, they fill in their beginning sections of the plan. Once that is done, it is easy to see how all the other parts of the story center around the climax.
This has helped many students see how a story’s plot is developed. We have even practiced simply planning out narratives to get a feel for how good stories really do focus on that climactic moment. Here’s one you can try:
Find some paintings or photos with people in them. Have students look at and discuss the visual by describing the characters and setting they see. Then tell students to find the climax in the story surrounding the picture. Maybe the picture takes place just before or right after the climax (hence it illustrates the rising or falling action) or maybe it shows the climax of the story. Regardless, have students describe the climax of the story and then work their way around the climax by describing the rising and falling action. Finally, have the students fill in a roller coaster graphic organizer to help them further develop their ideas before writing the narrative up on paper.
The key to a really good story is the climax. How else can you help students to develop that important part of the story?
Over the last couple of weeks, my students have started to plan and write a personal narrative. In past years, I’ve approached it in a way to fit the standards of a state test where we basically followed a five paragraph format. This year, however, I am taking the students on a roller coaster ride and I think it just might pay off!
Don’t get me wrong, the five paragraph format is good for structuring a generic response to a prompt. It gives a clear outline for the appropriate beginning, middle and end of just about any written assignment. However, what I noticed was that when students wrote a story using this formula, most stories were bland. They were more of a recount of events that happened to them. As a short undetailed example:
My family and I went on a trip to Disney World. First we got on the plane. It was a long ride. Then we got to the hotel and hung around for a while. Finally we got to go to one of the parks. I loved the rides. Eventually, we had to go home. The plane ride home was long, but finally we got home and unpacked. That was our fun trip to Disney.”
Without getting into a full five paragraphs, I think you may get the idea. The stories were boring, even the well written ones. They seemed to lack the focus on a particular event and that exciting moment that can make the reader smile (or gasp, or cry, or laugh, or cringe.)
Hence, the roller coaster. I used this graphic organizer provided by nanowrimo.org. I like this version of the roller coaster plan because it really breaks down the important events of a well crafted story from beginning intro, to the initiating event, rising action, climax, falling action and end.
First, I shared a story I wrote myself using this plan and then I showed the students how each part of my story was planned out on the roller coaster. The important parts I emphasized was that there is an initiating event that leads to the climax and that the rising action helps to build the story up to an exciting climax. I think that will be the key to this group of students producing great stories.
We then brainstormed ideas for personal narratives and the students started to plan. Of course, some students needed assistance with this, but once they realized that a climax didn’t have to be something earth shattering, they were fine. One girl planned a story about getting her ears pierced, another about tubing. One boy is planning to tell about how he fell off a tree branch and another about scoring a touchdown in a playoff game. I can already tell that these stories will be more interesting to read as they are really focused on how to get up to the climax of the story.
I am excited to see where the roller coaster plan can take my budding writers!
This is an updated version of a post I wrote for the PBS Parents blog Booklights as part of my “Bookworm Basics” series. The original article appeared in June 2010. Although geared toward parents, teachers and librarians may find these posts valuable for their classroom or as hand-outs to share with parents.
Books are great to share every day, but it is also nice to keep a few books in reserve for those times when you need to jump-start some interest in literacy activities and can’t get to the library or bookstore.
This is a stash of books – and it doesn’t need to be many – for your Rainy Day bookshelf. These are the perfect response to “I’m bored!” The key is that they aren’t available every day … just those “special” days when the kids can’t rip and run.
Joke books and riddles keep the kids talking to each other and laughing for hours.
* These books are essentially anthologies.
* They have lots of content, there is no required order of reading, they are (usually) good for mixed-age audiences.
* Everyone will find at least one thing that tickles their funny bone and/or stumps them.
Activity books are titles that engage the reader to use the book. Although workbooks fall into this category, I’d recommend keeping the fun in the books on your rainy day shelf.
* Coloring books and learn-to-draw books are always fun, as are books of word games (crossword puzzles, word hunts, and word scrambles).
* These types of books can often be found in a dollar store.
A kid-friendly craft or project book can offer hours of activity, too.
* A quick check at Amazon.com returned nearly 800 craft/project books for kids – 756 of them for kids ages 4 to 12!
* So if you want to find fun in a subject that interests them … there is probably a book for that!
Some need more unique supplies, so you may want to read carefully through the book to make sure you will have what you need on that rainy day.
Last but not least, books with blank pages (bound or spiral) are also good to have on hand. You may even think about adding a special set of crayons or pens to keep with it.
Kids can turn the “empty book” into art or story portfolios, reporter’s notebooks, lists of their favorite (or least favorite) things, journals … anything their imagination dreams up.
Do you have any favorite books you like to save for rainy days?
Note: Book cover images link to the Reading Tub affiliate account with Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links can earn income for that Literacy nonprofit. There is no obligation to use those links or to purchase the product.