A new Challenge!

One of the blogs that I follow “Windows to My Life-Writing to Remember” has been doing a really interesting and fun writing challenge much like the “slice of life” challenge I did last month (this is where I discovered her blog).

She has been writing through the alphabet about the state she lives in, Montana. I jokingly suggested that when she got to “H” she should write about my brother’s hat shop in Billings. He makes cowboy (and girl) Hats, his last name starts with H, he has a Huge Handlebar mustache, and he is always Happy to talk about his Hats.

Much to my surprise and delight she did mention his hat shop for H after writing a really fun story about her own experience with a favorite Hat. Here is the link to her story and blog: http://windows2mylife.blogspot.com/2011/04/h-is-for-hats.html.

I of course sent it to my brother, and told him to be on the lookout for a school librarian who needed a blue cowboy hat!

Her blog and A-Z challenge has prompted me to start my own A-Z writing challenge. Instead of writing about Oklahoma (although there are many things to write about) I have decided to write about first grade, and first graders. Thank you “Storykeeper” and “Two Writing Teachers” for the great inspiration to write.

A is for-

Authors of course! In first grade we spend a large part of our day reading and writing (ok most of the day). Everything we do hinges on these two things, they are what sets the tone for their remaining school years. It is my goal that before they leave my room they are thoroughly prepared to do both.

We have “writing workshop” every day in our class. It begins directly after lunch. I begin with a mini-lesson that I have created from a mentor text I have previously read that day, or week. Or from a specific feature we are working on such as voice, ideas, setting, characters, etc. We discuss authors and how they became authors, their writing styles, and the things we like or notice about the different author’s styles. We talk a lot about being authors ourselves.  We then move into “Quiet Ten.”

During quiet ten kids (and teacher) do nothing but write. Soft soothing music is turned on and voices are turned off. We are not allowed to get up, talk, read, work, or whine! We do nothing but write, or think about writing. The kids have already gathered supplies and they are ready to have at it.

After quiet ten it’s time for “workshop.” This is when collaboration and imaginations take off.  Our “Sous Chef” (We are Klinger Café in my room) quietly walks around and date stamps everyone’s work. Students gather together to work on editing, or team-writing. Illustrations are made. Books are stapled together. Conferences are scheduled and held. This is where the nuts and bolts of being an author happens. I meet with students, and students meet with each other. We discuss ideas, listen to stories, and offer suggestions that we may see, or ideas that the author may use if they so choose.

Finally after workshop we have time for celebrations (if time is limited we may move this to the end of the day). This is when authors share their finished work with the rest of the class. They may choose to read their writing to other classes such as Kindergarten. They can take their book to the school library for other kids to “check out.” Some choose to read to the principal or other teachers, and some choose to take theirs home to share with family members.

I have really seen a change in my authors this year. I have one little guy that refused to write in the beginning who now writes wonderful truck and tractor stories. One boy who did nothing but draw in January is now working on the SEVENTH chapter of a book. A girl that only wrote letters for words early in the year is now writing beautiful sentences and stories. They have all grown and improved in some way, and it has manifested through their writing.

Because I have been out of the classroom the past few weeks (student teacher has been teaching); I am thinking of having an “all day” celebration for parents (and me) to explore the changes that have taken place and celebrate their awesome work.  

Time for writing is very important in every grade. In first grade it is much like me; one of the many posts that supports the continuing strand of education (or fencing) that stretches throughout their lifetime.  

And in first grade AUTHORS are AWESOME!


One response to this post.

  1. Your post is a delight. I am glad you decided to take the challenge also. I do want to stop in and meet your brother.


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