Today is the first Feedback Friday for Teachers Write and the focus is on writing fresh beginnings.
To see the entire blog post about our first Feedback Friday, you can click here and you can check out the rules here.
Here’s a snippet from Feedback Friday RULES for commenting on posted work:
1. What works for you?
2. What doesn't if anything, and why?
3. If it's a beginning, does it hook you? If it's not, does it compel you to keep reading?
Here’s something I loved from Gae’s post about feedback and THE RULES:
“Notice the order. If you are a teacher I beg of you, never grade or assess a student's writing without telling them first something that works, what they've done right, before you correct them or offer constructive criticism (which in any writer's mind, especially a kid writer, is akin to telling them what they've done wrong). Hopefully over the course of this summer you'll see how much more open we all are to constructive criticism when we're given some honest praise first.”
As I read the beginnings posted by the other teachers, most of it seemed to be narrative-ish. But, since I don’t have a story I’m currently working on, I struggled with what writing I should post for feedback. Do I skip it? I didn’t want to do that! I feel like I’m on a roll, writing and blogging 5 days in a row.
Secretly, I have had the idea that *one day* I'd like to write a book. I feel like it will be a more professional one, and be focused on literacy with little learners. I’m still just bouncing around this idea, but I did write a professional piece in 2012 when I was at the Summer Institute for the Area 3 Writing Project that might have something to it. Here’s the beginning of that piece, which I have posted for feedback. Donalyn Miller once said something like if you can’t find the book you want to read, you must write it (loosely paraphrased, I have loaned out my copy of The Book Whisperer again, or I would look up the quote and get it right!)
So, here’s my beginning!
The Little Notebook: Big Ideas for Little Writers
A Case for Writer’s Notebook in the K-1 Classroom
Writer’s Notebook? In Kindergarten? First grade? Before you fall out of your chair, stay with me. It’s not as crazy as you might think.
The idea of a writer’s notebook is not new, and many writers have written about its use. In his book A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You, Ralph Fletcher describes notebooks as his most important tool for living a writing kind of life. Aimee Buckner (Notebook Know-How 2005) says, “A writer’s notebook gives students a place to write every day... to practice living like a writer. It’s a place for them to generate text, find ideas, and practice what they know about spelling and grammar.”
What is it about the writer’s notebook that makes it worthy of 5 and 6 year olds? Although the notebook may not look exactly the same as it might with a writer over the age of 8, the reasons for having a notebook at all are very applicable, regardless of the age of the writer. If the craft behind the notebook is so powerful, then perhaps it’s the structure that can be successfully adapted for our youngest emergent writers.
At the beginning of kindergarten and even sometimes early in first grade, student writing and illustrations can be challenging to decipher. Certainly, on the day the writing is done, the writer can clearly explain what’s in their journal. However, given a few weeks, or months, even when it was my lesson that generated the writing, I found myself looking at the journal and wondering what on earth it could be. It wasn’t even a sure thing that the student would know. But what about the illustration? Can’t that shed some light on the writing? You’d think so, but if you’ve ever seen a drawing of Brown Bear or The Gingerbread Man, you know they look pretty much the same on paper. Brown. Roundish. A head and eyes. Maybe.