Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Focus Lesson: Publishing

It is cool and sunny as I walk up the sidewalk to visit Amy's fourth grade classroom. The smell of fair food is lingering in the air, but I am more excited about seeing what these kiddos are doing than I am in visiting the fair, which I will do when I get done! 

Today's focus lesson is: Writer's publish to get a piece ready for an audience to read.
When all the children are gathered on the floor in front of the large screen, Amy tells them to begin with a clean page in their notebook and put the title: FAIR on top.  She reminds them that this Quick Write is to warm up the brain...just like sports people warm up their muscles before an event.  The brain is a muscle. They will then be able to use the quick writes as 'seed ideas' later.

She then gives them some guidelines about publishing: You can write with a pen. You can use pretty paper. You don't have to type it.  She showed them samples of published pieces her former students had done so they could have an idea of what was possible.
Next, they went over a list of questions to see if they were indeed ready to publish. With that done, they were off to various spots in the room to work on publishing. They also had a deadline to work toward. They had to get busy!  (Just like professional writers).

I was able to conference with five students during their writing time. Braeden was writing a play about a video game: MineCraft. It was interesting to see how he was using side bars for directions on how the actors should be reading their lines. Joey was publishing his four chapter book: Snake Attack. He was working on the back cover and how to add some things to interest the reader there. David was doing a book on information for how to better play the game: MineCraft. Today he was working on the cover. Kaydence was writing a personal narrative about a trip she took to Chicago.

Grace was publishing a darling book called: Beautiful Morning. It was a picture book. She said she just loves to make words come alive. She had used repeated lines and colorful fonts in her own handwriting.
As the children went to the sharing time and gathered back on the floor, I thought about how each of these students sees themselves as writers. They are working in a workshop where anything is possible. I can see the value of taking LOTS of time at the beginning of the year to set up procedures. Allowing the children to have choice in what they are writing helps them to see the power of words. They have guidelines, but they also have freedom. The most important part of writing is to feel the ability to write for the "world" not just do what the teacher wants. Yes, there comes a time when genres must be taught. However, learning to love writing and have confidence in what you write, is powerful!

Okay, I'm now ready to head to the fair and those wonderful Fair Doughnuts!!!

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