Friday, August 10, 2012

Launching Writing Workshop

Woohoo ~ I am very glad to say that the picture book fairy visited again last night, and I stumbled upon a wonderful selection of books to add to my collection. The book nerd in me was certainly jumping for joy as I thumbed through Caldecott Award winners and some of my favorite authors yet again! This left my afternoon full of organizing yesterday's and today's finds. Can't wait to see what might be left behind through the weekend. 

As I put new books away, I decided to pull the mentor texts I will use in the next few weeks as I launch Writing Workshop. The hardest part of this for me is whittling it down to a manageable selection - decisions, decisions.

When I first started teaching, Writing Workshop was the most intimidating and overwhelming part of my day! I felt like I had NO idea what was doing, and trying to reach the balance of teaching the craft of writing without leaving grammar out seemed impossible. Now, although I still have tons to learn (and even more ideas to borrow/steal from others,) Writing Workshop is one of the most exciting parts of my day! I owe this to two books in particular for pushing me in the right direction.


Launching the Writing Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide in Photographs by Denise Leograndis is a very simple guide, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much the pictures of the process in action helped me. The first year I used this book, I practically copied every anchor chart (cringe) and read every book that she recommended. Thankfully I have enough experience now that I can adjust the books and anchors as needed with my students! Still, the beginning of the year does not pass without my referring to this book.

My next step of growth was at the hands of Jeff Anderson and his book Mechanically Inclined. I attended his workshop one summer, and he had such an energetic, straight-forward way of teaching grammar. His use of mentor texts was just what I was looking for, but more than anything, I love how he provided simple anchors/scaffolds to help students understand the concepts. Getting fourth graders comfortable with complex sentence structures was never really one of my favorite things to do, but I have to say that it has definitely moved up my list. Check out Jeff's great site here.


This summer I have spent even more time refocusing my thoughts on Writing Workshop. I have done some rereading of Ralph Fletcher's A Writer's Notebook, and I picked up Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner. Let's just say that I am itching to get in there and get to writing with my new batch of kiddos!

Now time for my Picture Book of the Day...

It is my firm belief that as I continue to share through this blog, the more apparent it will be that, yes, I am a bit on the crazy side when it comes to picture books (well, probably most books, but we will stick with picture books for now.) I do believe my friends are ready to have an intervention - I have heard the whispers lol.... I only say this because when I brought this book to school, I stopped anyone that got near me just to share! (I think I even hunted down a few that were afraid to get near, giggle.) I LOVE Berkeley Breathed, and you will see his books often here.

The first time I read Mars Needs Moms!, it is always just for fun, but we always go back and revisit it to learn from the amazing word choice. In this story, Milo is more than just a little upset with his mother and cannot see what makes mothers so special. Some of Milo's thoughts regarding mothers in general: "they were giant, summer-stealing, child-working perfumy garden goblins ...bellowing broccoli bullies...slave-driving, trash-mashing, rubbish odor ogres..." How can you NOT love that?! Now if you can manage to see past your "writer's eyes" and the beautiful language of the text, the story itself is beyond precious and opens itself to much inferring. Many great discussions revolve around this story each year!

Berkeley Breathed is such an amazing illustrator!

I know that since I have started reading this story with my class it has been made into a movie, but I just have not had the heart to see it. It would make me so sad if it did not reach up to my expectations, and because most movies never do, I will simply enjoy the book. 

Happy Reading!!

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