My writers gathered on the ground, crisscross applesauce, for today’s mini-lesson. It was an idea from Craft Lessons by Ralph Fletcher and Joann Portalupi about word choice. I explained to the students that we would be reading Shrek for a purpose today – to find alternatives to the word walk.
I read. At the end of each page I stopped so students could share the synonyms they had heard. A student added them to our anchor chart.
They were enthralled with the ugly guy who breaths fire, eats pheasant, and is looking for his even uglier princess. Very engaged, listening for the words that were used instead of walk.
“Why do you think the author is using all of these words that we don’t normally hear, all in one book?” I asked.
“Because it makes it funnier,” they answered.
“Some of the children kept hugging and kissing him, and there was nothing he could do to make them stop,” I read.
“Some people don’t like to be hugged,” a student empathized.
And when he found his princess and they started to recite rhymes to each other! They loved it!
“Oh, ghastly you,
With lips of blue,
Your ruddy eyes
With carmine sties
I could go on,
I know you know
The reason why
I love you so –
We finished and I sent them off to slice, paying attention to the verbs they choose to use. No one is too old to enjoy a good picture book!
I just finished another great read by Ralph Fletcher, Breathing In Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook. It had nothing to do with the Inquiry that I was supposed to be doing, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to finish. I admire Ralph Fletcher’s writing (Marshfield Dreams) and his ability to teach writing strategies (Craft Lessons). A quick read with insight into a writer’s notebook, it filled me with ideas and forgiveness.
Ralph Fletcher (I feel like his name can’t be separated), among other things, gives his readers categories that could be found within a writer’s notebook. He puts these into the following categories: odd facts, questions, odds and ends, lists, lines and insights, artifacts. Can you believe it?! I have some of these things in my notebook?! So here are some of the random things I have written in my notebook this summer, some I may develop and some may go no farther than sharing through this post.
- Model how you want your kids to act.
- “Not every day is a good day for writing.”
- Your choice, your time (regarding writing workshop)
- Recovering Catholic
- Themes are necessary for my happiness
- What was that game called we played at Brittney’s house? There were fairies , magic, and adventure?
- Mentors in his life: teachers and texts
- Listening to Troy’s Dreams
- Pruning Bushes- even as adult writers.
- “Failing is another word for growing.” – Kahn Academy “You Can Learn Anything” video
Ralph Fletch, a published writer, says it is alright for some of your writing to be bad. Throughout the book he gives many metaphors for a writer’s notebook. However, regardless of the metaphor that makes sense to you, he says that the notebook is for all writing, good and bad. In fact, he says that most of the writing in your notebook will be bad. And that’s O.K. So, Jennie, I forgive you for a whole lot of bad writing. Ralph Fletcher says it’s normal and expected.
Two examples of perfect comments, even though they should have raised their hands.
Writing Workshop Mini-lesson on Narrowing the Focus:
Using a sample text from Ralph Fletcher’s Craft Lessons, we demonstrated how a two minute time frame is more than enough for a personal narrative. It was a story about a mom waking her son up in the morning. I pointed out that it was only a two minute time frame. The entire page was written about only two minutes.
“But it was a really cute two minutes!” says a smiling girl.
Practice with context clues:
She was so erratic that she would be in a great mood one minute and crying the next. you could never predict the way she’d act.
Then one student shouts out, “They’re talking about my sister!”
It was another one of those times you know that you should remind him to raise his hand, but it was just too perfect! And he did use the context clues!