Sunday, February 7, 2010

Final Book Study Post & Reflection

Chapter 13: The Golden Line
I absolutely love the title of this chapter....The Golden Line! When I read like a writer, I uncover "lines" that engage me and enlighten me; lines that inspire my own writing. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite books for golden lines. She begins her book, "It was in the summer of the year when the relatives came.." which instantly reminds me of my childhood when all my cousins would come from Florida. They would stay for weeks! And literally become as she describes in her book, "it was different going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house". Finding golden lines in children's work is exciting. One student once wrote, "My mom is 99.99% perfect". Gary Paulsen's Canoe Days is filled with golden lines. He talks about the "green magic where the fish play" when describing the lake that his canoe glides across. I am inspired when I read like a writer. RF says that we should learn to write "memorable sentences". I totally agree that strong verbs is the key to powerful sentences. The example given on pg 110..."The Sun Dissolves" is a powerful demonstration of strong verbs. Jane Bell Kiester's Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment has a powerful chapter on verbs. Students can understand adding strong verbs and with modeling can do this in their own writing. Similes and metaphors are also tools that students should have in their toolbox. Making comparisons can add punch to their writing. "Overwriting" can be a problem. Sometimes when you teach 'similes' to children, they begin to write a simile in every paragraph to the point that the writing becomes 'over done'. Adding these impressive elements should be a natural process. That is why we need to provide them with many tools so that they don't take one idea and 'wear it out'.

Chapter 14: Putting It All Together
I like how this book first looked at various parts of a good piece and then put it all together to see how all the pieces fit together. I look at writing the same way. Using the rubric, I teach all the parts first to help students develop of understanding of what each part is and by modeling I show them how each part looks. Then, we put it all together in one piece. We can instruct by the rubric, write a whole piece and then assess by the rubric. I am amazed at the progress our third grade students have made in the past three weeks doing just this. First part by part with 'I do it' and 'we do it' strategies and now we have whole pieces where we can see how all the parts came together and are fitting perfectly.

Chapter 15: Last Thoughts (My Personal Reflection)
Writing has become an integral part of me. I live and love writing. It has become a personal and professional passion of mine to move students and teachers to love writing. As a teacher, I wasn't given the coursework or professional development opportunities to help me as a writer, let alone the instructional fortitude to guide students. I had to read and learn on my own. I guess you can say I am a "self taught" writer. But my 'writing road" was paved with great authors like Ralph Fletcher who broke everything down into simple understanding and then put it all back together so that I could learn about writing and how to teach writing. This book among the many others that I have read by RF and other great writers has guided me to where I am today....writing, teaching writing and reading about writing. As you continue to engage yourself in writing and the teaching of writing, I encourage you to "read like a writer", write often yourself, and provide many opportunities for your students to write daily.

I have enjoyed reading your comments as we have read Live Writing by Ralph Fletcher. I trust that you have gained some inspiration and instructional knowledge from this very simple but powerful book.

I leave you with one thought....What tools will you put in your young writer's toolbox?


Mrs. Peters' Third Grade Blog said...

Chapter 13: This chapter is so true to me! I try to overwrite a lot of times. When writing if we use our rubric we are able to control our writing. If we have our mind on 10 words then we may not try to over do our writing. However, we do have those students who want to do more (myself) and this is where this chapter will help me stress to my writers to not overwrite.

Chapter 14: Breaking this writing down is an eye opener. However, I just ask myself now “How do I teach all this to my third graders in the future without overwhelming them?”

Chapter 15: This summer is going to be a lot of writing for Mrs. Peters!!

Vickie Cox said...

Write On...Mrs. Peters! I hope your exploration of writing will continue to engage young writers!

Mrs. Dunston said...

I have to say that just today, I gave my students a writing assignment, and they asked me, "Do I need to use the five block plan?" There were no eye rolls or sighs. I was so excited. They have gotten used to it and are not so intimidated by it. I have longed for this day!!! Thank you, Mrs. Cox!

Vickie Cox said...

Kelley...I am glad your students are at this point. Thanks to YOU, they will be successful writers! Keep writing!

Miss Taylor's 3rd Grade said...

We focus so much on the descriptive words, we forget about how strong the verbs truly are. A lot of readers enjoy the action, so we really should focus on the action verbs! Metaphors are wonderful, but I think that is something that comes with much creativity and experience. I love how Fletcher mentioned the “overwriting” as well. It’s kind of like when someone tries to be too nice to you, and you just know it’s fake. I guess if your try too hard with the writing, it too can come across as forced and not so enjoyable.
I could not agree anymore with the fact that Fletcher made when he said two readers may judge a writing differently. For example, whether it’s English literature, poetry, or a child’s writing, people respond and/or relate to diverse words or methods within a piece of writing. He makes so many good points within the “Angie” story that it makes me feel that our children will at least leave our classrooms with a few good tools. They might not remember them all, but I guarantee something will click! Hopefully, we’ll all remember the “perseverance, playfulness, passion, and patience”.

Shannon Hill said...

I have students that are writing stories and not just any story a story with 5 paragraphs. They are doing this for enjoyment and on their own. They ask me everyday when we going to write another narrative in class. I LOVE the enthusiasm toward writing. When I read there story, I have several students who show strong verbs, humor, and creativity however I do have others that need even more instruction. I think I fall in that category. I feel like a lot of time when I write I try to overwrite. I don't just enjoy it. I think to hard. I would have to agree with the judging writing differently also. I feel that I judge more on creativity, wording, and action.
I have really enjoyed reading this book. Thanks for sharing!!

aljones said...

I definately have a different perspective on writing now that I am a teacher verses before when I read just to read or learn. Now when I read like you Vickie, I see beautiful words put together in a special way. Now I don't see that in every line of every book I read but when I see it I admire it and take note of it. I am also thinking of how I can use it in my class. I really don't think my kids are quite to that point where they read and want to be like that writer. I really think my kids are still just reading for fun or to learn. I think that appreciation for writer's craft comes with maturity and teacher modeling. I think about when I went through ARI training, I remember one of my trainers saying you have to show yourself as a reader, read when they read, talk about your reading life, and they will buy in and mimic your actions!
The rubric and five block plan give them security in knowing that what they are doing is right. I also LOVE the way we have what is expected in black and what we are working on in red. It let's them know what high expectations we have for them. I cannot wait to start writing and language next year. I think we are headed in the right direction.
Thank you so much for helping us take our students to a higher level. I have really learned a lot of new strategies from the workshops and this book study.

Vickie Cox said...

I am glad that you have all grown as writers and that the book study has been engaging. The blog comments have been enjoyable for me to read as I revisited this book another time. I love reading the book and everytime I read, I learn something new to take back to my students.

AHuffaker said...

I hope to use some of the ideas shared by Mr. Fletcher to improve the quality of my writing. I think an important first step would be beginning to read like a writer. With this purpose in mind, I would hope to collect some truly remarkable verbs, golden lines, etc. for my “Writer’s Tool Box.” These tools would be revisited when working on a piece of writing, not necessarily to copy, but for inspiration and generating new and unique ideas for my own writing.
There were some ideas presented by Mr. Fletcher that were completely foreign to me. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around “getting to know, understand, and love a character” that I’ve created in my writing. He said he thought about characters “the way you think about friends and family.” He writes to them, asking them questions. This concept is beyond anything I’ve ever considered before but very interesting. This is a book that I would revisit again and again.