Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Memoir Publishing Party!!

Last Friday was my students' 5th grade Memoir Publishing Party.

Last Wednesday, I was collecting the students' memoirs, just two days before the scheduled Friday Publishing Party. Suddenly I realized I needed to publish these as a class collection. They had worked so hard to combine all they knew about narrative writing and all they knew about essay writing and had now written amazing memoirs. So, I stayed Wednesday late and got the copiers going! After making a cover, I ran 30 copies of each for my four classes. The collections were between 30-40 pages each, making it hard to staple together so I stopped at Staples to buy a new stapler that staples up to 60 pages. By Thursday night, I had a memoir book to distribute to each 5th grader at the publishing party.
On Thursday, we practiced for Friday by reading our memoir aloud with a partner. Our partner's job was to listen and ensure that we used expression and used a loud enough voice. Then the listener practiced asking questions using the questioning cards. I modeled this first by reading my memoir with LOTS of expression and answering the questions from the comment cards politely.

I also asked who thought they would have a parent or grandparent come. I spent Thursday night (after stapling was done) making groups. I wanted to group the kids into 6 groups - 4 in the classroom spread out across the classroom and then 2 groups in the hallway. By being spread out, my hope was all could hear the reader. And I wanted to ensure that at least one parent was with each group.

I prepared this handout for the parents because I also wanted them to share a memory during the Publishing Party. All who enter my room get to be writers!

Friday was my favorite celebration yet!! WHY?
* I loved that there was time for each kid to read their entire meaningful memoir aloud.
* I love that so many parents/grandparents came (even my sister and mom came!)
* I love that the adults shared meaningful memories with their table group with many even writing very moving 6-word memoirs!
* I loved hearing students and parents say so many specific comments about how a writer crafted their memoir.
* I loved all the smiles each student-reader had as they listened to their table group's comments about their writing.
* I loved that the table groups started to sound a bit like a book club discussion...and the "book" being discussed was authored by one of my students...so powerful!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

a memoir

My 5th graders are writing memoirs right now. 
Here is the memoir I wrote while guiding them through their memoir unit of study.

Chores Can Also Bring Positive Energy
By Mrs. Donnelly

 “I can’t right now. I have to drive my mom and her friends to a luncheon,” I reminded my husband. I would much rather go hang out with him but I couldn’t that day. Instead, I had, what I call, a chore to do - chauffeuring my mother and her friends. I often have chores to do. Looking back on all my time spent doing chores, I realize something. Chores sound boring. Chores can be tiring.  Chores can take up my time, time I’d rather being doing something else. However, I realized now looking back, that many unexpected experiences often occur while doing chores. And because of the unexpected, I sometimes end my chore time actually feeling energized.

For example, there was the time I gave my mother and her friends a ride downtown. I thought it would just be a boring ride. I knew I'd have to fight the downtown traffic. It also was a chore that took me away from spending a Saturday afternoon with my husband. On a beautiful Saturday last May, I was tasked with driving my 80-year old mother and her friends to a birthday luncheon at a restaurant in downtown D.C.. All those in the car, including my mom, had grown up in D.C. As we passed landmarks, they shared their memories while I drove and listened.

“How did we survive without AC?” my mother said to all in the car as we drove in my air-conditioned Subaru when the temperature on the dashboard read 92 degrees.

“My brother and I would go to Rock Creek Park and sleep there overnight on hot days,” one woman replied. “You probably can’t do that today.”

“You just camped out?” I asked, thinking how that doesn’t sound like a safe thing to do.

“It was a different time and the park, with all those trees, was so much cooler on a hot night,” she answered.

“That house reminds me of Dr. Brennan’s row house on my block,” another said as she pointed to a row house with a corner tower on its right side. “His house was the first with an indoor bathroom.”

“Your house didn’t have indoor plumbing?” I asked.

“Not until I started school,” she replied. “I remember we were all a little skeptical about using an inside bathroom. We were used to the outhouse.”

“That’s where I use to get the bus to ride back home after school,” a third friend said pointing to a street corner. “I remember once my mom gave me a dime to ride the bus home. But I wanted to buy candy from the candy store instead. So I did. Then I stood at the bus stop and pretend-cried. A lady asked me why I was crying and I said I’d lost my dime and can’t ride the bus. She felt sorry for me and gave me a dime.” Laughter filled the car after hearing that third story.

I kept driving the car through the city with these friends who grew up in a different time. I loved hearing how different the city was 70 years ago. I loved hearing how different these women’s lives were from mine. Before I knew it, I had arrived at the restaurant, completing my driving chore. However, instead of feeling tired or annoyed, I actually felt energized. I helped out a group of ladies and in return, I enjoyed their stories.

Looking back at my life, I realize I spend lots of my time doing chores. Sure, I say I would rather be spending my time doing other things. But now, I must admit that my time spent helping others through chores, leaves me feeling energized.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Before That...a poem written by Pigeon who finds a hot dog

Before That
by Pigeon 
 Pigeon and Duckling share a hot dog while Pigeon realizes that the Duckling is very clever!

Before that, Pigeon states all the many, many reasons why this is his hot dog and why he should eat the whole thing by himself.

Before that, Duckling asks if a hot dog tastes like chicken (for the second time), 
using a very curious voice.

Before that, Pigeon goes berserk due to all the staring and questions from Duckling.

Before that, the Duckling asks if a hot dog tastes like chicken (for the first time).

Before that, Pigeon tells Duckling he should really try tasting a hot dog.
He says it in a very poetic way - a hot dog is a “celebration in a bun”
but reminds Duckling that this is HIS hot dog.

Before that, Duckling says he hasn’t tasted a hot dog before and innocently asks about its taste.

Before that, Pigeon tells Duckling that the food in his hand is called a hotdog.

 Before that, the Pigeon finds a hotdog and is very, very excited to eat it all by himself. 

I see this poetry form as another way for a student to RETELL a story. 
Why not start at the end and go backwards!

I will admit, I read and reread this book MANY times in order to write this poem accurately. 
What a fun way to encourage multiple close reads!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Beginning the TUESDAY SOL habit - Writing Poetry in Reading Workshop

Spoiler alert... 
If you haven't read the novels Rain, Reign by Ann Martin or Wonder by R.J. Palacia, 
and then you can appreciate my poems!

It is only Thursday and I awoke thinking about a Poetry PD I am planning for my district in May and I thought about the new poetry forms I learned this year during the 2015 SOL Challenge - Currently and Before That. Then I thought about the current read-aloud in my classroom - Rain Reign and Wonder before that (already I am thinking like a poet!).  So here I am on a Thursday morning drafting out what Rose, the character in Rain, Reign might write if she were writing one of these poetry forms. Also, I'll try one by Auggie from Wonder and then post this on Tuesday, my first TUESDAY (not during March) SOL! Yes, I'm going to make Tuesday SOL slicing my new thing to do! Thank you, TwoWritingTeachers for the opportunity and the nudge.

Writing Poetry in Reading Workshop
I see poetry as being a perfect way to let readers show their comprehension of a character. It allows the reader/writer to stand in the shoes of a character and share a synthesis in a fun, creative way. It could also be used during a biography unit or in Social Studies or Science to synthesis content material. I find that kids like writing poetry because it is quicker and seems easier because less words are often used. When a poetry form, like Currently or Before That is involved, they definitely can try it and feel successful.

Here's my attempt to use the Currently Poetry Form written as characters in two read-alouds:

1. This is written from the perspective of the main character in Rain Reign by Ann Martin on the day that Rose returns to school after being off from school due to Superstorm Hurricane Susan - the place I am in the book now with my students.


...standing alone on the porch awaiting my ride to school

...running to(two, too) Uncle Weldon's truck 

...adding packed/pact to my homonym list

...sharing my plan to get Rain (Reign) back by describing my map with rings, the list of phone numbers and my code (like CB) with Uncle Weldon as he follows all the driving rules while driving me to school

...chanting a string of prime numbers in(inn) my head as I'm a little nervous to return to school after the storm

by: Rose

2. This is written from the perspective of the characters in Wonder by R.J. Palacio at the end of Auggie's school graduation

 ...Auggie is walking up onto the stage after his name is called for winning the Beecher Prep MS Award

...Mr. and Mrs. Pullman are wiping the tears of joy from their cheeks as they realize that overcoming their fears of allowing their unique son to leave home and attend school, though scary, was definitely the right choice to make

...Via is jumping up and down, clapping proudly and realizing that others now are able to see beyond Auggie's physical deformities

...Charlotte, Summer, Jack Will are clapping and whooping as they realize how wonderful their school year has been, thanks to Auggie

...Julian is at home packing, as his family decided he did not need to attend the school ceremony, especially since he is not returning to the school and he is preparing to fly to France to see his grandmother

...Auggie's grandmother is looking down from heaven saying "Amen" and is feeling very proud of her daughter, son-in-law and grandkids who act so bravely every day

...Auggie is smiling, looking out at the sea of standing classmates and parents of classmates, thinking he will send this precept to Mr. Brown: "Everyone should have a standing ovation once in their life!"

by: The Characters in Wonder