Sunday, July 15, 2012

NBK Ch. 3-4, I Won, and Goin' to Kamp!

There's so much to write about I don't know where to start! I guess I'll start off by saying I'll be taking a bit of a blogging hiatus. I will be heading to Kids Kamp (yes, spelled with a K) with about 25 4th and 5th graders from my church for a whole week. Crazy?! Maybe, but if the truth be known, I'm looking forward to it. :) With that said, I will be completely unplugged from my laptop, wi-fi, cell phone service, my blog, and anything technology related! It's one of the few times in the year where I am truly away from those things.

Secondly, I won a prize from Michelle at Making It As a Middle School Teacher. She had a huge giveaway and I won a prize. I never win anything, so I was stoked to see an e-mail from Melissa at Dilly Dabbles Doodles saying that I won something from her store!! I decided to go with some Hollywood themed frames to use in the upcoming school year. I also won a virtual goodie bag filled with different freebies from various blog authors. How cool is that?!?! Be sure you head to Michelle's blog and to Melissa's website to check out the rockin' awesome stuff they have going on there. You won't be sorry! :)

Last, but not least, I thought I'd share my reflections on the next two chapters of Notebook Know How. My last couple posts have been rather lengthy, so I will try my best to keep my thoughts short & concise. 

Chapter 3 was all about "kneading" the notebook. This was a really fun analogy, because she recounts the memories of baking with her grandmother and relates that to writing. Once the notebook gets launched, the main challenge is getting students to maintain and stay consistent with writing in their notebooks. Students go from merely writing in their notebooks to fleshing out ideas and developing topics into what will become full, published pieces of writing. Aimee Buckner shares some great strategies to help students develop their topics into writing pieces, but a couple new (to me) strategies caught my attention.
  • Three by Threes - This is an easy activity where Aimee has her students list three word phrases in three minutes on a particular topic. This forces students to think quickly and to be very specific with their writing. Before your students know it, they have very creative and powerful details to add to their writing!
  • K-N-T Chart - This is a great spin-off of a KWL chart. The students choose a topic and create a 3-column chart labled K-N-T. K stands for Know, N for Need to know, and T is for My Thinking. This strategy is especially useful when students are researching a topic and they can keep track of their own thinking as they research. This will help them formulate thoughts and opinions, then justify them with their research. It also encourages them to learn more about their topic!
Chapter 4 focuses on encouraging writers to read like writers. This chapter really convicted me of not using enough mentor texts in my writing lessons. I think I didn't use them often because I wasn't sure how to get the students to really examine other author's writing style. Aimee Buckner recommends that you read the book or parts of the book multiple times. Once for enjoyment, and two or three times to allow students to really pick apart the author's style of writing. 

One of the strategies that stood out to me was a revision strategy called Try Ten. Students reread their writing to pick out one "weak" sentence that could use some beefing up. They write that sentence 10 different ways without changing it's meaning, unless it enhances their writing. Then, after writing it 10 different ways, they pick the one they think is the best. Revision is always the hardest part of the writing process, so I was excited to add this tool to my tool belt.  

Another strategy I thought was especially useful was Mapping the Text. Simply copy a passage from a book familiar to the students to paste/tape into their notebooks. Students then circle words and phrases they think are interesting and then they try to emulate those interesting techniques, words, and phrases in their own writing. 

So, what am I going to do now? I am going to utilize more mentor texts to help my students write like real authors do. With this in mind, I'm wondering... what are some good mentor texts you use in your classroom? Which books lend themselves to given concepts? I'd love to read your suggestions in the form of a COWABUNGA! down below. Don't forget to link up your blog on my Bodacious Blogs page, either! :)

See you in a week!!

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