Slice of Life Tuesdays: Rewind

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Slice of Life Small LogoRewind, But It Still Fits

I am recycling today, literally cleaning out the paper clutter, and revisiting some posts that still pertain in 2015. This is a special poem I created with my class last year with a mentor text. It still resonates with me today. I will use it again. Go forth, and save the planet!

My Poem for the Students

Forget that we started class before eight. Forget your pencil? No, I won’t wait! Forget the answers on the test? Forget to act your very best?
Forget the author, forget the plot. Forget which book was great, or not. Forget to walk straight in the hall. Forget to pick up the basketball.

But don’t forget the fun we had. (Don’t forget to ask for new IPads!) Don’t forget to help each other; she’s your sister, he’s your brother. Don’t forget to think of me whenever you use the Power of Three.

Don’t forget the lessons you learned, about thinking, dreaming, and how you turned…work into the fabulous grades you earned.

Forget about Ellis Island, Russia’s pogroms, and geography’s many, many miles. But don’t forget —

— I’ll miss your smiles!

This poem was inspired by Kenn Nesbitt’s “What to Remember in School” (from Aliens Have Landed at our School, 2006)

 

SOLSC Day 9: Knucklehead

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Slice of Life Small LogoThe March Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by http://www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

Being a Knucklehead

My ELA classes are participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge with me this year. We couldn’t commit to the challenge officially, due to ISTEP testing and the lack of technology in our school/homes, but we have been studying what some slices might look like. One of my favorite mentor books to read aloud during this time of year is Knucklehead, by Jon Scieszka. The accounts of the “tall tales and almost true stories of growing up Scieszka” are hilarious, energetic, and entertaining.

The first chapter, “Beginning,” introduces Jon and his 5 brothers, his mom, and his dad. We totally relate — immediately! My students laugh out loud as I read, and then we go off to our writing places to record our own lives.  Not a day goes by that we don’t get some fabulous idea from Jon and his family. If I had to guess, here on Day 9, I would say that many of my students would label themselves “knuckleheads.” Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. But all of them honor this wonderful mentor knucklehead by attempting to write like him. What a way to SLICE!

 

 

Day 26: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Inspiration Poem: Trying It Again

Thanks to my fellow Slicers and Ralph Fletcher for reminding me to use a mentor text and recreate it with my own words. Here’s my attempt:

The Good Old Days

Sometimes I remember

the good old days.

We traveled to Florida

to catch spring break’s rays.

The most fun I ever had

was sitting on the beach with Mom,

walking to the pier with Dad.

Sea shells collected, sand castles erected.

Needing that sunscreen and hat

so sun poisoning wouldn’t make you lay flat

on the bed; can’t go out, Oh drat!

Playing with sis in the pool after dark,

Going to Disney, can’t find anywhere to park!

Returned to the balcony, tired, just sat.

I still can’t imagine

anything better than that!

Day 13: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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Inspiration

In our Language Arts cross-grade level meeting this afternoon, we discussed the week’s standardized testing experience. One comment that stuck with me was this:  students who read a lot seemed to do well on the writing part of the test. I thought, “Yes, that simple idea makes so much sense.” One strategy that we want to keep in mind for next year’s curriculum is to use more mentor texts in the classroom. Immerse the students in different types of model texts, teaching them what we want them to understand using authentic means, and they will have a better opportunity to merge what they learn into their own writing.

I’ve used mentor texts for years. Each workshop or class I attend, I bring back ideas, check book list suggestions, and stock my shelves (at home and at school!) with reading that will model what I want the students to do when they write. My minilessons always spiral throughout the year: “Remember when we learned to use alliteration? Hey, look! Here’s another author who knows that trick!” (I make sure I identify my students as authors — they are!) Using mentor texts is a research-based, best-practice strategy for guiding students to write future best-sellers. Mentor authors help children build confidence. Mentors show children how the experts use the tools, tricks, and knowledge available to them when they write. Mentor writers are life-long readers and researchers themselves, the roles that we want children to take as they work through their writing.

Who hasn’t been inspired at one point or another by a painting, sculpture, musical score, or book? You know you have. You say to yourself, “I can do that.” Mentor texts inspire children to write like the experts. They can do that, too!

Disclaimer: This blogger does NOT using reading texts merely to teach reading or writing standards in the classroom. People should read for many reasons, not the least of which is to ENJOY reading!  Please do not tear apart mentor texts until students do not recognize them for what they truly are — wonderful reading material. My daughter and I once talked about author’s purpose. She said, “Authors don’t sit around and write to teach you about imagery (or making predictions, or identifying character traits, or anything else!). They just write, and you buy the book because you want to read it.