Sunday, July 19, 2009

Writing with Collin

We've been writing. Collin and I, in the mornings after breakfast usually. Not everyday, but most. I am learning so much from watching him write that I find myself abandoning my own pieces to write about his process in my journal.

Though I've been trying to model different kinds of writing you might do (writing about an artifact, poems or short pieces), Collin mostly writes about what he did each day in his summer journal. He begins with 1 sentence. Thursday's was: "Yesterday I went to see the new Harry Potter movie." then he drew a picture of Ron after eating love-potion-laced chocolates. He remembered some of the words from the scene between Ron and Harry and he noted them in his stick person cartoon illustration. He showed me his picture & then fiddled with his pencil, the napkin holder, the lazy susan (we write at the kitchen table. So, I asked him to read me his first sentence. He did. Then I asked him if he liked that scene or not.

"Of course, I loved it!" he told me, so I suggested he write that next. He wrote, "I liked the part where Ron ate the love potion candy." He read me the sentence.

"Why did you like that part?" I asked.

"Because Ron ate the love potion..."

"You didn't like just because he ate the love potion did you?"

"Because Ron ate the love potion and it was FUNNY!"

"Ahh...there it is. Yes, because it was funny. Can you write that down to show your reason for liking that part?"

And we continued writing. I'd like it to be easier for Collin to write more, but I think what makes it easier is having the thinking in mind to write. What strikes me in all of this morning writing we've been doing together is how long it takes and how much support and encouragement Collin needs. Collin needs a lot of thinking time: to draw, to talk, to read and to look at words. It is time intensive. I wonder how this translates into his classroom experiences with writing (or my own with my own students for that matter)? He must get support from his peers, in addition I am sure to support from teacher modeling and instruction. Certainly he produced longer pieces this year in second grade (I have them in a file here in my office), but now I'm wondering how close to the teacher's model they may have been. I've been trying not to take over too much and just write with him.

What I'd like Collin to develop this year is some self-talk that will help him write with confidence. I hope I'm not overdoing it on the questions with him, but I'm trying to get that language to stick: what do you think the reader would want to know next? do you have a reason for why you liked it? does that make sense there?

We ended our day, that day, with Collin engaged in re-creating his Harry Potter t-shirt--in color no less. I think it's the first color he's used in his journal this summer. Hmmm...

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