Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wednesday Writing - Marshfield Dreams

Like everything I do, I always looking for ways to make it better. This year I think I found a great way to make my Favorite Places entry in our Writer's Notebook stellar. Thanks to Ralph Fletcher and his amazing autobiographical Marshfield Dreams.

Normally what I would do is take the kids on a tour of the school on the third or fourth day armed with a clipboard, paper and a pencil. We stop periodically and they are to sketch the map of our school. Then I send the students home with an assignment to the same thing with their neighborhood.

The next day I have them use colored pencils to make a mark on both the school and home maps with a Heart shape. This is to be there favorite spot on the map. They also mark a smiley face for a happy memory and an X for some place that isn't so happy. Now they've got six different locations that they can write stories about.

This year, I had a staff development where the Literacy Coach pulled out Ralph's book and I knew I had to use. The inside pages included this very detailed drawing of his neighborhood growing up.

So after we took our tour of the school, I sat them down and read the short entry called Jimmy in Marshfield Dreams. It tells the story of the day they find the mudpuppy in the woods. It's a newt with bright red gills, in case you're curious. Then I sent them home with their assignment. 

The student maps were so much more detailed than they've ever been before and I could really see the benefit of having given them a visual to work from before they started.

I can't wait to hear all they stories they have to share.

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