Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Of Primary Importance for Intermediate Treasures
Throughout the past year, I've been reading blog posts referencing Ann Marie Corgill and her book, Or Primary Importance. While at NCTE, I was fortunate to listen to her speak about an author's apprentice and mentor texts in the writing workshop. She recently moved from teaching primary to sixth graders and I embraced the one line she spoke towards the end: "I have found that whether I am teaching first graders or sixth graders, both age groups need similar structures and strategy lessons. All we as teachers need to do is "bump" it up to the appropriate level."
I went to the library, read her book, and have purchased my own to mark it up. She speaks with sincerity, as she tries to create purposeful writing experiences in her classrooms. While I am currently teaching fourth grade, I am going to use her studies as a GPS for my writing themes in the new year.
Mary Lee, from A Year of Reading, has been sharing her ideas for Literary Essay thinking. Since we both are in the same district, I've been marinating on the Literary Essay study in writing, also. I'm going to approach it through a poetry focus in 2010, while incorporating visual arts and technology. I want poetry to be a genre they are choosing to read and write throughout the year, not during poetry month. We've been studying words: how they sound, how they look, how they mean, and how they feel when we say them. Using this schema, my goal is for them to find words and themes to use in their writing. Ann Marie recommends front-loading and previewing the genre before we write, so my treasures have been sharing favorite poems. We've been using an Elmo machine to project the poems. I'm amazed at how engaged they seem when they are doing the sharing.
The first two weeks back, I'm going to share mentor texts that depict various types of poems and have them try them in their independent time. I want these texts to be touch points for my treasures to reference as they begin to craft their ideas and mold their poetry thoughts. I'm also thinking of ways to use different media as a mode of expressing their craft. Fourth graders still want to use paint, clay, and other art medium, so I want to tap into that intelligence. The technology component is the area I'm working on. Our computer time has been limited, so I'm problem-solving some ways to include this component, also. Thanks, Mary Lee, for sparking my thinking! You always do!