Our Ongoing Learning Group met last Friday in Ballarat with a guest Reading Recovery tutor. The theme was writing.
We had been given a few articles to read prior to our session. One article was about using a familiar book as a topic for writing. I had previously read this article and l already often use a book as a way to engage the student in a genuine discussion that leads to the student being able to compose a message.
The tutor had some further suggestions. The one that l really liked was to use 4 statements and a question. The teacher selects a book and she pre-plans 4 comments about each page. This is followed by a question that invites the student to respond. After the whole book is introduced this way, the student does a retell for each page.
It is a great way to develop the oral language of the student, i.e. the student is hearing and using the vocabulary and sentence structure from the book as well as the teacher’s expanded comments. This will be very useful for my timid students and my EAL students.
We were asked to bring samples of writing from our students. One sample was to be a piece that the student had written completely unaided, including no discussion about a topic and no help with the grammar.
I chose to try this with each of my students. The reaction to ‘No Help Day for Writing’ was interesting. 2 students immediately began to write and completed their task without asking for assistance. 1 student stared off into space for 7 minutes before she actually began to write. The 4th student complained for 2 minutes before she resigned herself to composing without my input. Each of the students completed their sentences within the 10 minutes assigned to them.
Here are the writing samples. The 1st sample is what the student composed unaided. The 2nd piece is what the student composed after a discussion about a book on a different day.
STUDENT 1 (Recently began lessons.)
I can sit. I can stand up. I can do my ABC.
The cat is stuck in the tree and it is sad.
STUDENT 2 (Independently chose to write about a book.)
Little Chimp falls down to Big Chimp.
When l went fishing l caught a little fish. (Wrote about his own experience in response to Father Bear Goes fishing.)
STUDENT 3 (Independently chose to write about a book.)
Sock ran away of the peoples and Socks went Rosa room.
Sam waved her hand and the ice cream fall down and Bingo ate it. (She changed eat to ate in response to my language but she did not change fall to fell.)
STUDENT 4 (Independently chose to write about a book.)
Baby Bear got a fake fish and Baby Bear gave Mother Bear scarf.
Kitty Cat scratched on the big chair and she was naughty.
It will be interesting to see if there are changes to composing once l try using the 4 statements and a question method. (NB I won’t do it all the time.)