Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Supporting Young Writers Through Read-Alouds- Week 6 Already Ready Book Study

By extending the ways they talk with students about picture books, teachers further young writers' understandings about texts, process, and what it means to be a writer.

(from p 125 of Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten)
Without laboring the point, Matt says simply, "I like the way that sounds. 'Soft and silent she swooped through the trees.'" Then, he continues on with the reading.

With just a tiny bit of talk inserted into the read-loud, Matt does some important teaching. He plants seeds of understanding about how writers craft literary language, how readers draw to this language, and what this language sounds like in texts.

I love the language on this page as well. 

Later that morning... a student composes his own Waddell-like text for his book when he reads, "This is a snake and it slithers and slides."

During share time... Matt gets Owl Babies and rereads the page he read earlier and remarks on how the student's writing sounds like Martin Waddell's writing. 

In this example, the teacher worked with the student on the writing process across three different contexts- read-aloud, side-by-side while writing, and share time.

Wood and Glover suggest five lines of thinking that teachers and children can talk about related to writing and read-alouds-
1) People who make books
2) What makes a picture book, a picture book
3) Different kinds of books
4) Different purposes for books
5) The decisions writers and illustrators make

Talking About the People Who Make Books

Teachers need to support and encourage discussion that helps students understand that people who make books are everyday people just like them. Wood refers to this as the "concept of authorship." 

To build the concept of authorship-
1) Make it a habit to read the names of the authors and illustrators of the books you read. Read the names first, before you read the title. Embed a simple definition for author and illustrator into the talk. 
I have a book for you today that is written by a man named Mo Willems. He made the words in this book and he's the author. He is also the illustrator, so he made the pictures too. The name of his book is Knuffle Bunny. 

2) Show photographs of the people who make the books. This helps children see that authors and illustrators are real and familiar people. 

3) Read aloud the blurbs on the back covers to see what else you can learn about them. Find additional personal information from websites. 

4) Read the dedications. Knowing that authors and illustrators have special people in their lives makes them more real.  

5) Reread the same books. When reading a book students for a second time, you can talk about the author and illustrator like you know them. Rereading allows the talk about the author and illustrator to become more natural. This is the key to students seeing themselves like these authors and illustrators. 

6) Read multiple books by the same authors and illustrators. Reading a stack of books from the same author helps students see that writing is not a one-time event. 

Talking About What Makes a Picture Book, a Picture Book

Stapled sheets of paper and markers alone don't actually help children understand how to respond to an invitation to make books. Teachers need to encourage talk that supports students' understanding of what it means to make a picture book. 

- a picture book has both words and illustrations in it

- the words and illustrations change from page to page while staying on the same topic

- the author decides what the picture book is about (sometimes the author will make a note in the book explaining why he/she wrote the book, other times this is something you and your students can wonder out loud about)

- a picture book has crafted language in it (carefully use voice when reading and point out carefully crafted wording) 

Talking About Different Kinds of Books

Teachers need to help students begin to understand that there are different kinds of books- there is a difference between a book that tells a story and one that simply tells about something

Books That are Stories

Books That are Lists

Talking About Different Purposes for Books

It is helpful for students to understand there are different purposes behind the different types of writing and that two of those purposes are entertaining (writing just for fun) and informing (writing to teach people things). 

Point out and talk about common features- table of contents, labeled pictures, close-ups, glossaries, inset boxes, maps, bold print words, etc. 

The pieces for this anchor chart came from Kim Adsit's 

Talking About the Decisions Writers and Illustrators Make

Notice and name what writers and illustrators do in their books- for example: look at how the author made the word a particular way- the way Nicola Smee crafted the words "WHOA!" and "STOP!" makes us read them with a loud voice. This helps build a repertoire of possibilities for things your students to try in their writing and illustrating. 

Common features to draw attention to- 
Written Texts
bold words, words written in different sizes and shapes, repetition, dialogue, sound, interesting language, interesting uses of punctuation

perspective, interesting use of color, borders, layout, how the illustrations show more than the words, the presence of white space, the presence or absence of detail

A few closing points...

1) Manage your talk around books so that is supports students rather than overwhelm them
2) Help children take the talking and thinking about the read-aloud back to their writing
3) The message of all of the talking and thinking should be "You're writers too!" 
4) Bring student books to read-aloud time and talk about them the same way you talk about read-alouds
5) When working side-by-side with a child as he/she writes refer back to read-aloud conversations as teaching points

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