Friday, June 29, 2012

Supporting Children's Illustrations as Writing Details

I am continuing the book study on In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray today. Mrs. Wills is leading the discussion this week so click (HERE) to link up with other bloggers who have joined.  This week is on Chapter 7 Ideas and Content.  Here are writing samples from a student who was in my class.  I will use her book to highlight some of the things that I learned about supporting Ideas and Content from In Pictures and In Words.  And as a side note:  If we are teaching young children, we have to model, model, model in our own writing along with giving them mentor text to support these concepts.  Will you see all of the concepts that you teach in every single illustration?  No.  But you will begin to notice that it becomes a natural integration as they master each concept.  We cannot expect young children to independently use all of these strategies: but instead, they should start trickling out of their illustrations.  You should have "Ah Ha" moments as a teacher and also smile when you see them using a technique that has been modeled as you "Think Aloud" about the author's choice of illustrations and technique.

Student's Explanation:  The pigeon is really hungry and is staring at the breakfast on the table.  He wants to find a way to get to the table so he is thinking about sneaking under the table to get it.
My Thinking:  This student was a reluctant writer.  When I sat down to conference with her, she did not want to write any words.  Since our focus was on the illustrations, she had a good start.  I just opted to write the title for her to take the emphasis off of something that was intimidating for her.  Sometimes children need minimal supports to get the motivation to write.  One of those is the freedom to draw what they are thinking in pictures.  Notice how the pigeon is facing away from the reader and looking towards the focal point of the food.  Starting the initial writing is the hardest.  How do I know?  Starting the writing of my blog is the hardest for me.  Once I get going, it's easy.
Student's Words:  Can I eat breakfast?  No. No.
Student's Explanation:  He is thinking if he tries from the sides of the table, he can get breakfast.
My Thinking: I love this choice of directionality in illustrations.  In the title page the pigeon is facing forward looking in and from below the picture.  This student decided to have the pigeon try to take the breakfast from a different angle.  This is something I wouldn't have noticed had I not been in tune from just reading In Pictures and in Words.  

Student's words:  Can I have some juice?  No. No. No. But I am so so thirsty. No. No. No. No. No. No.
My Comments:  This picture seemed random to me.  So I asked, "Why did you choose to make the illustrations in this way?"  Try to leave your questioning open ended so you can get the full impact of their drawings.  Sometimes when we guess what they draw, we take the words away from them.  Or we only focus on their text and negate that details can be in the illustrations to support our text.
Student's Explanation:  The pigeon is up above (look at the top of the page - barely in view) and he is so thirsty that's how many juices it would take.
My Thinking:  This page takes on a whole new perspective of just how thirsty this pigeon is.  I really started to believe that maybe I should just give the pigeon some juice myself:)

Student's Words:  Can I have a egg at the dinner table?
Student's Explanation:  The pigeon wants to eat at the dinner table because that is where you go to sit down with your family.  It is nice to do that.
My Thinking:  Awww!  I felt a little guilty with this one.  How many times had my family sat down at the dinner table to eat that week.? We are always in a rush. I forget "It is nice to sit down at the table and have conversations." And her eggs look pretty good to me:)

Reluctant writers find the pigeon series books a great support.  Sometimes, "No means NO!"
Student's Words:  Can I eat bacon for dinner?
Student's Explanation:  Sometimes my family has breakfast at dinner.
My Thinking:  Mmmm!  We do too!
My Ah Ha Moments:  This student was a reluctant writer. She is building her stamina by starting with her illustrations first to support her text.  I have validated her illustrations and details a different way this time.  She is writing.  Food for thought (no pun intended):  By looking at writing through Katie Wood Ray's lens, I was empowering a reluctant writer to write and teaching her how to use illustrations in a different way to support the text!

Student's Words:  Did you let the pigeon eat break(fast)?  NO.
My Thinking:  When I sat down to conference with her for the last time on this book, I was surprised that there weren't any pictures.  But wait!  Look closely and you can tell there are illustrations on the back of the page.  Hmmm . . . Wonder why?  Keep reading:)

Student's Words:  I want some breakfast.
Student's Explanation:  He is sad.  He is outside the house now.  He is looking in the windows and really wanted that breakfast.
My Thinking:  How cool is that?  She put her illustration on the back of the page instead of getting a new page.  It's like the pigeon is really on the outside of the book looking in!  She used the concept of making the pigeon larger to bring him to the front of the page with the house in the background.  She is making a great attempt to have windows to show that he was looking inside the house and turns around to make one more attempt with the reader to give him "some breakfast."  No, the table is not in the window but rather below it.  To her that is how you draw that concept.  With time, she will understand those artistic techniques.  But WOW!!! My reluctant writer wrote a fantastic story supported with illustrations that are detailed for an emergent writer.  And guess what,  her stamina for writing and  to write more continued throughout the year.
My Ah Ha Moments:  Teachers need to continually evaluate their teaching practices.  We need to search for professional books that support and challenge our current thinking about what writing is.  We need to go with that natural "gut" instinct on what is developmentally appropriate for young children.  Reading is FUN!  Making books is FUN! In Pictures and in Words does just that.  Now imagine this student's story if I had taken away her choice to use markers, color, and illustrations.  
And here is one of my favorite "almost wordless" picture books to show illustrations.  It is absolutely beautiful.

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.  Click (Here) to see the book on Amazon and for a look inside the book.  You could teach so many "ideas" for illustrating on every page.  We look at the book as a whole, but also as individual pages.    My students say, "Awww! Oooohhhh!  He is a great illustrator."  I agree!

Thanks for stopping by!  If you haven't purchased In Pictures and In Words yet, it's not too late.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas Giveaway

I am so excited to meet many of the bloggers that I respect so much at the Vegas Teacher Blogger Meet Up on July 10, 2012.  I will be one of the sponsors for this event and am giving away 5 CD Bundles that are geared for K-1st grade.  


The "songs-multimedia files-books-activities" are from my CD "Growing Dendrites with Kathy Griffin" (c) Copyright 2011. Here is what is included on each CD.


#1 Letter Sound CD Bundle (TpT Value:  $20.00)   
Includes the Following:


*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 11 X 17 big book, 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.

*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 11 X 17 big book 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder 
Click (here) for a prior post about this song.


# 2 I Know My Vowels CD Bundle (TpT Value: $15.00)  
Includes the Following:
*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
* I Know My Vowels Activity Game Pack
Click ( here ) for a prior blog post about this song.


# 3 Blends and Digraph CD Bundle (TpT Value: $20.00)  
Includes the Following:

*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.



*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.


# 4 It's Great to Be Reading CD Bundle  (TpT Value: $25.00)  
Includes the Following:
It's Great to be Reading Short Vowels

*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
*It's Great to Be Reading (Short Vowels) Activity Game Pack
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.


It's Great to be Reading (Harder Word Families)

*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.


It's Great to be Reading (Power Point version)
*Teachers can adapt this Power Point with clipart or student pictures to support the reading strategy, "Look at the picture."
*Open version song to insert in Power Point
Not offered on TpT


# 5 Word Families CD Pack (TpT Value: $25.00) 
Includes the Following:


*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
*Five Word Families Activity Game Pack
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.




*Multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer
*mpeg 4 file for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone
*mp3 song
*Book Set that goes with the song which includes an 8 1/2 x11 class book, a half-size book for guided reading or book boxes, and a song sheet page for a take-home reading folder
Click (here) for a prior blog post about this song.


For more information about the Vegas Teacher Blogger Meet Up click (here).
I hope to see you in Vegas!











Saturday, June 23, 2012

Connecting Pictures and Words in Writer's Workshop

I was so excited to see that some of my favorite bloggers are doing a book study on In Pictures and in Words by Katie Wood Ray.  As I present at different conferences across the United States,  I am consistently asked, "How do you keep your students from spending so much time on their illustrations?  Do you limit their time?  Do you make your students write first then let them draw pictures."  I have always had my own philosophy on this subject but was so relieved when a good friend recommended this book about 1 1/2 years ago.  I read the entire book while I was traveling through airports to present at a conference in North Carolina.  If you haven't had a chance to read this book, it is a "must read" for the early childhood teacher. 


Dee Dee Willis is hosting the first 6 chapters and has links to other bloggers who are participating.  Click here to view her comments.  


My students love Mo Williems and the "Pigeon" series books.  For the past 3 years, we have made a class book based on his work.  This is a glimpse inside our collaborative class book after I had read In Pictures and in Words.  I looked at the book from an entirely different perspective, and we focused on how Mo Williems used illustrations to give voice and tone to his books.  Here is our class version.  I always begin by using a mentor text to help support the concepts I am teaching.  The pigeon series books are developmentally appropriate for Kindergarten and 1st grade students to use as mentor texts to foster their love and skill of making books and using illustrations to support the text and tell the story.  We brainstormed a list of what we might not want the pigeon to do.  I charted the list together as a class.  We then voted on what our topic would be.  The students knew they would be using their Writer's Workshop time to create their own pigeon books, so this helped relieve any anxiety about their idea not being chosen.  Here is a picture of our list.
Brainstorming Ideas
Title Page that I illustrated.  
Upon reflection, I should have turned that over to the students.   Keep on reading and you will see why.  They were much more detailed in their illustrations:)
I love the point of view that these 2 students took as a view of our classroom.  It is as though you are looking down into our room.  They said that they want everyone to see how we sit at our tables.  Notice the table legs and the 3 hooks on each side of the table.  Those hooks are part of our table.  I was amazed at their detailed drawings.
What do you notice about this drawing?  These students drew the pigeon peering in from the side.  I asked why?  Their response - because he is trying to listen to what they are saying.  He is being sneaky.  We had actually discussed why the author sometimes placed only part of the pigeon within the readers' view.
We talked a lot about how illustrators use the eyes to show emotion.  Notice the pigeon's eye as he tries to suggest that they take a detour from Readers' Workshop and go to Walmart.  Raz-Kids is a computer program my students use for online reading.  See the computer in the background to support the text.  Also notice that speech bubbles also play an important part of this book.  We always discuss how some authors use speech bubbles to show conversation or add interesting details.

I love this picture.  What do you notice about the drawing ?  The clothes are on actual hangers like they would be in the store.  The pigeon is covered in snow to support that he is freezing.  
This little girl had just had a baby sister, so she could totally relate to stinky diapers.   At first I thought she drew a shopping cart, but upon listening to these students' explanation, that is actually a changing table with the baby on it.  The family is standing away saying, "Shoo, shoo!"  Pictures are such an important part of young children's stories.  We need to listen to why they drew the pictures instead of always saying, "Read me your story."  Look what I would have missed had I not been made aware of this.  Thank you Katie Wood Ray for confirming this for me.
This is actually an add on page by a student who struggles with writing.  He was wanting to show other things that were at Walmart that the pigeon might suggest.  The pigeon is looking at the meat counter.  Notice the pigeon if facing away from us and we are looking at a back view of the pigeon.  Meat is on the counter and in the shelves and there is a man behind the counter ready to help.
Do you recognize this illustration?  I didn't at first.  I wasn't paying close attention to the details of their interpretation of what Walmart looks like.  Those are the actual aisle shopping check out lanes with the numbers above each aisle.  Amazing.  I wouldn't have thought of that.
These little stinkers actually slipped in something to get back at me for being gone to the conference.  This is a drawing of our classroom with a view of the front part of our classroom.  Notice the right side at the top.  That is a whiteboard.  They wrote the name of the substitute who had taken my place while I was presenting at the North Carolina conference.  This little girl was not happy when I was gone.  Notice all of the details of our room.  The gray is our Smart Board with our Secret Story Phonics beside it.   They have included part of the whiteboard where the date is always written.  Three girls worked on this picture and I really enjoyed their conversations while illustrating this page.  Sometimes we must take the time to listen as they work.
Notice the point of view from the pigeon.  My students said that he kept popping in and out to try to talk the reader into taking the money.
Being persuasive takes on a whole new meaning here.  Smelly markers are a special treat in my class only used for interactive writing.  These students were really trying to make us say yes to the pigeon.  Notice the pigeon above.  I asked about this detail in their drawings.  Normally, I would have assumed the black part was an error or a cover up mistake. Their response - He is starting to get frustrated and is flapping his wings up and down like when we throw a fit with our parents and jump up and down.  The black is because he is doing it so fast. (Side bar:  We had role played what a fit looked like and of course my students' dramatic portrayal of their fits were very comical and most likely spot-on:)
What do you notice here?  I asked what is happening on this page?  Their response - The pigeon is starting to get more upset and is popping in and out of the book saying please.  Wow - That's a lot of "please" words but represented by pictures.  
Wow again!!!  Look at the pigeon's blood shot eyes and the steam coming off of his head.  He is also at different views on the page.  These boys said they wanted him to look like he was really upset that he wasn't getting to go to Walmart.  They said he was sooooo loud that everyone in the class had to cover their ears.  I will never ever forget this illustration.  There is power in their pictures and their words.
And we end our story with a more calm pigeon and a last view of our classroom.  You can tell my students love their Smart  Board:)  It is shown as black here with our Secret Story Phonics behind it.
I compared this version to my previous year's version, and I was amazed at the difference between the illustration details after I put Katie Wood Ray's book to practice in my classroom instruction.  


So how do I build stamina in getting my children to write?  Model, model, model my enthusiasm and do "Think Alouds about Illustrations" just like I do "Think Alouds" about the comprehension of text.  Validate the pictures in the story and give them many examples of mentor text to view and discuss.  Give your students time to draw and confirm their attempts at the story telling process.  Let them enjoy "making books."  A picture IS worth 1000 words.  


I referenced The Secret Stories by Katie Garner in my students' illustrations.  It is a FANTASTIC phonics' program.  For more information click (HERE).  For The Secret Stories Face Book page click (HERE).


Thanks for stopping by.  My next blog post will show a student sample of a pigeon book that happened during their individual writing time.  And you will LOVE her attention to details in her illustrations.  Feel free to leave comments, questions, or your thoughts about what you noticed.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In Pictures and In Words

Time flies when you are busy, and I can't think of a busier time than the last 2 weeks of school.  I also decided to teach a master's class at OSU during those last 2 weeks.  Needless to say, I have been too busy to blog.  I did want to share my students' culminating art project where they painted a mural to hang around our room to finish our Ocean Inquiry Nonfiction Study.   The class decided to turn our classroom into the "Ocean Express" since we did a train inquiry project last December and ended it with the Polar Express.   I had such a creative class this year and the Ocean Express was their idea.


We brainstormed what should be in our room, and as always, I used it as an opportunity to make a list.  The students then divided the area of the rooms into parts and wrote their ideas on post-it-notes.  They put their post-it-notes under the titles of "Island" "Ocean" "Submarine" and "Sound Effects."  They chose great categories.  Instead of the normal end of the year activities, we stayed busy up until the last day of school building our Ocean Express.  I put butcher paper up on our fences outside, so the painting would be less messy.  So all 25 children had a paintbrush and paints and we created our artwork for the room.  Since it was a hot day, it dried very quickly.  The wind did interfere just a bit, but then we learned a little science lesson about how to secure our murals and protect them from the wind.  I am sure it was quite comical from afar to watch as I got tangled up in the whole painted mess, but we quickly problem-solved that situation:)


Here are the pictures of the perimeter of my classroom.  We moved the chairs and tables to the sides and created a wide area.  We brought beach towels, our favorite books, and just enjoyed our relaxing ocean.  If you haven't seen the Disney Ocean movie, it is an amazing nonfiction movie with great ocean sound effects.  We watched about 15 minutes a day over a period of 2 weeks while we had a snack.  All in all it was a wonderful inquiry unit of study, and I am looking forward to implementing more of this type of study in my class next year.  And when the school bell rang and my darling little 1st graders left my room for the summer, I found it hard to take down all of their artwork off our walls.  It was truly a collaborative project that spanned over 6 weeks of time where we learned so much about each other's learning styles, preferences, and interests and the ocean.  It was a calming end of the year activity where learning continued and authentic children's work appeared everywhere.  

Nonfiction Research Project with Student Generated Facts 
"In Pictures and in Words" - My favorite book - Keep reading below.

Our Island
More of our Island - Working Collaboratively 

Working together sharing time, space, and materials.  Isn't that the early childhood way?

More "In Pictures and In Words"  See below for a book study.

The students chose a submarine to paint for our classroom to take a pretend ride on just like they did for the Polar Express.  6 boys painted side by side to accomplish this task.  I love the details.  Can I say book study again? LOL!  Keep reading . . . 

We needed 2 submarines to go along our wall.  Plus painting a submarine is a lot of fun.  The girls joined in to help finish this one.  
My 2011-2012 first graders taught me so much about creativity and learning this year.  However, it did start by reading the book "In Pictures and In Words" by Katie Wood Ray during the 2010-2011 school year.  Here is what the book looks like:
Click HERE to find the book on Amazon.
There are several amazing Kindergarten bloggers that are doing a book study starting in a couple of weeks over this book.  I highly recommend it.  In fact, I believe it is a crucial "must read" in today's educational climate when play and creativity are being pushed aside for "more rigorous academics."  Can you imagine an Eric Carle book without pictures and color? This book empowered me to see the value in children's drawings and learn how to take those drawings to help all children became writers.

So check out Deanna Jump's blog (yes the famous one:) for a timeline of the book study along with the other amazing bloggers who will be leading it.  I plan on posting some of the pieces of my students' writing samples and what I learned from their drawings as I poured over them the last 1 1/2 years.  I look forward to learning more from this collaborative group.

Here is the list of other teachers hosting the book study:

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten
Kathleen at Growing Kinders
Primary Graffiti
Kindergals - Kim Adsit and her daughter Megan

What else do I have planned for this summer?
*RELAX for a few weeks
*Present at the Las Vegas DI (Differentiating Instruction) Conference July 10 & 11
*Present at the Midwest DI (Differentiating Instruction) Conference in Chicago July 24
*Present at the I Teach 1st Conference in Chicago on July 25
*Present at Frogstreet Summer Splash in Dallas, Texas on July 14
*Present at the OECTA Summer Conference Workshop in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, July 21st.
*Make new materials for Teachers Pay Teachers to complement Growing Dendrites with Kathy Griffin - and a few new surprises.
*LOVE, ENJOY, and SPEND QUALITY TIME with my new grandson (almost 8 months old!)
*Plan my daughter's beautiful wedding that will take place on September 15th.
*Celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary in July!
*And last but not least, clean my office:)

Posts to watch for this summer:
*More examples of anchor charts
*More math (yes I am venturing over to that area too!)
*More Common Core Nonfiction ideas and plans of study
*More organizational tips on how to organize all of my games for differentiating literacy centers and guided reading.
*More technology, Smart Board, iPads, and application to our classrooms.
*More strategies for keep our young students involved and engaged during your group time.
*More posts about empowering YOU to be proactive in your management program.  It's the little things that make a BIG impact on creating a positive, respectful, and engaging learning environment.
*And of course - more singing and movement ideas to get your students ready to learn.

Most importantly - I would love to hear from you!  What are you looking for this summer to get you motivated and ready for your classroom.  There is nothing better than teachers collaborating with each other to solve problems and find solutions.

My favorite song to get me going:  Firework (Glee version).  I listen to it all the time.  Remember, you are a FIREWORK in your classroom and for your profession.

Don't forget to click on the follow me button so you will not miss all of the excitement!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  Have a happy, safe, relaxing, and amazing summer!