Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wonderful Word Wednesday

 I remember at a very young age learning about words.  I always anticipated going to my grandmother's house and walking down into her basement to choose my next Thornton Burgess book to read. She would always tell me just a little bit about the book to get me excited. I think my favorite one was The Adventures of Poor Mrs. Quack.  On a side note, it is now available in eBook and Google books  but I loved knowing that I held her book from when she was a little girl.  Now her books are on my bookshelf at my house, and I have shared them with my own children.  My grandmother is 94 and we still talk about books-I am very lucky.

In our classroom, we will celebrate words every day of the week but on Wednesdays we will start our day with a word activity. As I look back over my 20 years of teaching, I noticed a few common traits about my students' writing.  First of all students enjoy writing more when they have a choice. That was easy for me I believe strongly that students need many choice throughout the school day.  Even if the choice is sitting on pillows, on the floor instead of their chair, on our bench by the window, or working at the lowered round table.

Second students use the words they know in their writing. This is when I challenged myself to make learning about words fun so the students will want to use them.  I decided to start by using the space in my classroom differently.  Everyone was using word walls, and I started using our wall space for pushing students knowledge of new words.  I had success with collecting greeting cards that played on words.  For example: the card in the upper right corner of the photo above with the little boy in his jeans holding on to his father's fingers says inside: Thanks dad for a great pair of genes. I bought this card around Father's day.  I will share new cards every Wednesday and typically the students will begin to bring in cards that they find in stores to also share with our class. One of the highlights of last year was when a mother told me her son wanted to go to the Hallmark store to look at greeting cards. PRICELESS!

Lastly, we bury boring words in the month of October every year. When the school year starts, we start with creating a list of boring, worn out words. We collect these boring words as the students share during writing workshop.  In October, each student chooses a word they want to bury and write it on a ghost in chalk then on the sun they have to find at least three new words to use instead of the buried word.  Then we will hang the cards on the cabinets, and the students will have a visual thesaurus to use all year in their writing

On a personal note, another reason I started my blog was because of a conversation that I was lucky enough to have with James Preller about the importance of word choice in writing when he visited my school in April 2009. He encouraged me to start a blog and wrote about it on his blog James Preller's Blog.  Thanks James for the your encouragement I finally got the courage.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see this Wednesday feature. So funny, the story about your grandmother. I went to my grandmother's attic every week to choose my new Nancy Drew book!