Another beautiful fall day...who knew that October could be sunny, crisp and beautiful. After spending 43 years in a classroom in October, I just never had the chance to experience the beauty of fall. As I walked to the front door of another school, I knew it was going to be another great day and the classroom experience did not disappoint me.
The children entered the classroom to the music playing in the background. They gathered their writing materials and headed to their table groups for the focus lesson. The teacher began with the teaching point on the smart board: "Informational writers purposefully decide which text features to include on a page." Many of the students already knew about text features because they had been studying them for several weeks in reading as well as in writing. However, the teacher wanted to be sure they knew the purpose behind each of the features. To do this she started a t-chart...feature on one side and purpose on the other. She had listed: bold print, color print, italics, bullets. Each one was discussed individually with table groups talking in between the features. They copied the t-chart into their notebooks for future reference and went off to work on their informational writing.
I had the chance to sit beside several writers. One of them was Ally who was working on her book about John Cabot. She was in the publishing phase of her writing. We talked about her process of putting the book together. She had started off thinking this would become a speech because that is what they had done last year. She had taken notes on her subject on note cards and sticky notes to later transfer into her speech. When she realized it was to be a book, her focus switched. Now she took those notecards and put them into groups and organized them into similar topics. She then used those topics to structure her book...they became chapters.
Another one of the writers I talked to was Faith. She, too, was in the process of publishing her book. She told me she had first boxed out her ideas for the book and used that as her plan on starting her writing. Later she took those boxed topics to make her Table of Contents. As she did that, she realized that she had some topics that just didn't have enough material to become a whole chapter. In order to still use those interesting facts she simply made a new chapter entitled: Fun Facts.
Later, as I was walking back to my car feeling the crisp fall breeze, I was thinking of all the smart thinking that was going on inside the building. The author-talk that these fifth graders produced is just so amazing. I just love it when I leave their room and they shout out, "Bye, Mrs. Douglas. See you next week!" What a wonderful day!