Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Talking, Drawing, Writing


Talking, Drawing, Writing by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe answered some very important questions for me as a teacher of writing. As I was reading Ray, Cleveland, and Glover, I kept asking myself about the writing that happens before any formation of letters. I know from teaching kindergarten and first grade for many years that drawing is children's first form of written communication. Matt Glover touches on drawing as a unit of study to convey meaning and led me to this book.

What a fabulous resource for kindergarten teachers and those interested in valuing the language of drawing further. As Horn and Giacobbe write, "drawing is not rehearsal for writing: drawing is writing." To help foster the drawing Horn and Giacobbe encourage teachers and guide them to think about storytelling.

Here are four reasons storytelling is an important component to a writing workshop.
-storytelling is a natural part of a child's life and it "honors them for who they are"
-storytelling builds community
-"telling stories acknowledges talk as having an essential place at the core of writing"
-students can learn about writing/craft with support before writing it down on paper

Students begin the year recording their stories in a Drawing and Writing book. One of the big reasons they begin with a bound book with blank drawing pages is often the students stories are recorded in one drawing. Younger students need to learn how to extend a story over time and space, which leads them to writing their own picture books later in the year. Horn and Giacobbe realized as they were working with students that they valued drawing but not in the same way as writing. They weren't ever spending time fostering and guiding the drawing. Over time, they began to do mini lessons on drawing. The purpose of the mini lessons were to help the children learn to draw respresentationally, drawings that looked real. Since their stories are real, we know illustrators match their illustrations to the text.

They share with us these four important reasons for drawing with young students. These are taken right from the book...
1. drawing is one primal way that beginning writers represent and understand meaning.
2. drawing is a way for children to be heard.
3. drawing is a medium through which children develop language.
4. drawing allows children to go deeper into their stories.

I'm really looking forward to doing mini lessons on drawing in a sketch book with the students to help foster their writing this coming year. One thing I need to acquire is multicultural drawing tools to help the representational drawing be more accurate.

This book is a resource filled with mini lessons to help guide my teaching this coming school year. It will require me to observe closely at the students needs and record my observations which their chapter on assessment gave me some forms to consider using and things to look for in student writing. Horn and Giacobbe are masters at looking student work and identifying what students know about craft and conventions. Then based on these observations they are able to decide what students need to learn and what the teacher needs to teach.

This book guides you through a school year and also discusses students writing booklets, their own picture books about mid-year. After booklets are introduced the mini lessons focus more on the craft of writing. The authors caution the reader and let us know this book is and was not written as a curriculum for teachers. The lessons are not organized in a concrete manner to follow day to day. It's organized with thought and the need for each classroom teacher to observe and recognize what individual and group needs are for their writers.

I feel this book combined with the other three books I have read has prepared me to teach emergent writers again and I can't wait to see their progression during the school.

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