Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drawing and Max Brand

Look what we did after I decided to immediately apply conference learning, sketched the class guinea pig.  One reason I attend the Dublin Lit Conference each year is to hopefully see Max Brand.  Max Brand is a classroom teacher and the author of Practical Fluency and Word Savvy.  Max and I met while participating in a study group through The Literacy Connection a few years ago.  I like listening to Max speak because he is a global thinker.  Following Max's thinking and speaking is like a chat on twitter, great ideas flowing fast.

This year Max was speaking about Drawing.  Drawing is at the heart of all writing if we encourage and allow it.  I often think it's acceptable for emerging writers and then easy to be overlooked after that.  Max began our  session by sharing - "drawing starts by showing our students, teaching them how to look".   Max starts with noticing by looking at shapes.  This is a huge part of geometry in kindergarten and I love the connection to literacy.  Max uses books the children love to read as mentor text; No David and Piggie and Elephant Series are a couple of ideas.  He also says we have to reinforce sketching as a top to bottom act.  He recommended using Eric Carle's book, Head to Toe as a reference point for helping children make the switch from bottom up to top down with drawing, number, and letter formation.  As we have motor plans for letters or numbers Max has developed some key vocabulary to guide drawing.  For example, "place a dot at the top, go around and connect."  Here we would have a circle.  

Max draws each day with his students, five to ten minutes.  Students have sketch books or a dry erase board when they draw.  Max doesn't like stick figures and gets students started at the beginning of the year with round figures which make it easier to show action.  I loved this quote, "We need to pay more attention to details by paying attention to drawing action."  Max spends time drawing spirals, sunshines, bubbles to show various ways to include details.  

Max shared some great sketching vocabulary.  How should we draw it?  What shape do you see?  Where will we start?  Which way do I go?  Read  me your drawing?  What was challenging?  What will you work on?  When you see students doing something you've talked about here is a smart Max comment, " I'm so happy you have taken responsibility for your own learning."  

Then as in true Max fashion I will leave you with some global thinking.
-Phonics have become too dominate.
-We've gotten away from shared learning - shared reading and shared writing.


  1. Your last sentence is so strong and powerful-I want to bring it back and never lose it again.

  2. Max might like Little Bird Tales, where kids can draw, then literally read the drawing outloud while recording
    it to their pictures! LittleBirdTales.com allows children to draw (or import) pictures, then add text and record their voice to each page, creating a digital book that can be easily shared via email, embedded to a website or put on a disc! It was designed for young children and many preschool and kinder students can use it without much help at all (you may need to upload the pictures for them if they don't draw them).

    Try it out!