February 02, 2016

The Story of Ruby Bridges: Part 2

This week in our Writer's Workshop, we're learning and reviewing many skills that I hope will benefit my students for the rest of their lives. 

As you know, the boys and girls are learning about responding to higher level questions about the texts we've read, which will include providing evidence from the text to support ideas and opinions. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, we're using The Story of Ruby Bridges as our mentor text for this task. It's a very rich text that generates all kinds of thick questions.  

We're focusing on the following key habits: 
  • using a highlighter to highlight the important information or evidence you want to cite from an article 
  • writing (reasonably) small, but not too small, to fit your response in the designated space(helps with EQAO) 
  • opening your paragraph/answer by stating your purpose for writing: Today I'm going to tell you... or restate the question in an affirmative way (e.g. Ruby Bridges is brave.) 
  • giving evidence from the text by stating: I know this because...
  • proofreading your work to see that it addresses the question posed, makes sense and is error-free
It's time to write and do so in a meaningful, real-life way. Spelling, grammar and punctuation always count of course, and I'm a real stickler for them, but now we want students to focus on expressing their ideas and communicating in writing for a specific purpose. In other words, the expectation is that students have these skills (basic spelling and punctuation) mastered for their grade-level, know how to find the spelling of unfamiliar words when needed and are now learning to apply those skills in their assignments.   

This is kind of a "tipping point" where students are now expected to know how to spell, proofread and use punctuation effectively. Now we're moving to more "grown up" writing, like the kind you do at the Junior level and beyond. 

Pretty soon, we'll move on to creative writing. Students will learn exciting new and interesting ways to start theie paragraphs (called "hooks"). We're going to alternate between creative and non-fiction writing right through until June, but our focus will be on the non-fiction component, which research indicates is an essential skill for the 21st century student.

If you're finding your child is not ready to make that leap because their spelling and reading skills are still at a developing stage, I recommend you to do the following each night:
  • read for at least 20 minutes with your child, asking questions to monitor comprehension (click here for a printable set of questions) 
  • test them on their No-Excuse words nightly, have a good old fashioned spelling test (there's a list at the top of the blog home-page) 
  • complete extra practice workbooks from the teacher supply stores or Costco (they seem to be in stock all the time)
The Story of Ruby Bridges is the perfect book to use in helping young writers develop their critical thinking skills.  When we teach children to think deeply about the texts they read, they begin to transfer those skills to the texts they write.  


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