I am joining a WHOLE bunch of wonderful bloggers in this Bright Ideas Link Up!
We are all discussing some great ideas we use in our classrooms.
Our Bright Idea will hopefully help you with our Back to School Gift and also encourage your little learners to get excited about Writing!
We started Lucy Calkins a few years ago in my district. It takes a little time to get used to teaching Writing the "Lucy" way - but once you do you will see that there are so many lessons that you'll love! I have also noticed the more I use her manuals and really try to teach like her, the more I see how independent my little ones can be during
One of the COOL ideas Lucy talks about in her book is having kids keep Tiny Topic notebook / notepads with them at all times. Her thought is that if every child carries around this notepad they will be able to record ideas for their writing. Lucy allows students to write about whatever they want to. The kids generate the topic within the genre of writing you are working on. This was new for me! Over the years I would give my students a topic and they all wrote about the same thing. For example, I would have them all write a persuasive piece on the "Perfect Pet". Lucy argues that kids will write more and be better writers when they take full ownership of their piece of writing. This leads us to the Tiny Topics Notepad and our Bright Idea.
At first I tried to make my own Tiny Topic Notepads and I liked them, but they were only made out of paper. We needed something more durable, so then I found these little tiny notebooks at Office Max. They were 3 for $1.00 so I bought enough for two years and to share with some of my colleagues. So the tiny topic notepad isn't exactly my own idea, the credit must be given to Lucy of course..
BUT how I presented it to the kids was my idea!
The week before Open House is our first week back to school in my district.. so the kids are learning routines, procedures and getting ready to learn. That first week back we talked about IDEAS in Writing and how authors come up with ideas. I read aloud My Rotten Red - Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco and we talked about our own siblings. I read a mentor text that Lucy uses in her Reading and Writing units - Owl Moon by Jan Yolen and we talked about both stories and how we could make connections. I also would come to school that first week and WRITE in my very own Tiny Topics notepad - waiting anxiously for any one of my students to just ask me what I was doing. Finally after two days of "secretly" modeling my own "jotting down of ideas," Drew asked what I was doing. He said out loud that my notebook was cool because it was so tiny. I shared with him that I write important ideas, thoughts and events in my tiny notebook. I explained that I use these ideas to write journal entries,
lessons, and stories. Other kids were listening to our conversation and they
started asking questions and sharing about a journal they have at home.
VOILA ~ just like Lucy said - the interest was there!
SO the next week at OPEN HOUSE all of my students were surprised when they walked in and found their VERY OWN tiny topics notebook in a little bag on their desk. I also included a cute ocean themed stuffed animal - to go along with our beach themed classroom. That was their new Reading Buddy that they could keep and take home or leave in class for whenever they were reading. The Reading buddies were also a hit and they treated them with extra special care throughout the year.
After Open House the kids were toting around their Tiny Topics notepads in the little bright bag I gave them or in their READING book bag. I saw kids jotting ideas and really getting excited about writing! Parents shared with me that these
notebooks were a big hit!
Last year I also purchased these book bags which were a splurge but I wanted a safe place for my books to be kept for their journey home each night. The kids all took very good care of the bags and they were able to put their books and Reading buddy in the bag.
At times my students would keep their Tiny Topics notepad in their big book bags just in case they were reading a book that triggered an idea for them to write about.