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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chapter 3 Writing & Illustrating as Parallel Composing Processes

Momentum---boy do we ever need that after coming back from a break or even a weekend or for some students the next day...
I think it is especially important for me as a teacher to remember that "readers don't see the process behind what they read." When I assume that a student hasn't done what I asked them to, I need to take a closer look & remind myself of all the little decisions that were made in order for the writer to produce one sentence or composition. I also need to emphasize to my kids to take their ideas home with them, think them over, talk them over with family, etc...I also need to pay special attention to the traces of their eraser marks & question them on what changed their mind.
Teaching the process of writing/composing is really more like suggesting you try something and if you don't like it, find your own way. No one composes exactly the same way every time. Our brains are simply more complex than that! So for me to try to teach my kids to compose exactly like me is a ridiculous notion. We are different people with different experiences & our minds work differently. Basically, this is how I sometimes do it...find a way that works for you & don't be afraid to try something different each time you compose.
Writing & Illustrating as Parallel Composing Processes
I love the paragraph on page 40 where Ray uses the exact same paragraph with words marked through to describe illustrating.
"Anyone who writes illustrates knows that at some point, you think ahead about what you are going to write draw or picture somehow. You may capture this thinking in great detail wit sketches & the like, or you  may capture it with just a little detail or with no detail at all, preferring just to sit down & see what happens after all your thinking. And at some other point, you have to start putting words lines & shapes & colors on paper, and invariably when you do, you'll want to change some of those words lines & shapes & colors. Also invariably, you'll find things aren't quite right--misspelled words, punctuation out of place, typos a line that's a little too heavy, ora color that's not quite the right shade. You'll fix those when you see them. Finally, depending on your plans for the writing illustration, you'll do something with it when you feel it's finished." This is an excellent way to illustrate her point that writing & illustrating are both composition.
Page 42 reminds me of my young writers' limited experiences. This is another reason why a student might write over the same topic over & over. They are only an expert on that one topic. Some days when I am hoping to read a fantastic story I have to remind myself that they don't have the same experiences I have had. Imaginary stories are especially difficult for kindergartners. Some of them can't "imagine". When I suggest all the crazy ideas they could write about many will take the exact example I used & write about that, so then I end up with 5 stories about the same thing. It is very easy to influence them in deciding their topics although I don't mean to. This does not lend to "teaching them to intend their own acts."

For the coming year, I would like to focus more on the illustrations in books & discuss the techniques authors used. This year I did talk to students about various writing structures- we looked closely at how authors might choose to write their text in a straight line, on different parts of the page, in a spiral, etc...I had one pair of girls who coauthored a book about flowers for mom who wrote the entire 5 page book in spirals that looped back to the first word of their sentence, I was so impressed it literally took my breath away! This reminds me of pg 50- the emphasis that text can be incorporated into the illustration & Daniel's snake zzzzz sound. :)

This year I allowed my students to coauthor a book. This was a difficult task for them. Some of them still weren't quite understanding that it is okay to look at a book for ideas but not copy it. Then other pairs had only one student doing most of the work. It was interesting to watch though. They were surprisingly engaged & focused on the task at hand.

Pg 45 talks about Ella's "meticulous color"....GRR major fail on my part! I always had them wait until they were finished drawing to color their pictures. Color may be a key to their forward motion!!!!!!! I need to let them color when they feel they need to!!!! It is a huge decision for them! WOW Ella's Book about Dresses & Weddings is very advanced! Look at those music notes at the top of page 49!!! WOW!!!

The list of sites provided for looking up information about the process of composing is awesome! I can't wait to check it out & share the information with my kids!


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