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Observations from 10/28/09

elovejoy's picture

Observations from 10/28/09

Emily Lovejoy


In progress:

Today I was in Teacher A's 5th/6th grade class.  The students watched R.L. Stine's webcast!  Afterwards, they had a discussion about what they learned.  Students found it strange that Stine starts his stories after thinking of a title.  For them, they usually write the story and then title it after the writing is done.  R.L. said that titles often just "pop into his head."  One student asked how does this happen?  What is happening in the brain that makes people think of certain things?  Why do we think what we think? And what is going on in the brain when dealing with creativity?  Additionally, in the webcast Stine said that he doesn't write about his life.  But, Teacher A tells her students to write about what they know.  So, why does he use a writing method that is different?


Attending this class was particularly interesting to me because it was inquiry and discovery based, but it was the first lesson that I had observed in this classroom that was not science related inquiry.  When I asked the students about their thoughts on this type of writing process versus the science that I had also seen, many students said that they like to express their feelings through writing and drawing.  One student said that writing stories allows them to be more creative. 


Later on, Teacher A described to me how she teaches the students mini-lessons on some good skills for reading and writing.  Then, she has them write.  She then teaches them grammar and pieces of craft writing based on the things they are writing, and the things that they are having difficulty with.  For example, if a student is having difficulty with punctuation, they will get out a book that he or she is currently reading and use it as a model for how to use certain types of punctuation.  Another way that Teacher A teaches the students to be better readers and writers is by having reading workshops.  They acquire non-fiction and fiction reading skills.  In these literature circles, the students have a conversation between the reader and author.  Additionally, the teacher choses literature based on what they are currently learning.  For example, during the brain and behavior lesson, some students are reading a non-fiction book about Phineas Gage.  It is very neat to see the sciences and writing and reading tied together so nicely.