Friday, November 8, 2013

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Institute for Excellence in Writing.  Wordy Title.
Okay, so I've raved about it before, but I want to say again that I absolutely LOVE this writing program. It is so academically rich with teaching how to write.  The DVD lessons at times can be a little long, but Katie and Noah seem to stay interested and entertained by them.  And they are acquiring great skills by following at outline for how to write certain methods.  We are doing Student Writing Intensive A at the rate of completing a full lesson every 1-2 weeks.  If you don't know anything about the program and have never been to one of the workshops, I HIGHLY recommend buying or borrowing (like I did) the Teaching Writing Seminar on DVD.  In all honesty, you COULD teach this method by just watching that seminar, quite easily in fact, but it would be difficult to use their writing intensives without having seen the DVD seminar.  That's how good it is.  I am a certified elementary school teacher, and what I learned from that seminar was crucial to our success with this program, it's not just a gimmick!  Now, I love the "set" of lessons with the DVD lessons for the kids, because honestly it does a much more thorough job than I would do of teaching the material in an interesting way, and the kids get to listen to someone besides me, and I know they are getting a HIGH quality level of instruction in writing.
Let's face it...being able to write (all genres, clearly, concisely, and with correct grammar) is the foundation for success in any higher education. In all subject areas, not just for English majors and professional writers. I am so thankful I found this program for 4/5th grade when they are really just beginning to be capable of understanding some higher level styles and information for writing and writing "about."

We use a separate curriculum for Language and Grammar.  Because as the teaching seminar points out, writing and grammar/spelling are two completely different things.  Do NOT try to teach spelling while you are trying to get a child to write a story.  Two totally different sides of the brain and slows down creativity and flow in an extreme way!  (same thing goes for HANDwriting and Writing!) I could go on and on about all the wonderful things I learned from that DVD but I will stop! ha ha.  Language/Grammar and Writing WILL all mesh together, but like learning to talk on a cell phone and drive, they can't be learned simultaneously.

At the beginning of the year they were creating a "key-word outline" by taking apart informational or other texts sentence by sentence.  They would then test this outline by retelling the information or story by only using their outline.  This helped them be sure they were choosing quality terms and words from the original text for their outline.  They would then re-write the paragraph, using their keyword outline.  What wonderful practice for essay, research papers, and public speaking!  Along the way they were introduced to stylistic techniques (with mini lessons to show how to use and brainstorm lists to draw from) to include in their rewriting.  Things like "use a "who or which" clause, or include a quality adverb.  They also started a banned words list, so they are no longer allowed to use the word "said" but must choose a better and more interesting word to use instead.  By making all of these things a requirement, although they are searching and putting them in that way, these techniques will become more of a habit and they will easily find ways to do it more independently.  They both mostly are able to fit all the requirements in on their own, but sometimes I do give them some hints or help in suggesting where might be a good place to include them in their rough draft.

So the past couple of weeks they have been working on a re-write of the well-known story, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"  Another strategy that IEW uses, is allowing students to use other material to draw from for inspiration.  I agreed when watching their teacher training sessions that it's really unfair to expect an elementary student to be able to completely come up with an idea to write about from absolutely nothing. In the grand scheme of life, they've only been reading less than five years (generally speaking) and don't have very much life experience to draw from.  So teaching ways to enhance a story that is given to them, summarize, learn stylistic techniques and practice them on material that is given to them, will prepare them to be really good story-tellers, and THEN they can start making even mundane every day things into good stories.  It's hard for a kid to make a trip to the store into anything more than a few sentences without tools in their possession to inspire them to make it good.

This story also included several paragraphs, stepping up from the shorter one paragraphs they've been doing.  They had to do an outline, complete their checklist, and rough draft each part separately before being done.  This is teaching them to not retell the story or tell any story for that manner, in just two sentences.  ha ha.

So back to why I'm posting.  I am SO happy with their stories they've written this week! I want to blog them here for you.  I let them (for the first time) type up their final drafts so that I could just copy and paste them here.  I am going to do a direct copy and paste, no editing!

Their checklist for this assignment:

"-ly" adverb
who/which clause
strong verb
quality adjective
because clause

banned words: said, see/saw, go/went, thought
And they are required to come up with an interesting title based around the ending of the story (again I know this isn't a MUST for creative writing, but it makes them think harder at this point in time and see the story as a whole)

And for the grammar police out there, he had a whole entire segment on the teacher training about "who/which" clauses and how it helps them become better writers, addressing the nitty gritty of fitting them/not using them in professional writing later is another issue to address later!


Noah Thompson

November 8, 2013

How the Chicken Nugget Lost His Cap

Once upon a time,there was a very foolish chicken nugget who was wearing a big red cap and playing on the swing. Then he got really bored because he had nobody to play with. 
Then he remembered one day his dad exclaimed “If you ever see a mouth be sure to quickly call to the other chicken nuggets because they will scare it away.” So he eagerly called “Mouth Mouth!” The other chicken nuggets rushed over but they they discovered there was no mouth,which made them mad. They blabbered “Don't ever do that again!”
Later, he got bored again so, overwhelmed with boredom the chicken nugget cried “Mouth Mouth!”
 The other chicken nuggets rushed over, but they got furious because there was no mouth! Then they violently screamed “Don't EVER do that again!”
 After they left the chicken nugget cried “Mouth Mouth!” because he noticed a real mouth with razor sharp teeth! But the other chicken nuggets ignored him! The chicken nugget loudly screamed “Mouth Mou......." But then the other chicken nuggets got worried and rushed over, but only found his cap.


Katie Thompson

November 8, 2013

Don't Lie
Once, there was a bug,he was a ladybug and a school bug who was very foolish. He lived on a leafy
treetop in the woods. One day he was impatiently learning math, then he got very bored because math is not very fun! Then he remembered Mrs. Webber's warning when he first started going to Redwood Elementary, ''Beware of the bird, if you see one, call for help!'' He became very curious.
He wanted to make some excitement in his classroom so he screamed loudly, ''BIRD!'' 
Mrs Webber, the principal, the janitor, and even Marsha, who is the most tough class bully, ducked and screamed! But there was no bird. He had the whole building fooled! He laughed uncontrollably!
The whole building was pretty upset with him! Marsha said ''don't ever, ever, EVER do that again you little pest!''
For a long time he did not, but one day he got SO bored, he knew he shouldn't , but it just ''happened''
to slip from his lips. ''Oh no... b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” There was panic all in Redwood Elementary. Then there was ANGER!!!!! Bugs knew he was gonna be punished. He got some severe talking-to. 
Then, a couple hours later Bugs spotted a real, beak-licking, sharp beaked, eyes gleaming
''B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!'' screamed Bugs. he was ignored. ''BIRD!'' BIRD!!!'' he was still ignored. ''BIR-------------gulp!'' At this the students and Mrs. Webber became startled! Before they could duck, the bird swooped in and greedily ate them all up!

The moral: Don't lie or other people might not believe you when you are telling the truth.


Becky said...

Katie and Noah: Wonderful stories!!! I loved reading them. Great Writing!

Tara Freeman said...

This is adorable! I love their stories!

Melanie said...

I'm glad that you are enjoying IEW so much! The stories were really cute. I've been wondering how you guys were doing!