Making sense of this writing cycle can be tough, especially when you’ve been sold a bill of goods about those 5-steps. Students and teachers, when trying to move toward a more authentic writing process often struggle to forget those 5-steps because they lack a model for a real cycle. So I’ve been working to put together a set of books — picturebooks , specifically— that offers a model for this more real writing cycle. The stories I’ve collected offer ways into the various moments in the cycle, show characters experiencing the same kinds of thinking and struggles that writers — whether students or teachers — face.
The stories we tell — or fail to tell — our children say a lot about who we think we are
What does all this have to do with George Washington chopping down a cherry tree? Because how (and if) we tell Washington’s story is an indication of what we — which is a naturally limited and contested ‘we’ at any given historical moment — think about ourselves in that historical moment. I’m currently editing a manuscript about my research on the early dissemination of Washington’s story, so I thought I’d share some of my explorations here.
The manuscript began as project for class called The History of American Reading Instruction. For the final class project, I ended up looking for every instance of the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree that I could find. And between the UT Library’s extensive collection and Google Books, I found a lot. I also found, as I read these stories, that they reflected exactly those cultural and societal shifts that Nila Banton Smith had outlined in the text on the history of reading instruction, appropriately titled, American Reading Instruction. The stories moved from Nationalistic/Moralistic, toward Intelligent Citizenship, through Cultural Asset to Scientific Investigation (see below for a more detailed chart).
Book or iBook?
Arts & crafts or Minecraft?
CDs or Spotify?
How many parents are already regretting the new game system/tablet/phone Christmas gift? How many hours have your children stared into the glowing screen, working hard on their dowger’s hump? As my husband and I are trying to think about how to manage time spent with the new Wii, I’m reminded that in a world filled with screens — and still filled with books and paper and pens — both/and is really the answer to all of the questions above.
Looking for something fun to do to fill the long hours of winter break? I recommend a family viewing of LEGO City. Seriously.
My husband and I got talked into watching an episode of LEGO City after dinner the other night. While I monitor my sons’ TV watching, I also know they refuse to watch anything in the least bit frightening/violent. We didn’t make it through the storm scene of Ratatouille, or Toy Story, to give you some idea of our threshold. Before LEGO started, both sons were giving an extensive preface about the story. And when it started, they kept talking. You see, there are no words in LEGO City. There’s some tonally appropriate mumbling, but no actual words. It was brilliant. Their narration, talking over one another, punctuated by the baby’s exclamations when a helicopter showed up.
What’s the big deal, you might be asking? Simply, that wordless texts invite children into deep engagement with that text. My sons participated actively in the watching of this TV show, demonstrated an understanding of plot structures, plot twists, character development, and all kinds of other literary devices that show up in state standards. They were also inferencing, another $10 reading teacher word, the whole time. And this happened through TV, of all things.