Study Group Discussion – Of Primary Importance, Part IV

June 24th, 2009

The group of teachers at Riverside Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio wrapped up their book study for the year, but not before sending along reflections from three  teachers about how they implemented some of the strategies and ideas. The group will meet again in the fall to continue the discussion and to ask author Ann Marie Corgill some questions about her book, Of Primary Importance. Catch up on what the group discussed earlier.

From McKenzie, 3rd Grade Teacher
Corgill spends a lot of time during her writing workshop studying the genre before getting students started with a writing piece.  One of the focus studies for third grade is for students to spend time learning about and writing literary non-fiction.

I tried to spend more time with students observing and examining the genre before we started writing within the genre of literary nonfiction.  I began this study in my reading workshop by introducing and reading books that fit this genre.  I spent a lot more time choosing mentor texts than I have in the past.  After some time reading this genre in my reading workshop, I moved the study into my writing workshop.  We looked at many books that fit the genre and began a chart in our writer’s notebook.  The chart contained four columns:  The title and author, the organization of the book (ie. Question/answer, ABC, etc.), how the author engages the reader, and finally an example of one of the previous two columns.  This helped the students focus on how authors present factual information in an interesting way.  As students started thinking about their own writing, they were able to identify what they wanted to do in their writing that really caught the readers’ attention while providing factual information.

Next year, I would like to look through our learning targets and identify two or three genres for students to study and write during writing workshop.  I am going to try using Corgill’s template for her unit of study curriculum map.  In this curriculum map, Corgill identifies what students should have, understand, and be able to do.  She has also compiled a list of mentor texts for each unit of study.   The last piece of her curriculum map is how she will assess students.  Corgill doesn’t just assess one piece of writing from the unit of study.  She looks at many writing samples, she documents student writing conferences, and looks at the reflections of her students as they have gone through their writing journey.  I found the sample reflections to be very informative when determining each students learning within the unit of study.

From Debbie, Reading Teacher
Although I am not a classroom teacher doing writing workshop, Of  Primary Importance helped with greater understanding of how I can  further develop and build those important connections between reading and writing.  “When students are consistently exposed to different types of literature it increases student’s motivation to write the kinds of books they read” was one quote that meant a lot to me as a reading support teacher.  I can continue to encourage and support them to read a variety of genres.

Another area that I found  of interest was the section on  nonfiction.  To avoid copying from the test when writing nonfiction, struggling readers will need additional practice with putting their reading into their own words.  I will reflect on  more ways that I can help them with this so that they can make the “slow and steady” progress in their writing.

From Laura, 2nd Grade Teacher
After reading the book Of Primary Importance, I have a lot of new ideas for my writing workshop next year, as well as how I am going to connect reading and writing workshop with my required content areas.  One great idea I plan to implement next year is the idea of dividing the year into 3 areas of focus, fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  I had to rethink how I would incorporate all I need to teach into these areas, and I have a good plan in place to try out next year.  After reading the book, I also see the importance of taking time to set up your workshop and not just jump right into it.  I will take the first 6-8 weeks to set up and talk about expectations etc.  I think I will have a better outcome for my writing workshop if my students know exactly what the next step is in their writing, where everything is, ,and what to do when they finish.  It will save me a lot of explaining the same things over and over again!

Entry Filed under: Literacy

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mrs. V  |  June 24th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    This sounds like a great resource. I will keep it in mind to mention to my colleagues in the lower grades next year. I enjoyed seeing the teachers reflections of what worked well and what they still want to improve.

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