About this episode
Welcome to POPCAST, Episode 13! In this episode, Jeff, Travis, and Whitney walk through a lesson from Patterns of Wonder on nouns. Learn how to build upon the wonder and curiosity that children naturally have and include play into your grammar lessons.
Meet Jeff and Travis
For over thirty years, Jeff Anderson has inspired writers and teachers of grades K-8 with the power and joy of writing and grammar. He has written eight books for Stenhouse Publishers. He also writes middle-grade novels. Travis Leech is currently a middle school instructional coach in Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, TX. He has thirteen years of experience in education, including teaching middle school English Language Arts and as a gifted and talented specialist. Follow Jeff and Travis on Twitter.
Read the transcript
Jeff: Welcome to POPCast.
Travis: A Patterns of Power podcast.
Jeff: Discussing grammar in the context of the reading and writing connections.
Travis: I'm Travis Leech.
Jeff: And I'm Jeff Anderson.
Travis: And we're today's hosts for episode 13.
Jeff: And today we've got with us again, author of Patterns of Power: Grades 1-5, coauthor, and also author of Patterns of Wonder. And that's what we're talking about today, Patterns of Wonder with Emergent Writers. So we're going to have some excitement today because we're going to step through a lesson that follows a different process. If you're interested, the last episode, we talked about the phases and the one before that, we talked about how it was like and different than Patterns of Power. This is one where we're going to take it and use those phases and talk about how you can actually step through a Patterns of Wonder lesson. Hit me, Whitney.
Whitney: Thanks Jeff. Yeah, so we are going to actually look at a lesson about nouns today, but we're not going to spend our time identifying nouns or pointing to all the nouns that we see in a sentence or make sure…
Jeff: A noun is a person, a place or thing. A noun is a person, place or thing.
Whitney: No, we're not doing that. We're going to build on the curiosity and wonder that naturally young children have. And the subtitle of Patterns of Wonder is Inviting Emergent Writers to Play with the Conventions of Language. And so I hope that you find the playfulness that is throughout this entire lesson as we learn—
Jeff: Oh, we going to play today. Every place that you can go and everything that you can know. Oh, sorry. I'll stop.
Whitney: Last week we... Or the last episode, we talked about the phases of writing, the Patterns of Wonder phases of writing. And so we have lessons in every single phase of writing. And when we're teaching about nouns, we actually can teach about nouns in all four of those phases of writing. So we have a different lesson about nouns in each phase of writing. So the one that I'm going to take you through today in this episode, and it might possibly go into the next episode as well, we'll have to kind of see our time on this, is in the symbol and letter writing phase.
Whitney: And this is where students are... Writers in this phase are beginning to see that letters help make meaning in words as well. And so you'll see some letter strings, you'll see some symbols that are mock letters, they're letters in their minds. You'll see a lot of times their names within their writing. And so we want to still build into their oral language and really look at their oral rehearsal and then what they're doing in their illustrations as well to help make meanings. So that's really our focus in this lesson. So our focus phrase for this lesson is, "I show and tell about people, places and things."
Jeff: I show and tell about people, places and things.
Travis: And tell about people, places and things.
Whitney: Because we want to show in our pictures and words and also tell about it orally. So yeah, so we're going to use Can I Be Your Dog?, written and illustrated by Troy Cummings. I love this book about this dog who is just trying to find a home. And being a puppy owner myself of a rescue dog, this book just-
Jeff: We're all rescue dog people.
Travis: Oh yes.
Whitney: Yes. So this —
Travis: Come walk by my home.
Whitney: Oh, I just love it so much. And so this dog is just trying to find this home in this neighborhood. So for the invitation to wonder, we're going to take a page from the book. And really you can use any page from the book, but we always tell you, this is a recommendation that you could use. And so it's towards the beginning of the book and it's the page where they're in front of the house with the children playing in the backyard. And this page spread is actually even in Patterns of Wonder for teachers to use if they don't have this book in front of them.
Jeff: They're going to love that.
Travis: Love that.
Jeff: That they've got the pages right in the book when we could do it. All right.
Whitney: So we simply ask the students, "Take a look at what Troy Cummings has done here. And what do you wonder?" And it's amazing when they begin to share their wonderings, a lot of times they'll say, "Oh, I see. I see a cat in a tree. I wonder if he'll go higher in that tree. I'll see kids. I see a football. I see this. I see that." So they're noticing through even their wonderings. And so we kind of begin to listen to some things that they're noticing, and then we can play on that. And, "Oh, so you notice a cat in the tree. So those are both things, right? What else? What else?"
Whitney: "Oh, I see the mail lady." It's the most common response I've gotten is the mail lady. She's the postal worker that's delivering the letter.
Travis: She's right up there in yeah, in the forefront.
Whitney: But she's right up front. So we can say, "Oh yeah, that's the mail woman or the postal worker. That's a person. So we see things and we see people. Do you see any other people?" And, "Yes, we see the kids and..."
Travis: Oh, how about the house?
Whitney: Yeah. So what else do you see? Right? And they'll say, "Oh, there's a house. There's a big house." Oh yeah. So that can kind of be like a place, right?
Jeff: Travis, you must have done—
Whitney: So it's just this idea of them-
Travis: I was kind of a big deal.
Whitney: ... Noticing everything that's in the-
Jeff: You were a big deal in kindergarten. Very big deal in kindergarten. People don't know this.
Whitney: ... Everything that's in the picture that's making meaning by showing and telling about people, places and things in the picture. And so through all of that... They might also notice
other things that are not people, places and things. Right? So the tree is pink. Yeah. We can talk about that. Conversation around all of that. I wonder if that cat will go higher? Oh, he might. That could happen in the story. Just making meaning from the picture. And then we can bring in the focus phrase, "I show and tell about people, places and things in our writing."
Whitney: And if you have your easel next to you, you can be writing all of the people, places and things that they're noticing on sticky notes and putting them up on the easel-
Jeff: But you don't categorize them at first, but you can use them later to-
Whitney: No, but you can later to categorize for sure.
Jeff: That's exciting.
Whitney: Yeah. And even when you bring in the, I show and tell about people, places and things, well, what are places here? Oh yeah, a house. What about things? So you can begin to categorize if you want, but do you have to? No, it's more of just around that conversation.
Jeff: Whatever they think. But you've got the potential for a later conversation if you want it.
Jeff: If you want it.
Whitney: And you're going to continue on that anyway when you move into the compare contrast, which is the next step. So in the compare contrast in this lesson, we compare and contrast to another page in the same book, in Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings.
Jeff: When you say another page, you're meaning the other full picture, right?
Whitney: Another picture spread.
Jeff: So we're looking at two full pictures.
Whitney: Yes. And what I have found easiest to do honestly, is if I have the book, is just to take a picture of each and put it up on my whiteboard. Or if you have a camera that's displaying, you can have them side by side. That way you can also have one under the document camera where you're flipping back and forth. But honestly, I've found it easiest just to take a picture of both and put it up there. And so when they are comparing contrasting pictures, again, one of the pages, well, several of the pages in Can I Be Your Dog? has names of these places as well.
Whitney: So this one is the Chop Chop Butcher Shop, which is the name of the shop on the street. And so now there's that environmental print that students begin to learn about as well. And so they begin to also notice during this compare and contrast invitation, yes, they both have people, they both have places, they both have things. But wow, this one has letters and those letters make words and we can build on that as well.
Whitney: So in your own writing, you can use words and pictures to make meaning. So because students in this phase are beginning to realize that those letters can make meaning, that's some labeling that they can do as well in their own writing.
Jeff: So it's kind of being offered up as an option. So when we're looking at the two pages from the picture book, which is different than Patterns of Power, because we're looking at two sentences, we're actually now in Patterns of Wonder looking at two pages from a picture book and comparing the picture. And then in some of the pictures, there are words and then we get to make that connection that there are words and pictures.
Jeff: I love this part.
Whitney: And we're growing writers here, right?
Whitney: So we're feeding into the stage or the phase of writing that they're already in and showing them that this is a way that you can use those letters that you're learning to have meaning in your pictures as well.
Travis: Yeah, that they seem to already have an idea of that they exist and maybe starting to use them here.
Jeff: We're making, building an awareness and nourishing writers.
Travis: Loving this.
Travis: Loving it.
Whitney: Right. So after we have this conversation around what's the same and what's different in both and we go back to our focus phrase because they are going to notice the mail lady is in both pictures. So then we instantly get to, "Oh, well, do you see any other people?" Right? And so there's in the first picture, there's a bunch of kids. In the second picture, there's the woman inside the shop that's working. And so they're able to compare and contrast. But they also notice the difference in the mailboxes.
Whitney: And this is what I love about picture books, is there's so many details in the pictures and that really get kids noticing. And so in this book, the mailbox is very different for each place that the dog goes to try to find a home. And so-
Jeff: Because he's writing letters to them, right?
Whitney: He is. He's writing these letters to each of these places on the street saying, "Can I be your dog? And this is what I'll do." And he's getting denied by all of them.
Jeff: Well maybe he needs to work on his-
Whitney: Can I spoil the ending here?
Travis: Please, because my heart is breaking right now.
Whitney: Spoiler alert, the mail lady ends by writing him a letter and saying, "Can I be your person?" Yeah.
Travis: Nice. Okay.
Jeff: Spoiler alert.
Whitney: And so he does find a home.
Jeff: Spoiler alert.
Whitney: It's just a beautiful, beautiful story. And she says, "I need someone that knows the street as well as I do. So will you be my dog?" So anyway, the mailboxes change depending on the place.
Travis: Yeah, is that like a roast ham butcher shop?
Whitney: Yeah. So in front of the picture, it's a regular mailbox that we would normally see in front of a house. Right? But then in front of the Chop Chop Butcher Shop, it's like a big ham leg or a roast leg.
Travis: Yeah. I need that in front of my house.
Whitney: So students-
Travis: That makes sense.
Whitney: And what I really like too about these pictures that she's holding these letters and it is that scribbled writing on the letters that they see. So again, it's tying back to marks on a page make meaning. So we revisit our focus phrase. And one thing that we can do with our focus phrase is invite the students to help us add visuals to the focus phrase, because they are also learning to read, right? They don't necessarily know how to read every word yet. And so we can add visuals to help them remember what those words say. So when I did this lesson with a pre-K class, we drew little stick figures above the word people. And we drew a house because that was what the place was in the book above places. And then we drew a football above things to help us remember what people, places and things were for our focus phrase.
Jeff: The stuff of writing and reading. Right.
Whitney: Right? So the next step is the imitate together, the invitation to imitate together. And so then we just decide, okay, if we wanted to... Let's see, in Troy Cummings book, he kind of has this overall place. So let's kind of think of an overall place and then what people and things, and maybe other places we would find in there. And you decide together kind of what your writing will be. And in this case, the lesson that I did with this pre-K class, we chose a playground. And so that was our place and some things that we added in, of course, were the slide and the swings and an ice cream truck was also added in.
Jeff: Oh, at the students' request probably?
Whitney: Yes. They said an ice cream truck was at the playground.
Jeff: That makes sense. Yeah.
Whitney: I went, "Okay, sure." And then it was interesting, they said pebbles. And so we drew little rocks and pebbles in as well. And then what people would you find?
Jeff: They're rocking it.
Whitney: Kids. And what would the kids be doing? And so we drew this together and then we went back to actually the Chop Chop Butcher Shop page to help us say, "Oh, look, we can also add words too." So we wrote the playground. Or we talked about how we could also do P for playground as a label.
Jeff: So they're getting inspired again by this interaction with each other, the text, creating their own text together, this focus phrase and making pictures in the focus phrase, it's all developmentally appropriate. And I could see how this would build a perfect foundation for the Patterns of Power in grades 2, 3, 4 and above.
Jeff: What a beautiful thing. All invitational again, though though.
Whitney: It is. It is. And they're composing-
Jeff: It's exposure experimentation.
Whitney: Right. And we're composing writing that our students are producing at this age. And I think that's really important. We're not writing sentences here, we're writing what we would normally find.
Jeff: In this phase of writing, is this a pretty common imitation where we're using a lot of picture?
Jeff: And then looking to maybe add some text with that?
Whitney: Yeah. Because we want to do what they're doing in their writing already. So when they're making their books, they're drawing a lot of pictures and they're trying out different letters.
Whitney: And so now what we're doing is we're teaching into that by saying, "How could we label this picture?" Right?
Jeff: Yeah. Okay.
Whitney: Oh, a playground. We could put a P. We know how to make a P. And so they can begin to make those letter sound connections as well.
Jeff: Travis, I don't know about you, but I'm having too much fun. I'm just having too much fun and I'm thinking that we need to do another episode where we finish talking about this walking through a lesson. What do you think?
Travis: Yeah, especially if we're talking about invitation to play. I want to play in that space for a little while longer.
Whitney: That's what comes next.
Jeff: We need the time. We need the time. Thank you to Stenhouse for sponsoring our POPCast today.
Travis: That's S-T-E-N-H-O-U-S-E.com. Thanks a lot, Stenhouse. We appreciate it.
Whitney: Yes, thank you.
Jeff: Thanks to Whitney La Rocca, our guest. And remember, Patterns of Wonder will be available sometime this late summer and to pre-order. And then in the fall, it's promised to be out. So look for Patterns of Wonder for Emergent Writers.
Travis: And let's talk-
Whitney: Thank you for having me.
Travis: Yeah, let's talk through that lesson, the rest of this lesson, next episode.
Whitney: Sounds great.
Jeff: All right. See you next week. Or two weeks, or whenever you listen again.