Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Wonderful Place

One of the books that I received from Stenhouse Publishing Company was Georgia Heard's new book that she wrote with Jennifer McDonough called A Place for Wonder. You can read some of that new book here, and you won't be disappointed. First of all, love Georgia Heard, not sure why she seems to speak to me personally when she writes but she is just so passionate about encouraging our youngest writers. I love her poet's eye view of the world and she fosters that in this book. This book is littered with quotes about wonder, writing, and wonderful encouragements for teachers. She seems to understand the plight that we are all in this topsy turvy world of assessment driven instruction. And yet, she doesn't stray from the fact that our youngest learners need to be held in their world of wonder, that that world need not be taken away from their early in their learning. She understands that school can be a place where children are dumped information into their little minds instead of discovering it for themselves.

Here is what I loved about this book:

1. My Aha moment came when she discussed how students withing Jennifer's classroom were researching their wonders to make an All About Book about their wonder topic. They had several texts, website, and copied information (that was developmentally appropriate for 1st graders) within the classroom. They put these materials in logical common places and students were allowed to peruse them during Reader's Workshop, but, they were not allowed to remove them from the area to write down what they learned. In an effort to keep them from copying the resource the students were not allowed to remove the materials, they had to go back to their writing spots and jot down, in their own words, what they had just learned. Oh, so that's how you get young writers to not just copy the words out of the resource!!!!!! Duh!

2. The Wonder Wall, a place where the community of learners can write their wonders in public and then the other members of the community can use what they know, their prior knowledge, to answer the question. Jennifer brings a wonder to the whole group then once a week and asks the community to help answer the question. My students have been loving this aspect of their wonders. It has given them expertise about subjects that are sometimes not covered in my basal. It requires them to think about their inferences and to use their judgements to figure out real wonderings. It also has helped the community to know that we are all experts about certain things because of our interests.

3. The Wonder Box- a lid to a paper box really but what is contained inside is things from nature that we have brought in to share with each other. We wonder about a lot of things and we have placed them inside a booklet that I made that holds their wonders. Here are some things that we wonder about:

How does a snake eat such big things when they are so long and skinny?

How do the shark's teeth get out of its mouth and into the sand?

Why is that shark tooth black?

How do the people who sell shark's teeth collect them all to sell?

Where do all the colors come from on the shells, and why are they all different?

I can't wait to begin our unit on nonfiction, we have so much knowledge now about text features, and we also have things that will be so much more interesting because we have asked ourselves questions! If you are looking for a good read then buy this book, you will not be disappointed because Georgia has done it again!


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