Today we celebrated how far we've come as writers in our first unit of study this year. Since the beginning of school, we have been studying, writing, exploring, telling, and revising personal narratives. We started with the idea that authors write stories from their lives and they are always collecting story ideas in their "idea file." We learned to live our lives as writers, noticing the meaningful moments all around us. Then, we studied mentor authors like Jane Yolen, Vera B. Williams, and Angela Johnson to learn how these authors magnify details for their readers and how they use craft moves to bring their stories to life. Learners discussed crafting powerful endings for their narratives, and as we learned about revising, we really focused on "revising with intent." The features in Google Docs, such as receiving "comments" and "suggestions" from teachers and spell check, helped us make sure our chosen pieces were ready to share with the rest of the learning community.
After much learning, hard work, and thought, today we toasted to our work as writers! We reflected on our growth, making goals for what we want to accomplish next as writers. Then, in a gallery-walk style presentation we enjoyed reading all the personal narratives from our peers. We also enjoyed giving feedback to other learners in our community by leaving sticky notes with messages anchored in the writing lessons from this unit of study.
Below are two examples of published pieces. Please enjoy and marvel, like we did, at the amazing work of these young learners.
Black Morning (written by one of our ten-year-old learners)
This morning was a black one. We were rushing out of our house, trying to get all the weighted luggage out of the door. My family was trying to get to the airport. We all quickly hopped into the car as little rabbits would hop into a hole. The suitcases were packed safely into the trunk of my mother’s car.
As always, my father was driving. He slowly backed out of the driveway. Suddenly, CRASH! I quickly hopped out of the car and saw the whole back window shattered in little pieces. The trunk was open the whole time! I heard my mother saying “stay away from the glass.”
So I went out into the black morning. The crickets were still chirping. My mother and father were busy calmly discussing what we were going to do, while my brother and I were freaking out. It was so tense! They figured out a solution, and I took a deep breath. My mother and father started hauling the luggage out of the car and into my father’s car. My mother told us to get into the car.
The four of us stepped into the car and I was tearing up. I was so mad at myself! It was all my fault, I should have warned them, but I didn’t know the trunk was open. My mom and dad told me it was all of our faults. I slumped back. My cheeks were wet from tears. We drove to FastPark, the place we would park our car while we were gone. We walked swiftly into the airport. Our flight boarded in 30 minutes. We went to the restroom, like we always do before we board the plane, and then we did a last minute stretch and boarded. I settled into my seat slowly. I started playing Knights of the Old Republic and I immediately felt better. Finally, we were on our way to Alaska. I realized that sometimes things go wrong, but you just have to stay calm, talk it out, and then you can be on way to a new adventure.
The Trip to Pease Park (written by one of our seven-year-old learners)
Long-View was going to lunch. The wind blew past me as tho it was a part of me. We walked across the bridge and then we went down the stairs into Pease Park. As Annie crossed the last step she heard buzzing noises, but she didn't care. We walked around a tree and then we saw bees! Annie screamed. It all happened so fast. A bee had stung Annie in the head.
Mr. Moore said, "Go! go! go!” I did not know what was going on so I just walked. I walked across the bridge and stopped at the light at Lamar and waited for a teacher. When a teacher came, we all crossed Lamar again. We walked up 24th street and came back to Long-View. Then, we were safe. Until we realized two bees followed with us! Some people were scared and some were not. We all went into Long-View and when we were all in Long-View we were safe. At the end of the day I went home and told my mom and my brother all the exciting adventures I had in that one day.
*Editor's note: Pease Park is where we spend our lunch hour. It is a lovely place to eat and play. And like any park, it has its share of insect friends, which is also one reason we like going there (we appreciate the chance to enjoy nature, for good or bad!). Bee stings happen (rarely) and we take every precaution to avoid them.