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Writing

Using volunteers in the classroom

Sometimes parent volunteers require a lot of extra work for a teacher. Other times, parents work as a second set of hands but don't really work one-on-one with kids. Somewhere in the middle is a setting in which the time flies by with both the volunteer and the students benefitting from spending time together.

Pen pals, old school style

On the last day of school, Anna came home with a stamped envelope from her kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Z had offered to be pen pals over the summer with kids from her class. By 4:00 that day (the last day of school, after getting home at 3:00), Anna had written her first pen pal letter.

In case I forgot…

…how to make Anna's favorite lunch, she left me these directions, taped to the oven door handle. I particularly like step number 7: Serve and enjoy.

As a parent, I love finding writing samples around the house. They're everywhere! We've got notes taped to the guest room door, over the hooks for their backpacks, and on one particularly industrious Saturday morning the girls labeled the playroom bins with "Polly Pockets," "train tracks," and "other small stuff."

Dyslexia: A primer

I love the Florida Center for Reading Research. The center is directed by Barbara Foorman and Joe Torgesen. And no one that works there must need sleep! They're always cranking out really good reports and publications. It's one of the first places I go when researching something.

Can Santa read this?

We're still reading and writing around our house, with Anna adding to her list each day. Because of this, I'll be busy right up until the last minute trying to figure out what a few of these things might be!

Happy holidays to you — thanks for reading Sound It Out this year, and I look forward to next year! We'll have lots to talk about, including infusing technology into literacy instruction, analyzing student spelling, using text sets to motivate reluctant readers, summer reading, and writing instruction for all students. See you then!

'Tis the season to read and write

Like everyone, we're in for a busy couple of weeks. Our homework and storytime routines sometimes get pushed aside, and at first I was feeling guilty about that. But when I think about how the girls are spending their time, there's plenty of reading, writing, and math going on...it just looks different! Here's how Anna spent her afternoon yesterday on the computer:

Dear Santa,

Big trouble, written down

Something I never thought I'd hear...

"Joanne, this is Mrs. Z from school. Anna's bringing home a note today. I thought I'd give you a head's up."

Oh boy. It seems Anna had trouble including someone in a game on the playground yesterday. What a sad "backpack unpack" we had... Anna was distraught to have to show us the letter she wrote describing the incident. Here she was, fresh with new writing powers, needing to use them to write about her trouble at school. Darn it.

I like writer's workshop

I like writer's workshop.

There. I said it! I like writer's workshop. It's like a confession for me...someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about things like density of instructional time, explicit instruction in skills-based groups, and more. But, I'll say it again: I like writer's workshop. Good 'ol time to sit and think and write.

I've watched both my girls absolutely flourish when given the opportunity to write, share, and publish. Both started off tentatively and complaining that they didn't have anything to write about. And then, it clicked.

My budding author and her (lack of) pencil grip

My daughter Anna LOVES to write. It's something she's always enjoyed doing. Her kindergarten class has Writer's Workshop several times a week, and she eagerly publishes her stories. During our school's Author Share later this month, Anna's planning to share a book of short stories she's penned.

She has fantastic skill with dialogue, word choice, and even a surprise ending or two. Where she lacks skill is with her pencil grip! She uses this two-finger-over-pencil, grasp mid-way-up-pencil technique that I've never seen before.

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald