06 November 2010

Sharing your writing is so much fun.

One of the fun things that part of my class did this week was to share their writing with some of the students in one of the Kindergarten classes. I mentioned two weeks ago that one of my Language Arts groups had been writing "David" stories. Some of the children didn't get them finished in class, so I gave them a week to finish them, and on Wednesday this week we headed down to Kindergarten to read the stories. First I read the original "David goes to School" to the class, then we paired the children up and they each got to read their stories to several Kindergarten students. The stories have now been placed on display in the school library so other children can enjoy the work of these budding authors.

I learned a lot from this teaching activity. I think the most important thing that I learned is that if you give children a model and a structure they find it much easier to write, than if you just ask them to write you a story. This is especially true for students working in their second or third language. As a teacher, I know that I still have so much to learn, and I hope that I will always be a lifelong learner.

Another fun writing task we have undertaken over the last week has been letter writing. Over the summer we were contacted by a teacher in the UK who wanted to give her students a genuine writing activity, as well as a chance to learn a little more about another country. We received the letters from her students a short time ago (yep, arrived safely through the mail), and hopefully all the replies from my students will be ready to post off on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Most are done, but a few still have pictures to finish. They've asked if we would send them some audio/video, so that will also be on the agenda of things to do on Monday. That will need to go electronically, but it will be fun to do. Hopefully my internet connection will cooperate sufficiently to allow me to send it, or I might just burn it on a CD and send it that way. Either way, it's fun for the children to have this link with children on the other side of the world, and to see some of the ways their penpal's lives are similar and different to their own.

Writing can also be challenging. Children who read widely are also better able to write well. Imagine that you can speak a language, but cannot read or write it. When most of your lessons are in that language, school has just become so much more difficult. Planning meaningful lessons when your student's abilities vary from beginning readers to competent readers reading at or above grade level is especially challenging. That's one of the main challenges of my classroom this year. There's a great resource that I've been trialling the last week, but it requires a subscription for me to continue using it. It allows me to differentiate my reading lessons very well without too much effort, and the program contains a substantial number of non-fiction texts as well as fiction ones, so cultural issues become less of a problem than with other programs. Pray that I will make wise decisions about the best and most ethical use of the limited resources available to me.

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