In first grade this week, we are implementing the second of four lessons in preparation for a Graphic Narrative Unit of Study that I will be teaching next February. I am writing these introductory lessons as well as the unit of study for writing - and I could not be more excited!!!
We are asking first grade students to chronicle four stories from their lives from a very specific perspective - how does the way you physically move influence the way you feel emotionally about yourself and how does it positively affect those around you? We are trying to connect the choices we make that positively change our own world in our own ways, to the choices and motivations of our nation's founders and historical leaders, especially when faced with problems and troubles. In February, from these four seeds, the first graders will compose a personal story of growth, written in graphic narrative mode. And then, they will write the story of one of our Founding Fathers in the same graphic mode. This is a yearlong cross-curricular project at our school, integrating the arts with the core academic subjects of reading, writing, history, and science.
I promise to share more of this unit as we proceed. Honestly, this is uncharted territory for us and while I want to invite you all to write with us, the team and I have more thinking, planning, and writing to do first.
Next week, we are heading into a nonfiction unit of study. Informational writing fits into our district's instructional pacing for first grade in the second quarter, and this unit will take us right up to Thanksgiving. The first time I taught this unit several years ago, the writers had free choice for the subject content of their books. I taught the text features and we read nonfiction mentor texts; but, ultimately, the students chose the topic for their books.
This time, I plan to do things a little differently. I talked to the first grade teacher with whom I will be collaborating, and asked her what subject matter the students would be exploring during the time of our unit. She noted that the students would be working on seasons in science...BINGO!!
The teacher and I are going to ask the students to choose one of the four seasons as the subject of their nonfiction books. We will take a few days for the students to do some prewriting - researching and taking notes on various aspects of their seasons. And then will we begin the instruction on writing practical nonfiction.
I have chosen six books in which the authors have presented information in interesting ways.
*Bat Loves the Night, Nicola Davies - a narrative story with facts included on the pages.
*Atlantic, G. Brian Karas - giving the inanimate subject a voice; a fact page at the end.
*Supermarket, Kathleen Krull - information presented as text on the illustrations.
*What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? Steven Jenkins and Robin Page- questions to engage the reader on one page, answers on the next; written like a riddle.
*I Call It Sky, Will C. Howell - repeating structure; poetic (but not necessarily
*What's Up, What's Down?, Lola M. Schaefer - perspective of content, perspective
of text on the page.
Student writers will be encouraged to try some of the same nonfiction text craft moves used in these books. With the content (seasons) already decided and researched, the students will be able to concentrate on how to present the information to the reader in interesting and engaging ways.
I am looking forward to getting into the first grade classrooms and getting busy. I'll keep you posted!!