Karen C presented for us on Friday, and what a gold mine her time was for us! She laid out how she gets first-year kids writing in Spanish from the first day of class, using the cognates that they know with the structures that they are learning. She inspired me to find a cognate list again for my first year kids. I’ve had them off and on, but now I understand how I can put them to use better.
Karen taught creative writing for years, and she is a former graphic artist, so it makes sense that she would use these talents, but she admitted that it’s really easier to find pictures quickly on line than to draw them. She demonstrated how she puts up a picture on the board and then circles that picture with the structures, adding pieces (like a pirate hat) to add information.
The students write their first paragraph in class. They have to write about the protagonist using 40 words (with a word count page like the one Scott Benedict shares). Karen sits down with the reluctant ones at that time, proving to them that they can really write 40 words. They keep adding, a paragraph at a time, and at the end, they put each paragraph onto one page of a little booklet and illustrate it.
This project is definitely output, but it is the kind of thing that parents love and kids can be proud of. Karen’s kids really know their stuff. She has them write about 15 of these little stories each of their first two years, following an underlying form that she creates with them in class, using the chance to emphasize the structures and the required curriculum as part of their stories.
I’ll see whether Karen will let me post her forms. Anne has already sent me a version of Scott’s free write form. Here’s a link to that form. Both said that using those forms made free writes much easier to read, as well as to proof, if that’s necessary for some reason.
Probably the best part of the day was watching how Karen built from incredibly simple to more complex through circling the Susie Gross way: nail down a couple facts, then ask another question, circle that again, do a parallel character and ask another question…it was so skillful that I didn’t notice the repetitions at all. I was interested in what would happen next. These demos help us all add to our repertoire.
What probably seemed to Karen to be a simple practice kept us all asking questions. She didn’t have time to share her novel project, but now we know we want to have it.