Nonfiction Writing from the Heart

Thoughts from our discussion on 7/21

- start the year off with more nonfiction writing - build on the all about books students wrote in kindergarten

- impressed by the respect the authors gave the discussion about the wonders, they weren't concerned about students finding the 'right' answer

- want to build on what was done last year with our library - more students writing books to put in our school library - have students able to check out each others' books

- use Steve Jenkins books as great mentor texts for nonfiction

- thinking about our 2nd grade animal reports - could students write them based around their wonderings about an animal?

- could we collect good nonfiction mentor texts to keep in the book room and check out?

- like the idea of talking with experts about students' wonderings - could skpye with folks

- one teacher gave students time at the end of the year to research a topic of their choice to present to their classmates in a 'convention'

- discussed again the importance of language
- Tony Stead - 'never underestimate the power of pictures' - students can label pictures as a scaffold
- having the teacher record students' wondering (at least early on in the year) offers a scaffold for the language as it is on display
- having I Wonder prompts displayed will help students share their wonderings (I wonder how..., I wonder why..., I wonder what..., etc.)
- can create topical word walls to scaffold language - words on specific topics related to curriculum or related to class interest - can brainstorm lists, write on the smartboard, and print out for reference
- strengthening students' vocabulary makes reading easier and offers opportunities for more detailed writing - you can't read and write what you can't say
- discussed creating centers to encourage vocabulary development - premade pictures and words to match - students create index card puzzles (draw a picture and write a word and cut them apart, a friend can then solve the puzzles) - concentration - picture and magnetic letters in a baggie to create the word - guessing games (I'm thinking of a word that means an animal's nose and starts with S)
- power of modeling - can provide students with language to problem solve

- I love how the heart wonderings give the children the power of "mulling over" their thoughts and beliefs. I think heart wonderings are a powerful intro to nonfiction writing...sort of a transition or bridge between fiction and research-based writing. So many times we think of non-fiction writing as index cards, sited sources, etc.
- I also love the ideas above about building vocabulary through the heart wonderings and using this vocabulary on word walls and centers. Collaborative writing - as opposed to individual books- when the students share heart wonderings would also allow for talking and vocabulary building as they discuss their ideas and start to formulate their questions and writing. Awesome ideas!

What are Your Three Wonders?


Wonder Boxes


Heart Wonders


Books of Wonder: Writing Nonfiction from the Heart