A New Kind of Graphic Organizer

To start off this beautiful week, I would like to share with you a new graphic organizer (new to me that is!) that I learned about during my time at EARCOS in Bangkok, Thailand. I went to a workshop held by Brett Dillingham and gained a lot of great tips to use during writing workshop. I implemented the graphic organizer just this morning.

At the end of this week, we are going to display writings from every grade, in an event that we like to call “Write Across APIS” (Jee Young has mentioned this before here). Each classroom gets a set of the same pictures, and this year we chose artwork by Norman Rockwell. (I personally LOVE Norman Rockwell’s work.)

This morning I gave my students a chance to pick a picture (they are allowed to choose the same one if they really like it, though most of them chose different pictures) and then asked them to write their own story about it. Before they started, I modeled an example, using this graphic organizer that Brett illustrated during his workshop:

You see, often we tell the students everything they need to include in their story (characters, settings, problem, solution, etc.), and we have them brainstorm, and then we make them write. My students will start a story, and not know where they are going with it, even if they have an idea of their problem and solution. This graphic organizer requires them to plan out their whole story before they even start writing. Once you have this drawn, you add a couple of words by each section to plan out your story. Then, you ask the students to share their story (with you or a partner) aloud. After they do that, they draw the main picture (or character) of their story in the middle of the organizer. For my assignment with the students this morning they already had the picture.

For my example, I chose this picture by Norman Rockwell:

And this is what my completed graphic organizer looked like:

The students can write a couple of words, or a sentence by each part of their story. In the end they might have 18-20 words on their organizer. Once they explain it a loud, they have a lot more than 18-20 words, and this is the story they write down:

Have you ever used this graphic organizer before?

Do you have a graphic organizer you love? Share it with us!

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Writing Across the School

Every year, our school has a tradition, where we write across the different elementary classrooms around common photos/drawings/paintings. It started off a few years ago, where during the first time, we used the famous illustrations from Chris Van Allsburg‘s, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Each of his drawing has a line that goes with it. The students from all of the elementary classes, each chose one of the photos to write about. They each wrote their own story, starting with the line from the photo. Then, we hung up all the stories for each photo on the walls of our school. It was so interesting to see the different stories that students came up with from Kindergarten to 5th grade.

Last year, we used photos from different Allen Say books. He has great photos in his picture books with Asian characters. This year, our theme is Norman Rockwell. We are using different paintings of his that the students are writing stories about. Our awesome literacy coach made color copies of the photos and laminated 2 sets so the elementary teachers can borrow them. Here are a few of the paintings the students can choose from.

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I’m excited to see what kind of stories the students will come up with this year!

P.S. Melody is going to the EARCOS 2012 conference next week in Bangkok, Thailand! Anyone else going to be there?!