Thursday, February 21, 2013

Writing


Eamon has been asking for a blog for some time. Every time he has asked, I have been in the middle of something. Most recently it was during our preparations for coming east. Finally we had a few moments to sit down together a week or so ago and start his blog. With a little help from me, he set up the blog for himself. We used blogger, which provided a platform on which he selected the header, settings and layout. He invited a few friends and family to share his private blog and has been trying to post most days. He writes his own posts, looks for photos, adds links, and does his own editing.  Dave or I usually lend support with the editing. He is learning more about sentence structure and punctuation. We also have talked about paragraphs and topic flow. He is so pleased when he receives a comment and often wants to post several times a day.
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Often people ask how we teach different subjects. They look at me in confusion when I initially start talking about interest-led or child-led learning. Thoughts of chaos and undereducated children stream through their minds. As I continue to explain how we learn as opposed to how I teach, it becomes more clear. My kiddos know a lot. Much of what they know does not fit into the confines of their grade level curriculum or standards. Some does. They ask questions and as parents we both answer. If we don't know, we spend time together researching the question. We visit the library often, gathering books on a wide variety of topics, both fiction and non-fiction. We read many books throughout the day. And we take trips to museums, points of interest, art venues and other places my children may find interesting.

Writing instruction in our home is not formulaic. The kiddos and I don't sit down to learn how to write. We don't cover nouns, verbs, subjects, predicates, prepositions or participles in a structured way. There are no worksheets. Writing in our household is a dynamic endeavor. We just write. Initially little attention is given to sentence structure, spelling or punctuation. We aim to just get ideas onto paper. If one of my kiddos is struggling with their actual penmanship not matching the speed of their flowing ideas, I will transcribe their ideas for them. I write exactly what they say without editing it.

We talk a lot about words, working on rhyming couplets while young, marveling at onomatopoeia when it arises, experimenting with alliteration and consonance as they get bigger. While reading aloud, I pause to define new words we encounter. Sometimes when we discover a lot of new words, I will make a list for us. These words I then define on an index card to remind us what they mean. The kiddos love discovering new words and learning a "big" word that defines an ordinary occurrence. We spot billboards or signs with new words or quirky combinations of them. We play MadLib games coming up with parts of speech to create crazy stories.

We write a lot. I ask them to help me make lists. We write thank-you letters to family and friends. While traveling, we make sure to include writing postcards telling loved ones about what we see. We have comic layouts for them to fill up with stories and dialogue. We story tell at meal times, weaving bizarre collaborative tales that twist and turn with each speaker. A roll of the story blocks provides the prompt for other story telling or writing. And now we blog. With the addition of this digital medium, we are utilizing yet another tool in the kiddos' writing.

As a big fan of Patricia Wonderfarm, I know all these methods are paving the way for more skilled writing. Everything they do from storytelling to actually putting pen to paper are part of the writing process. They are figuring out how to organize their thoughts and ideas and present them in a coherent way. This is how we learn to write.

8 comments:

  1. That's exactly how Audrey is learning to read and write. So nice to hear you share your family's experiences

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  2. there is no better way! fill their heads up with words and rhythms and rhyme, let them mix it up and put it out there. love that you helped him begin a blog!

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  3. Heather, very inspiring, thanks!

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  4. That is great - way to go Eamon!

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  5. This is a wonderful and creative idea! I bet he loved working with you initially setting it up and now he can do what he wants when inspired. I bet he got the blogging idea from you :)

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  6. Anonymous2:42 PM

    My 10 year old son was inspired by your son's blog. How would I go about doing this - and making sure that it is just selected readers? Thanks - I am not familiar with setting up a blog! (I am at lajakuc@gmail.com)

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    1. I replied directly to you, but I want to reply here as well in case others have the same question. We used blogger, which is a google product. The blog was added under a gmail acct we created for our son. Within blogger under settings you can select private, which will remove the listing from search engines and make it unavailable publicly. Under the same subheading, you can adjust the permissions. we added friends and family to the email listing of those permitted to see the blog. HTH

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  7. I love this, Heather. All of it--and especially the fact that your son started a blog! (I, too, have been meaning to help my own boy get going with one.)

    So many great examples here. Yep, this is how we learn to write!

    Thank you for the kind link, friend!

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