Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two Painless and Fun Ways To Do Writing Pre-Assessments

1) Summer Memories

My sister gave me this first idea.
My first read aloud of the year is Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge lives next to a nursing home, and is friends with all the residents. He really likes Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper because she has four names too. But she's losing her memory. So Wilfred goes on a quest to find out what a memory is. Through many people's opinions he finds that it's something that it's something warm, something from long ago, something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh, and something as precious as gold.
Then Wildred goes on another quest. This time, to find objects that fit all of those definitions. For example, he finds a football, which to him is as precious as gold, and a war medal that his grandfather gave him which made him sad. He presents all the objects to Miss Nancy, and she remembers her own stories that are connected to each one of Wilfred's objects.

After the story, I tell the kids that they are going to bring in their own memories... their own objects that remind them of a story from this past summer. One year I brought in my puppy's tooth as an example, because it reminded me of a really fun time I was playing with her and a sock. And then I freaked out because I found this tooth, and I thought I had pulled too hard.

The next day the children bring their summer memories.

Now they have a choice. They need to write about the story that is attached to this object, but they can do it in a number of ways:
1) As a personal narrative

2) As a newspaper article

3) As a poem (not to many children pick this option)

4) As a fiction story

After that we set aside a space in the classroom for our Summer Memory Mueseum.

1) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

My second picture book read aloud is this:

Here's how it starts out:

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now ther's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Geez! Right away I can relate to everything he said, and it even reminds me of dumber stuff I did (like accidentally put shaving cream on my toothbrush so I could brush my teeth). We've all had bad moments, so it's a great thing to write about. And if we're not the type to cling on to the bad, we have good moments too. So for the second writing pre-assessment I have the kids pick one moment- horrible or excellent- and write about it.

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