Over the past 4 weeks, I have been Flex-grouping with the first grade team during our English Language Arts block. I have taken a group of 8 students reading at a specific reading level and have implemented the Daily 5 rotations in my classroom. Each student visits a Daily 5 rotation and Guided reading with me each day. We have slowly been implementing the rotations each week and the last rotation that needed to be implemented was the “Work on Writing”. Most students that I work with are not excited about writing as they see it as a chore. Students engaged in writing in many ways but some see the process of writing as daunting and complicated.
We have been working on the identifying key details in a text and asking and asking questions about the text (RL. 1.1/ 1.2/1.3) . I wanted to move away from the rote lesson of reading a text and then asking questions about the text.
Most years I create a wall with the objectives for each lesson. An example of the objective that I would use for this lesson would look like:
- Content Objective: Readers describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
- Language Objective: I can describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details from the text.
There is not much difference between the two objectives, but I would read the objectives to the students and then continue with the lesson. I wanted to change-up the teaching of the objectives and practice with the students in a new way.
A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to Story Cubes during one of our classes. Most of the teachers in the class were very excited about this learning tool and I ordered a set for my students. I decided to try them out and it was a HUGE SUCCESS!!!
I started with the students on the carpet. I introduced the Story Cubes and we started with the Once Upon a Time set. I rolled all the dice at the same time and a student volunteered to start the story. As the student used the pictures to tell the story, other students joined in. As he introduced the characters, we discussed the questioning words that are aligned to ask about characters, setting, major events and so on. After he had used 4 dice another student continued the story. They were all so excited and wanted to jump into the storytelling.
Next each student rolled a dice and then we started the storytelling the opposite way. This time the students could only use 1 dice to add-on to the story. They loved this and kept reviewing what had happened earlier and then adding to the story. Not one student went completely off and the story made sense.
After we had completed the group introduction, these were a couple quotes I heard:
“This is the best class ever.”
“I love writing stories”
“It was so fun working together.”
“That was the funniest story I have ever heard”
We then talked about writing new stories. I let the children pick which of the 3 story cube sets the students wanted to use. Two students wanted to use the Voyager set, four boys wanted the Action pack and one little boy wanted to continuing using the Once Upon a Time. I did not give any guidelines, but let them roll and get started.
The excitement on their faces was wonderful. It was such a great feeling to sit back and observe the students engaged in storytelling. They were working together, helping each other spell words, rereading their writing to check to see if they had included all of the cubes. I have never witnessed so many children actively engaged in their writing, editing, adding more details and most of all, being so PROUD of what they had written.
Not one child thought of the activity as a chore, but rather it was an exciting way to write a story.
We ran out of time and had to end our writing, but discussed that we would be returning to the activity. As we were packing up, these were a couple quotes I heard:
“I love writing.”
“I am a writer and I want to write a book.”
“It was so easy to come up with an idea.”
“Your story was awesome and so funny to me. I was laughing.”
“I’m not finished writing, I have so much more to add.”
One of the boys stopped me twice during the day to ask if we were going to continue the activity tomorrow “because it was so fun.”
Today was a good day. My students loved learning and you could tell by how happy they were with themselves. I cannot wait to continue this activity and to find new ways to get students that excited everyday!