Monday, September 29, 2014

Simple, Important Instruction in Grade 1: The Handmade Book

Jaslene showing the cover of her new book (Newark, NJ)
I was reminded that simple is often best in matters of instruction. I was able to model today what one-on-one book making looks like in grade 1 and how a 6-minute 'lesson' can be used to teach a child reading, writing, and phonics that they need, while building on knowledge and skills they have. This lesson is based on a modified Language Experience Approach.

Today, six-year-old Jaslene helped me model what comprises a quick book making project. Jaslene and I met and she selected a book type (flip book, 8-page booklet) and then we discussed what story she might like to tell. Jaslene was all about playing and her book illustrated what she most likes to do: play with friends, play with her dolls, and play with her dog.  Because the child dictates the topic and each sentence, they are better able to reread their work.  This is particularly important for beginning readers.

Jaslene's new book (Newark, NJ)
Each page in the book contains one or more sentences that Jaslene dictated and she or I wrote. I began recording her ideas on the opening pages and turned that process over to her as we progressed. Jaslene also used scrap paper to practice writing tricky words.  She created the cover after thinking about the general topic of her book.

She reread each page (in her case without using a finger to match the text) and then the entire book. She did this with great joy.  Buried within this fun are opportunities for Jaslene to learn foundational skills (sight words, letter/sound combinations, letter formation, spacing, appropriate end punctuation) and composing skills (planning what you want to say, checking to see if what you wanted to say is written, importance of rereading, considering audience when writing, creating illustrations that extend meaning). It also provided me and her teacher with an opportunity to learn about Jaslene and her capacities as a reader and writer.

Children love to make and reread their books and this interest helps them build reading and writing fluency, as well as item knowledge.  By the end of the center time in this first grade classroom, Jaslene had authored and  shared her book with several friends, all of whom wanted to make their own books. Jaslene's book will travel home with her (she plans to read it to her dog who I'm told will be the subject of her next book) and eventually will be included in the classroom library so her friends can borrow it to read. As there are iPads employed in this classroom she might even want to involve a friend in making an audio recording of her book.

In order to make a more high tech version of the handmade book, children might want to use an app like Doodlecast where they can draw and narrate their books and then share these with others.

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