Playing With Words

This was fun:

When they came in this morning, we used Lookybook to study how writers use word choice with intention. I know that Theresa recommended it sometime back, and when Mike Fisher recommended it on Twitter yesterday, I decided to poke around in their archives and see what I could find. This interpretation of Jabberwocky had my morning group chatting up a storm. The word “infer” was tossed around without any heavy-handed direction from me whatsoever…..and there was much to infer in that interpretation.

I asked the kids to reflect on the time we spent in the woods yesterday and to resurrect the clippings and artifacts that they gathered while they were there. Once these independent pieces were completed, I helped them copy their “best lines” on to separate sentence strips….one per statement. I collected them, and this is what we did:

Every writer’s set of “best lines” was cut into pieces so that each word stood alone. Next, I mixed all of their words together in one jumbled pile, and I asked them to play around with the placement of the words as a group until they were able to find a poem within it:

They created and recreated and debated and revised until they reached an agreement. Several important conversations about poetry took place throughout this entire exercise, driven by arguments over whether or not specific words should be elimated (“an”, “the”, “that”), or whether the poem should possess complete sentences. At first, some of the kids had a hard time seeing how the words they chose and the order they created within their first thoughts could be changed around. It was really kinda cool watching some of them discover how new meaning could be made in the process. I said very little as they messed around with all of this…..it was a lot of fun to watch their thinking unfold. And though it took time and a concerted effort on my part to remain silent, they emerged with something wonderful. Today, I remembered how hard it can be to remain patient and keep your teacherly fingers off of the controls. I hardly believe that I managed this, but in the end, I did all right.

And so did they.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Tanya Shahen says:

    I did a similar exercise with my first graders, after we spent time observing the fish tank at school. I had small groups play around with the words, and it was interesting to see how each group came up with something different. The results were fascinating!

  2. Angela says:

    One of the joys of focusing on literacy skills is that lessons like these are so adaptable across grade levels. What a great tie in to content area work! I never considered how what I did could connect-up that way as well. Thanks for sharing…new ideas brewing as a result.

  3. joy simpson says:

    What a great idea for collaborative writing. It would work really well digitally as well – it could even be used on etherpad or google docs. It’s interesting – because they weren’t editing each others’ work but using parts of it there didn’t seem to be a problem relinquishing their own work. That will help me think about collaborative writing digitally. Thanks for sharing it.

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