Ruby Tuesday: Writing Project

17.Aug.2009 001

When I discovered that I have two non-readers, A-Girl and D-Boy, in my sixth-grade language arts class, I began thinking of ways to include them as fully as possible in our literacy activities. I decided to have the kids, all of them, play with rhymes and make couplets, because poetry that rhymes is just plain fun. (I can still recite “Eletelephony,” which I memorized when I was in elementary school about 2,000 years ago.)

We spent some time coming up with several lists of words that rhyme, and kept it simple: day, may, way, play, say, etc. Then we experimented with writing couplets. Again, I kept it simple, asking the students to fill in only the last word of a couplet I had created, using the list of rhyming words that we had already generated together. Even my non-readers could copy the couplets from the board and recite them, because the musicality of poetry sticks with your ear a lot longer than pedestrian prose. (Why do you think Shakespeare has lasted so long?)

As an extension of this activity, I decided that we could collaborate and write a book of couplets together. The book I envisioned would contain lots of repetition so that A-Girl and D-Boy would, sooner or later, start catching on to the correlation between the symbols on the page and the sounds we made with our mouths. The book would also be illustrated by the students.

At first, I thought that I’d look at all the students’ illustrations and use only the very best one for each couplet in the book. I quickly abandoned that idea in favor of each student’s making his or her own book, illustrating all the couplets.

Red-shirted Glenn, whom you see in the illustration, is introduced on one page of our book that, when finished, will be twenty-eight or thirty pages long. We hope to have it “published” and ready for the parents to read by Back-to-School Night on the 26th.

So far, the kids are having fun with this writing project—and so am I!

For more Ruby Tuesday photos, click here.

Posted on August 17, 2009, in illiteracy, my digital photos, Ruby Tuesday, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Cute couplet. I have raised a few pigs, and Glenn could have had a hard time keeping them in! [big smile!]

  2. What a fun idea! I’m sure your students (& their parents) will treasure their books for years to come.

  3. I have quite a bit of success at teaching upper grade non-readers to read, and like you, I generally start them out with poetry. I have found repeatedly that these students somehow missed the information that letter sounds aren’t random and can be decoded. I usually start teaching individual sounds with the letters of their names.

  4. What a fantastic idea!! congrats on that fun project.

  5. all a child needs is a teacher who inspires
    and sounds like they have one in you

    the drawing is wonderful
    and the book is a great idea

  6. What a fun way to teach! My d-i-l is an early childhood literacy advocate. She has her own special pre-school program that prepares children for a lifetime of loving books and reading. We’re always encouraged to read things like you have shared.Thank you for what you’re doing in the lives in these children.

  7. I do hope this will help those children learn to love reading. It still amazes me that a child can make it to sixth grade and still not be able to read… how does this happen?

  8. Finding innovative ways to generate interest, opportunity, and success for all kids in reading and writing is wonderful ;–)
    Hugs and blessings,

  9. congratulations – you are brillian, magical teacher, for divining ways to let everybody feel welcome and loved…

  10. How I love and adore committed and caring teachers.
    They can make wonders happen and rivers changing their courses.
    Twenty years from now you’ll probably reap what you have sowed now.
    I bet Glen and company have a great future waiting for them because of you.
    From Felisol

  11. You are a very dedicated teacher! Congratulations on such an awesome project!

  12. dear magical teacher,
    thank you so much for your visit and for your leaving me a cute little poem about that tent.
    do you think you could write a little one about my little red car?
    that little red car gets so jealous at times. it even wants me to make it its own blog!
    when i looked over your blog, i just knew that my felisol would love it and here i found her!
    i loved your post about similes
    nice to meet you…love terry[teresa] from southern ontario

  13. those children are so lucky to have you as a teacher. they may have trouble reading now but i expect things will improve for them. my daughter struggled for years and it wasn’t until trade school, working and then college that reading started coming together for her. now she is reading plato, dante, machiavelli, chaucer, etc. this semester and loving it. thank God for good and inspirational teachers.

  14. M.M.T, this is certainly a very pretty picture. I don’t read your blog regularly, I should. My (precosious) sixth grade granddaughter wrote a little story for my blog, I think she has an illustration.
    I am glad you are reaching those non-readers. Adi, my beagle dog, is a pet therapy dog. One year we tutored a sixth grade young fellow who was slated to not pass his state reading test.
    He did pass his test. I just loved to watch him read to Adi. They both would lay on the floor; T. would have his arm draped over Adi’s neck and shoulder. Every now and then he would involuntarily stroke Adi while reading to her.
    Kids neeed to read out loud for teachers to know where their reading progress has taken them. Of course in class is where this is expected as well as critical practiing, but some children don’t like to read that way.
    This might be because of an impediment of some sort which they feel other students will make fun of them or it might be because they know their reading skill is inferior and would rather remain silent. And other reasons, some of which is lack of capabilthy.

    At any rate, a lot of them who won’t read out loud in front of others will read to a dog. The idea is that they will gain self conficence along with the reading improvement.
    BTW, the link above is Adi’s Meme. She is now a graduate reader and only reads with seniors in our local senior assisted liveing residents. 🙂

  15. Thank you for telling us this, and I hope the books will be ready for the parents. MB

  16. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  17. You would be a wonderful teacher for my daughter. She has trouble learning to read, but if the teacher approaches her in a fun way, like with eletelephony (I think I remember that), she gets it.

  18. Does non-reader means “can not read” or “don’t like to read a lot”? I like the illustration a lot. I bought rhyme cards and have my 7 year old write one story every day in which he has to use all the rhyming words on the card in a sentence. My five years old wants to do it too – he just copies the words from the card 🙂 English is interesting language to read – much guessing is needed!

  19. What a beautiful project! If you can grasp an idea, and describe what you see, the creativity of writing comes out. Reading and writing go together so we,,. getting children to want to read and explore the writer’s creativity, they will really want to. Inspiring!

  20. I’m impressed with this wonderful project! Bravo!

  21. Magical Mystery Teacher, what an extraordinary educational project! An excellent way to make reading fun! I read you haiku I think it was at leora’s place and loved it…About the one red leaf for Ruby Tuesday. 🙂

  22. You are dynamic! What a blessing to all who pass through your classroom each year. I am a retired teacher and can easily recognize great dedication….and I certainly see it here!

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