Saturday, November 6, 2010

Writing Using The Cow That Went Oink as a Mentor Text

The essential questions for this unit of study are:

clip_image001 How does reading help me become a better writer?

clip_image001[1] What can I learn from other authors and illustrators?

clip_image001[2] How can I make use of the craft of other authors and illustrators in my writing and drawing?

The Cow That Went Oink


Bernard Most


This week we studied the text, The Cow That Went Oink by Bernard Most. This choice is for the following reasons:

· Most students have experiences with farm animals (familiarity and prior knowledge)

· The structure depends on speech bubbles to carry some of the message (this made an allowance for my students who cannot read a lot of text to participate)

· The illustrations support the text

· There is a surprise beginning (the author takes what we know and rearranges it)

· There is an overriding theme of friendship and resiliency

· The problem and solution are very apparent

Monday-I read the book and students listened. There was a follow-up conversation about the book. Many students had not heard this story before.

Tuesday-I read the book again and some students joined in (the text is more difficult than some of our previous texts). I asked students what they noticed about this book. They listed the following: The word oink is in a different color in the title. The speech bubbles of the cow and the pig are colored yellow and purple so you know who is talking. There is a problem and a solution. There are special marks to show that the cow’s tail is moving. There are speech bubbles. The other animals make fun of the cow and the pig because they are different. The cow and the pig help each other. The cow and the pig have the last laugh because they can do something the other animals cannot do in the end.

Thursday-Students read the book chorally with the class leaders doing the page turning and pointing. I reminded the students we would be writing a book using some of Bernard Most’s writing craft on Friday. I asked all children to be thinking about what they could write about and to bring those ideas to school with them on Friday. At this point, a student shared that Bernard Most and Lois Ehlert made the same use of the word and in their stories! She was referring to using and multiple times to extend a long list (rather than commas). That provided great joy in this teacher’s heart!

Friday-Our time was shorter on Friday because we had a theatre group present Beauty and the Beast. I was worried that it would be difficult for us to produce a text in the small amount of time we had left. I asked students for three nominations of story ideas. They provided three different scenarios: A sweet shark and a mean dolphin, a person and a sheep swapping roles, and a person who could fly and a plane that could not. We voted on the three suggestions. The plane/person won overwhelmingly. We had to shorten the time we spent on revision but student’s revised as we wrote and still came up with a text that was full of craft choices similar to Bernard Most. I provided scaffolds where needed to keep their story going but once again, they amazed me with their sense of story.

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The Person Who Could Fly


Mrs. Brown’s Grade One

(Pg 1) One day…there was a person who was flying. (Mrs. B “Can you show what this looks like?) His arms were flapping and his legs were kicking.

(Pg 2) He was in the air flying over the state of California, heading to Mexico.

(3) A ( Mrs. B: “What is a group of geese called?”) flock  geese.(I know it is a gaggle but the kids don’t.) of geese were laughing at him. “That’s hilarious,” said all the geese. The students are going to put, “Honk-ha, Honk-ha” in speech bubbles on this page like Bernard Most did in his book.

(4) (Mrs. B: “I am going to give you a transition word to help you move the story on…) Meanwhile…there was an airplane at an airport in Mexico. He was sitting on the runway.

(5) He was very, very (Mrs. B: “What is another word for sad?”) upset. He could not fly. He didn’t know why. He was stranded.

(6) The plane mechanics laughed at the plane. “That’s hilarious,” said the mechanics. The students are going to place “Bang-ha, Bang-ha” in speech bubbles on this page.

(7) (Mrs. B: “Can anyone think of another transition word?”) Later on…the flying person landed in Mexico. He (Mrs. B: “Does anyone know what it is called when a plane moves on the ground?”) taxied over beside the plane that could not fly.

(8) “What’s wrong, Plane?” asked the person.

“I can’t fly. I’m stranded and I don’t know why!”

(9) “Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to fly, said the flying man. (Mrs. B: “Why might the plane be unable to fly?) Let me check your gas tank.” “NO GAS!” (This is going to be in a speech bubble)

(10) The flying man called to the mechanics, “Get a fuel truck over here right now!” The fuel truck backed up and put a (Mrs. B: “Can you think of the name of the thing you put in a gas tank? It is not called a hose.”) nozzle into the plane’s tank.

The flying man said, “You’re all filled up and you can fly now.”

“Thank you, said the plane, you don’t have to fly anymore. I will give you a ride.” (Mrs. B: “How do you want to wrap this story up? What will you write to let the reader know the story is over?”)

And the man never flew on his own again and the plane was never stranded again.

Note: The bold text is what I said as the children dictated the story. We had to keep the story moving to get it done. I tried to only follow their lead, encouraging word choice, pacing, and understanding along the way. The italicized text is the revision the children made as they went along. A thumbs up or down were given to each revision for approval or disapproval.

Bernard Most showed my students how to take what they know to be true and turn it upside down. He changed the norm and created a fun, imaginative story. My students realized, as the authors, they do not have to write about what is real. They can create anything they want, even talking planes and flying men who eventually become friends.

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