Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Carnival of Stories

Excitement pulses through every hallway and classroom today as visions of the Woodland Carnival delight children and adults alike. This year's event will not disappoint. There will be armfuls of fun, food, and friendship all evening long. I look forward to seeing many happy faces this evening.

There's excitement to be had in Room 223 as well. We are digging into our study of Cynthia Rylant's work in big ways. Every student has chosen some of her books to research and explore. As a class we are examining the writing and illustrating in her books with careful eyes. We are noticing the finer details about how this author and these illustrators crafted the books. We are wondering about how the stories were constructed, the decisions Cynthia made, the decisions the illustrators made, the order in which the books were published, the lessons we might learn from the characters, and more. Each group is recording what they notice and will decide how to publish their findings and share out their learning with the rest of the class.

While we are thinking about Ms. Rylant's stories, we are also working to publish our own pieces of writing. Publishing demands a lot from us as writers. We continue to create, but we also polish. The polishing requires us to think about our readers. What might they enjoy and be interested in? What might we have to add to our writing so they understand? How do we handle spelling and punctuation out of respect for the reader? As one student observed, if Cynthia Rylant didn't think about these things, no one would like her books. Well said. If it's good enough for Cynthia, it's good enough for us.

These creating and editing tasks are not as easy as they sound. Sometimes it's pretty simple to get a word right on a weekly Word Study check but way harder to spell it correctly in our daily work. Day to day, it's the daily spelling work that really matters. Also, we find that those tricky punctuation marks are, well, kind of tricky. And what about capital letters? WOW! Yeah, it's a lot, but it's the work that we, as authors, do.

So here's to the Carnival; here's to the authors and illustrators, and here's to Seconds!

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