Monday, February 11, 2008

Writing and Blogging Information

Dear Parents and Families,

We hope your child has kept you informed about the details of life in our classroom. Be sure to ask your child for stories about our fun at school and most of all, retelling stories of time with each other. Research has shown that one of the most important things you, as a parent, can do to support your child’s reading and writing is to encourage your child to tell you stories of his or her day. Ask the questions that set children up to tell these stories in *great* detail: “How, exactly, did it start?” “Then what happened?” “Help me picture it. What happened next?” “What did she say?” “What did you do?”

Every day that we are writing, we always begin with teaching children some of the skills they need to know to become better writers. Recently, we have been teaching children how to write stories about the little events of their lives (their personal narratives). We are hoping that instead of writing “all about my dog,” a child will write the story of losing her shoe and finding it in the dog’s bed, and that instead of writing all about a friend who is moving, a child will zoom in and chronicle the step-by-step story of saying good-bye and seeing the moving van pull away. Every child learns to add details to his or her story, and the children return to their drafts to add details both to their pictures and to their words. Those details make a world of difference in the writing.

The children will be writing lots and lots of stories, and before long it will be time for them to choose one story to fix up and fancy up for publication. For our publication, we will be piloting a new way to ameliorate our writing program by sharing our interests and sharing our writing with a real audience, you! We will be posting their writing to our weblog.A weblog, or blog as they are commonly called, is a special type of web page that can be created and easily updated using a web browser. Each new entry has its own date stamp. Each entry has a comments section where visitors to the blog may leave comments to the author. When we teach a writing lesson, students will have an opportunity to make an entry for the blog. The students usually choose the topic, but they need to make use of the skills taught in our lesson to help craft their writing. The emphasis is on the quality, not the quantity of what they write. When a student is ready for publishing, students will word process their work. Students may also work from home! We will then post the blog entry.Having a real audience is one of the key components to this pilot program. In addition to receiving comments from the teachers, they are also able to receive comments from parents, grandparents, family, friends and classmates. Parents are encouraged to visit the blog and respond to the writing. Potentially, anyone on the internet could respond to our blogs, however, it is not likely that the world at large will stumble across the blog.This blogging project is designed to minimize any security risk to your child. The only personally identifying information included in the blog will be their first names. There will be no mention of our school name or our location. Students are allowed to post their interests and opinions, but not their age, e-mail addresses photographs of themselves, or other sensitive information. We will be using a district endorsed site for blogging, Each child will receive a user name and password. After we have posted something on our blog, we will invite you to comment on their writing.

We will be sending home a district required permission packet that is mandatory for all families to sign before we may begin. Please read and sign and return to school. Away we blog!

Warmest Regards,

Lynnea West and Amby Takekawa

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