Friday, February 3, 2012

Let's Chat

Am I crazy?  There are days when I wonder, especially when January rolls around and I start using chat books.  I worked up the idea with a teacher friend of mine years ago.  Each child has their own pocket portfolio filled with writing paper.  Every day after school I write to each child.  I answer a question from them and ask one too.  When they write to me, they answer my question and ask one of me.  I try my hardest to fit this in every day, although you know how things are.  Time can slip away, but daily is my goal.  


Here are three pages from three separate chat books.




Speaking of time, some might wonder how I find time to write in chat books daily.  I must admit there are days when it's a stretch, especially this year when I've got 26 of them to write in.  Here's how I see it though.  While many teachers can spend 20 - 30 minutes correcting papers after school, I'll spend that time writing in chat books.  There are days when it's not always easy, but it's worth it.  Without a single worksheet, my kids learn the following things in a meaningful and authentic way all in about ten minutes time:

  • using complete sentences
  • asking questions
  • capitals
  • punctuation
  • reading and writing of sight words
  • correct spelling (If the word is on the word wall or if I've used it in their chat book, in other words, it's right in front of their nose, they have to spell it right.)
  • handwriting (This is my only handwriting practice, so I get to be really picky.)


Why else do I use chat books?  I'd like to think this helps my kids know how important it is for me to know them inside and out.  I know of past students who still have their chat books.  How often can we say that about papers that go home?  At the end of the year, it's something that kids and parents will see worthy of keeping around.





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21 comments:

  1. I think it is a great idea...you are awesome for taking the time to do it!! =)
    Jennifer
    First Grade Blue Skies

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  2. I think is this a wonderful idea! It puts all the story sharing into a written perspective. I am sure they love it.
    Jessica


    Apples and Papers

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  3. This is a PERFECT example of real, authentic writing that is meaningful to the students! You get to know the students and their chat books will be a memory keepsake for them!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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  4. Thanks for commenting Jessica. I so appreciate it!

    Sheri, your comment hits the spot. Thank you!

    Lori, thanks for having my back. It's all about authenticity, isn't it?

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  5. Wow, that is awesome! My littles would be allll over it!

    Natalie
    Teachery Tidbits

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  6. Your students are SO LUCKY to have you. This is a wonderful technique. Not many people would take the time to do it
    - Lisa
    a teachers bag of tricks

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  7. Thank you Natalie and Lisa for your thoughtful comments!

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  8. What a great idea. I love the real life application of so many skills.

    Tricia
    Queen with Class

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  9. Thank you Tricia for the thoughtful comment and dropping by.

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  10. Love this idea Tammy. Seems time consuming but totally worth it and it accomplishes a lot of things. Great way to connect with your students.

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  11. Thanks Miss Russell. It sure does take time, but since I don't have worksheets to correct, I suppose it all balances out in the end. :)

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  12. I'm back again, and this time with an award for you! Come and get it!

    Natalie
    Teachery Tidbits

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  13. I love this! I did more of this when I taught firsties, and think I need to bring it back! To help manage the amount of writing, students had to write at least once a week. I assigned days of the week to 6 or 7 kids at a time and wrote back to the student's whose day it was to turn in their book.

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  14. Miss Foote, that's a great way to manage the time issue!

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  15. I really love this idea and would like to use it. A few questions: Do you correct grammar and punctuation? What about the children who just sit and don't write? Thanks for sharing this great idea.

    Dee
    First Impressions

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  16. Thanks Dee! To answer your questions, you'll see some stickers on the front of Dakota's chat book. If the child uses correct punctuation and capitalization, I'll put a sticker on the front. If they don't, I just underline what they forgot to help draw attention to what they need to work on. For those kids who consistently don't get this concept, I will work with them on making sure they've got these things correct before they turn their chat book in. Besides my own answers and questions, that's the only other writing that I'll do in the chat books. I do though take a quick look at each child's chat book before they turn it in and have them fix other things that don't look right (ie. spelling a word wrong that's right in front of their nose or forgetting to write in a complete sentence). As for those who don't use their time wisely, I ask them, "Would you rather write now or at recess?" If they still don't get to work, then I get to choose for them. This usually works pretty well. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

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  17. What a great idea! I'm wondering if I could adapt this to Kindergarten... maybe doing it at snack time? Hmmm... any thoughts? They could draw in the beginning of the year and I can draw a little picture with a simple sentence to match, maybe it'll encourage the children to read/write! What do you think?

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    1. Stephanie, I love that this is inspiring you. I'm not totally sure how this would fit into kindergarten, but you're onto something. Personally, I don't start using the chat book idea until after Christmas. They're more ready and independent at that point, but from day one my kids are writing during writing workshop every day. I'm afraid I don't have any great answers for you, but I love that kindergarten kids write on a daily basis.

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    2. Tammy I'll keep you posted on this idea if I come up with anything interesting or fun! In my school starting on day 1 we have ALL the kids grades K-8 writing! Of course in Kindergarten writing for the first month or so of school is mostly drawings and a few labels with letter strands. I spend a lot of time in the beginning of the year focusing on "how" to write - how to sit, what good writers look like and sound like and the basics of how to draw a picture to match their stories! I'm excited to tell you that I FINALLY started my own blog so if you follow along on my journey I'll hopefully come up with a way to incorporate your chat books into my class and share it with the world (of course giving credit back to you for inspiring me!)
      Steph
      http://mamagooseskindergarden.blogspot.com/

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