Today is the second day of school. I will be doing this writing activity every day until I have learned about all the students in my class. The previous time we did the lesson, I used myself as the star student to model the interview process. Today I will interview a student. We will also do this during the year when we get an new student. It is a fun way to learn about new friends.
This writing activity will be the first genre for my students to learn to write. We will only be drawing and labeling to make it appropriate for beginning writers. This activity is fun and exciting for my students to do because it is about them. Being an informative writing activity I will be expecting lots of correct details which will be difficult for my students. My students like to draw about themselves or their families. By the end of the five or more weeks it takes to do this writing assignment, my students will become familiar with classroom procedures as well as my writing expectations. Their drawings will improve and they will begin to label and try to write simple sentences.
"I want you to look around at all your new friends. You are all new to coming to school and I hope you will all become good friends. I would like to teach you a fun song about friends."
I teach the song "Friends". We sing it in both English and Spanish and do the hand motions. This writing activity is an introduction to the writing process. We are all friends and will learn about each other through this activity. The first day of school I do myself as Star Student to model how we will do the activity.
"I will choose a friend with my name sticks to be the Star Student for today. We will choose a friend to learn about every day until we know everybody in our class. I will keep a list on the board so I don't leave anyone out. Oh, I chose Adrian to be our first Star Student. Adrian, come sit in the teacher's chair while we make you poster."
Starting on the second day, they know know what to expect and are eager to participate. I choose from my bucket of name sticks as to which student is star student today. The student sits in my chair next to the easel while we ask questions and draw his picture.
I use blank chart paper to draw my star students. I save them all and we occassionaly look through them and pick out the character, setting, event in the drawing. On the last day of school I hang all the pictures around the room. After our little celebration on the last day, they can take their picture home with them.
Using markers, I write "Start Student" at the top of the page. As I write I say the letter names. Later they can tell you the letter names with out prompting.
I put a few little stars above the title.
I ask the student what his/her favorite color is.
Using their favorite color, I write their name at the bottom of the paper.
On the side of the paper I write the answer to the following questions;
* favorite color
* how many brothers
* how many sisters
* what pets do they have
* what's their favorite thing to eat
* What do they like to do
I draw a circle for the head to begin the activity. This gives us a starting place. I pull name sticks one at a time and ask; What could we add to this picture to make it look like ___? This is a great activity for my ELL to learn/review body parts vocabulary. I draw what ever they say. I try to expand the conversation. If they say hair, I ask, what color is her hair? Is it dark or light? Is is long like ___? Or is it short like ____? Having this conversation helps them with describing and expanding the details in their own drawings. When the body is all done, and I have name sticks left, we move on to setting and event details. If the student likes to ride a bike, where would he be riding? Could it be in the park, by his house . . .
When everyone has had a turn, we review the name, answers and I prompt them or suggest other details to make it complete. I try to encourage adding details that only pertain to the setting and event. I tell them to not add "Froo, Froo", these are things that don't belong in the drawing. Not all drawings need rainbows or hearts.
Students are sent to their tables to draw the Start Student. I have to model how to draw a head, shirt, pants. I work with those who have fine motor skill difficulties. Every day I see improvement. I encourage the higher students to write Start Student at the top and the student's name at the bottom. I am working hard to have their drawings of a person not be a circle with two sticks coming out of them. I also encourage the Rule of 5. They can't just grab a black crayon a scribble. Our drawings have to have appropriate colors, if the shirt is blue, we color it blue. I like to have 5 colors or more in their pictures. This forces them to revisit the original drawing to see if there is green grass or if the setting was inside or out.
At the beginning of the year we wrap up this lesson with each student standing up and proudly displaying his/her drawing. Then I staple all the drawings into a cover that has the student's name and the date. The star student for today gets to take their book home. They are all so proud of their books. Sometimes I will keep the book for a day so I can make copies for their portfolio and send it home the next day.