Research indicates that writing, by engaging students in creating and discovering meaning, improves reading comprehension. Start this year off "write" by encouraging your students to read and write.
Write a School ABC Book:
Share with students some ABC books and explain that they will work together to create a School ABC Book. Assign a letter of the alphabet to each student, and brainstorm with students possible words for each letter. (Words must be associated with school.) Have each student write his or her word on a sheet of drawing paper and then illustrate the word. Combine the pictures to create a book.
Write a School Yearbook:
Help students become more comfortable in their new surroundings by creating a book all about your school. First, have each student create a page about himself or herself; pages might include their favorite subjects, foods, sports; family members; achievements and goals; and so on. Each page also should include a self-portrait. Then assign each student a member of the school staff and faculty and have students create similar pages for those members of the school community. Additional pages might describe and illustrate important areas of the school, such as the gym, media center, computer lab, and so on. Combine all the pages to create a "yearbook" about your school.
Write a Classroom Pattern Book: Discuss with student books that have predictable language patterns, such as Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman; Brown Bear, by Bill Martin Jr.; Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown; The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle; and Someday, by Charlotte Zolotow. Choose a pattern book to read aloud to the class, and then explain to students that they are going to make a pattern book about your classroom. Brainstorm with students the phrase they will use to make the book a pattern book, for example "Third Grade, Third Grade, On Our Way Up" or "Teacher, Teacher, Look What I've Done!" Finally, have each student write and illustrate a page about their new classroom, making sure to include the pattern phrase they've chosen. Combine the pages into a book.
Write an Autobiography
Tell students that a biography is the story of a person's life written by someone else, and that an autobiography is the story of a person's life written by the person himself or herself. Explain that a biography or autobiography should include significant dates in the person's life (birth, marriage, death, and so on), and an overview of significant events (or the description a single significant event) in the person's life. Point out that biographies and autobiographies shouldn't just list facts, however; they should make the person "come alive" for the reader. Then ask each student to write his or her own autobiography. Tell students not to include their names. Collect the autobiographies and redistribute them randomly. Ask each student to read aloud the autobiography he or she received, and challenge the rest of the class to guess whose autobiography each one is.
Write a Getting to Know You Bio Poem:
Explain to students that a bio (or biography) poem is a form of poetry that follows a particular format. Tell them they are going to use the bio poem format to write a poem about themselves. Provide students with the following instructions and format:
Provide the information asked for in each line of the poem. For lines 4 through 8, begin with the underlined word or words, and then fill in the information in parentheses with your own word or phrase. The goal is to help your teacher and classmates get to know you better.
Getting to Know You