Sunday, April 5, 2009


Over the past several weeks we have been exploring non fiction books during reading workshop. I can state with confidence that our students are gaining expertise in identifying features of non fiction texts such as photographs, table of contents, diagrams, glossary and headers.

Now that they have been immersed in the 'reading of' we have began to delve into the 'writing of' factual material.  The key is to allow the students to choose a topic that is of interest to them and facilitate their learning, deepen their understanding and provide shape, structure & support.

To that end we asked our class to brainstorm ideas about possible topics.

Here is the list they created:
  1. Animals
  2. Lightning
  3. Dinosaurs
  4. Tigers
  5. Sea Lions
  6. Water
  7. Eyes
  8. Nail Polish
  9. Sushi 
  10. Makeup
And my personal favorite because it seems so un first-grade like...

High Heels!

In the end, high heels didn't make the final cut but I'm sure that would have been an interesting exploration.  


lettuce said...

oh gary, i'm disappointed you didn't get High Heels in there

English lit. and lang. seem to be taught much more broadly over here than when i was a child - in a good way - incorporating all sorts of non-fiction writing. Its great to be starting with that so young

Reya Mellicker said...

Great list! I would love to learn about any of those topics including high heels.

You are SO good!

Gary said...

Letty - Well, at least makeup made the final cut and that should be an interesting and new topic to explore. I have a friend who is a makeup artist and am going to invite her to speak with the class. Maybe do a little demo or something. And of course there is stage makeup, clown makeup, halloween makeup and even drag ;)

Reya - Most of the choices didn't surprise me but eyes, lightning, makeup and high heels were novel ones. In the end the children chose makeup, tigers and oh, lordy, I can't remember. The last group changed their mind so many times I am unsure of their 'final' decision.

But anyone with expertise in these areas is welcome to come present.

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Well, you can certainly tell that list was developed by kiddos in Manhattan (or San Francisco). Something tells me you wouldn't find youngsters of the same age in Arkansas listing the same things.

Barbara said...

I'm amazed at children doing research projects in the first grade. I love the way you made the topic choices so democratic.

WAT said...

High Heels? That's the name of a zany naughty movie by Spanish director Almodóvar.

Animals and dinosaurs are excellent for kids, because they are fascinating topics when you're that age. Actually, they're still quite fascinating even today that I'm an adult.


I won't say more.

Nabeel said...

My vote is for Dinosaurs. Lightning is also a very interesting phenomenon. Sushi, High heels, make up serve no purpose to me. Science among american students is missing. Many adults can't even point Iraq on a world map ... probably because they are reading books about high heels, sushi and clown makeup. You have a responsibility man so raise your standard a bit. You gotta let students grow their imagination.

Gary said...

Nabeel - Thanks for your input and comments. I appreciate it.

The purpose of the nonfiction study in first grade does not really have to do so much with the topic choice itself as it does with the process of discovery. Where to find new information & how to form relevant questions. It is learning about resources that come not just from books or computer but also from explorations via trips and using experts in whichever field to interview, etc.

I feel strongly that it is my obligation to respect student interest and help facilitate their learning through it.

And one thing that I can assure you is that I foster a healthy imagination in every student that I have been privileged to teach.


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