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Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5

Program 6: Reading/Writing Connections

Through interviews and classroom footage, this program demonstrates how teachers, including Christine Sanchez, Cristina Tijerina, Sheryl Bock, and Mark Hansen, incorporate works by published authors into their writing instruction.

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Watch the 30-minute video “Reading/Writing Connections.” Apply what you learned in “Reading Like a Writer” as you watch the extended video of classroom examples.

Answer the questions that follow each segment, jotting down your answers in your notebook or using them as discussion starters.

Christine Sanchez’s Class

Christine Sanchez’s third-graders are preparing to write about food. To introduce an important craft lesson, Christine reads a passage from Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and then shares a similar passage she has written herself. (You will find this image at the beginning of the video.)

  • What makes Farmer Boy a good writing model for Christine’s students?
  • How does Christine reinforce what the students have learned from listening to the passage from Farmer Boy?
  • Based on your experience and what you learned and observed in “Reading Like a Writer,” jot down one or two ways in which Christine might proceed with this lesson.

Christine Sanchez: Lesson Background (PDF)

Cristina Tijerina’s Class

In this excerpt from her interview, Cristina Tijerina explains why the picture book The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble is an ideal text to use with her fourth-graders. (You will find this image at the beginning of the segment, approximately five minutes into the video.)
  • What are Cristina’s reasons for using The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash?
  • In some ways, the picture book shows students what not to do in their descriptive writing. Based on your experience and what you learned and observed in “Reading Like a Writer,” think of an alternative way Cristina might use literature to teach the same concept.

Cristina Tijerina: Lesson Background (PDF)

Sheryl Block’s Class

Sheryl Block emphasizes the importance of providing students with a roadmap before they begin writing a new genre. She shares with her fourth-graders a personal narrative from Highlights magazine, and then invites a former student to read a personal narrative she published in the fourth grade. (You will find this image at the beginning of the segment, approximately seven minutes into the video.)

  • Why would Sheryl want to use the published work of students as well as that of professional writers to model a new genre for her class?
  • What are the benefits of immersing students in multiple examples of a genre?

Sheryl Block: Lesson Background (PDF)

Mark Hansen’s Class

Another way teachers can use books to inspire student writing is illustrated in Mark Hansen’s third-grade classroom. In the early part of a unit on persuasion, Mark uses the picture book The Wonderful Towers of Watts by Patricia Zelver to introduce his students to the thinking and writing strategies they will need to use in their persuasive pieces. (If you are watching the video in segments, you will find Mark’s lesson approximately 13 minutes into the video.)

  • How does the structure of Mark’s reading lend itself to the learning goals he has set for his students?
  • What do Mark’s interactions with his students and their interactions with each other reveal about his classroom and his teaching?

Mark Hansen: Lesson Background (PDF)

Looking Closer:

During the whole-class discussion of The Wonderful Towers of Watts, Mark Hansen calls on a student who speaks only Spanish. Mark responds in Spanish, clarifies and translates the student’s comments, and adds them (in English) to the chart. Mark’s natural inclusion of this student in the discussion underscores the importance of recognizing and respecting everyone’s contribution and mode of communication. If you don’t speak a student’s language, you can ask another student or an ESL teacher to translate.