Monday, January 24, 2011

Project 1- Analysis

Meaning and Ownership
Chrissy is my fourth grade buddy this quarter in my literacy class.  I spend some time talk with her and discovered that she really seems to enjoy spending time with animals, especially cats.  She likes to work alone in the class and seems to enjoy reading mystery and adventure stories.  She thinks of herself as a good writer but particularly likes when the class does science.

She showed me several pieces of her writing and I have chosen to look at her final copy of a story that she wrote about herself.  The following is a typed version of her work; all spelling and grammar errors have been preserved.

Chrissy in Fourth Grade
Hey! I am going to show you what I am like in school. I am nice. I do my homework and I like to work alone.
First, my third grade teacher thinks I’m a nice kid. I am great at math.  I am good in reading and I like science.
Next, I do my homework.  I finish my math. I finish reading and I finish spelling.
Third, I like to work alone.  I like to write alone.  I like reading alone and I like to practice spelling alone.
As you can see, I’m a neat kid.  I am nice, I do my homework, and I like to work alone.  I promise to use my brain so I can learn.

6 Traits of Writing

Chrissy appears to understand most of the six traits of writing.  Looking at each section of the six traits she appears to understand more areas better than others.  She does have an IEP for her hearing impairment which may have an impact on her work.

Her ideas show that the topic is about her in school and seems to be fairly tapered and controllable.  She attempts to support some of her work but seems to have difficulty providing a lot of evidence.  For instance, she writes that she is great at math but does not tell the audience why she thinks this. However, she also lets the audience know that she doesn’t like to work with others and prefers to be alone.  She backs this information up by explaining what subjects she likes to work alone with.  She seems to be drawing on her experiences in her past time of what school is like but seems to have some difficulty going from general observations to specifics.

Chrissy had her work in a five paragraph essay format.  She introduced the reader to herself and gave clues as to what will come in the body paragraphs and her conclusion reinforced her ideas. She tried to use some transitions that sometimes worked and other times did not.  she has a clear title that was not restated stated in her writing.

The purpose of the paper that Chrissy wrote seems to be fairly clear.  It seems that the goal of the assignment was to write to write about yourself as a student in school.  She was able to connect with the audience in an earnest, pleasing, and personal way by explaining that she prefers to work alone and talks about why she enjoy doing.  Her voice is very strong throughout this piece of writing.

The word choice Chrissy used was adequate and correct in a general sense but do not have a lot of pizazz to them.  She clearly attempted to use colorful language at the start of each new paragraph by trying to use different words each time such as saying “next” or “third”.  The words and phrases are functional but have only one or two small reasonable instants.  She doesn’t use very many descriptive words but seems to have put effort into her word choice.

In Chrissy’s writing she seems to sentences to get the job done in a routine fashion. She tries to use some variety in her sentences but towards the end appears rushed and each line begins with “I like”.  It is possible that she wanted the repetition to prove her point but I am not completely clear if that is the case.

Chrissy has a very strong grasp on conventions in her writing.  She always uses capital letters and proper punctuation in her work.  At one point she even used an explanation point.  Her story has paragraphs throughout and each paragraph starts with a new idea and is not ended abruptly.  All her spelling is correct and her grammar is used correctly

Spelling Development
Chrissy had no spelling errors in her story about herself. However, when I gave her the spelling test of words she did miss a few of them.  Most of the words she got correct and the words she did get wrong, I believe was only because she didn’t know the word or she could not hear me correctly mostly because of her hearing impairment.  Take for example the word opposition, I do not think that Chrissy heard me correctly nor did she understand the word because she spelled it “petion” and for the word cattle she wrote “battle”.  She did miss a few suffixes but not all such as serving was “serveing” and spoiled was “spoild”.
Lesson Plan
To use pizazz and descriptive words in her writing
3.2.2 Uses language appropriate for a specific audience and purpose.  Uses precise words (e.g., vivid verbs —screeched, hovered, absorbed; specific nouns — granite, longhouse, cedar).
1.1.1 Applies more than one strategy for generating ideas and planning writing
            A picture of many different looking cats
            A piece of paper
            A pencil
            A dictionary
            A thesaurus
Instructional Strategies
1.      I will have the student look at the picture and ask her what she sees.  (I know that she likes cats so she will be intrigued by the image).
2.      I will then ask her to use descriptive words about each cat such as that cat is fat and that one is black.
3.      As the Chrissy gives me examples of each cat, I will show her that she can also use the dictionary or the thesaurus to look up more descriptive words
4.      I will ask her to write down her first choice of word and use let her choose between using the thesaurus or the dictionary to help her find other words to replace boring descriptive such as fat with other words like plump.
5.      Chrissy will make a list of descriptive and pizazz words for each cat she sees in the picture.
When the activity is finished, Chrissy will be asked to write me a story about at least two of the cats she sees in the picture.  Chrissy will be encouraged to write some of the new words that she found as well as others throughout the story to make her writing more interesting and fun.  She will be asked to circle each pizazz and descriptive word she uses in order for me to see that she understands what I was asking her to do as well as to be sure that she knows and remembers to use these kinds of words in her writing


  1. I love your idea about tying in her love of cats to your objective - way to keep your student engaged! Would your next plan include having her enhance the "Chrissy in Fourth Grade" story with her newly acquired skills? I bet she would love to show how she has "used her brain." How will you assess standard 1.1.1 (Applies more than one strategy for generating ideas and planning)?

  2. I love the way you are bringing her love of cats into your lesson plan. By bringing something personal into the lesson always gets students motivated to learn.
    You mentioned in your analysis that she has a hard time with transitions. my only suggestion is to maybe add this to your lesson plan. Maybe using strips of paper that have sentences on it and other strips of paper that have transition words on it. Then have her move these strips around to make complete sentences that include the transitions. This may help her too.

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  5. (Sorry for re-posting so much! It was pasting funny for some reason!)

    Great analysis, Tina! You mentioned that your student likes science which is great, as it provides students with many opportunities to write. I wonder if her use of descriptive words would improve if she had the opportunity to write about something she loves. Perhaps having her keep track of a writing journal for her science class would be great. My other suggestion would be to include in your lesson alternatives to using the word ‘I’. I noticed in her writing she uses ‘I’ way too much, almost at the beginning of every sentence. Perhaps have an ‘I’ limit. Only allow the students to use ‘I’ an ‘x’ amount of times to get to her to think of other words. There are many ways of writing about ourselves (and even prove a strong point in our writing) without overusing this word. This would help add some flavor to her work, as well as take away some of the monotonous tone.

    I think your lesson objective is perfect for Chrissy! It would be wonderful to teach her to use pizzazz in her writing. Not only will it allow the readers of her stories to enjoy her work, but she will also have more fun writing it. The lesson will also peak her interest from the very beginning, as you chose the topic of cats, which she loves.

    Great job!
    ~Stephanie Terilli

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  7. Thanks for an insightful analysis on Chrissy! When a student, such as Chrissy, has a hearing impairment, I think that we need to be more cautious to make sure that our assessment of his or her abilities is as accurate as it can be. In Chrissy's case, I think it would have been helpful for her (to know exactly which words she's writing down) and for you as well (so that you can get a more reliable measure of assessment) if you allowed plenty of time to say the word out loud and repeat it a few times, asking her to watch you say the words if necessary, in order to make sure that she's not feeling rushed and that she has enough time to think about how to correctly spell the word to her best abilities.

    I like that you are incorporating one of her interests (animals) into the lesson to get her interested and engaged! I was wondering how standard 1.1.1--Applies more than one strategy for generating ideas and planning writing--fits into the lesson. From what I can see, you are having her think of different ways to describe the cats, being as descriptive as she can be by utilizing her resources. Are you also planning on having her show you different ways she plans to write about the cats to meet that standard (1.1.1)?