I use writing journals to help guide my guided writing instruction. (Guided writing is just like guided reading – small groups of students grouped homogeneously by ability pulled out to work through the writing process with me at their instructional level.) Right now, we are working on my Primary Informational Writing Journal, and our topic is “On a farm, you will find…” Now, when I created this journal, this seemed like a very straight forward question.
What’s on a farm? Well, in my brain, farms have cows, goats, pigs, chickens, corn, peas, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and a big red barn with a tractor. However, I am now living in Morocco. Not all of these things are found on a farm in Morocco, but some other really important things are – like donkeys (to till the land and pull the cart to the souk), sheep (that are fattening up and preparing for Eid al Adha). peacocks (don’t know why these are on a farm, but all of my kids swear that’s where they belong!), watermelon, pomegranate trees, lemon trees and plenty of olives!
Talking to my kids about this subject has been a great reminder of how much background knowledge can impact the picture a child has in their mind when we talk about any subject. Since they bring this background knowledge to the books they read and the discussions we have, it is super important to be aware of our students’ background knowledge.
Now, for the all important question of the day – what’s on farms near you?