Friday, November 17, 2006

What are YOU so grumpy about?

When my pre-K niece is upset with the smallest of slights – from holding a different niece to not allowing her to have chips before dinner – she puts her nose in the air, crosses her arms high on her chest, and turns away. Of course, she then keeps peeking at you to see if you are watching……

Kids are funny that way. They give you obvious signs when they are upset and you can immediately apply any of the cures – hugs and tickles work best.

What Are YOU so Grumpy About?
by Tom Lichtenheld is full of great illustrations and runs through about 13 different “causes” of grumpiness from receiving a gift you don’t like to having to eat “adult” cereal. The illustrations add to the text by having little cartoon comments and great details. This is a book that is a great read-aloud!! Additionally, inside the front cover are many things to do to “cure” grumpiness – this is a book that literally can be devoured cover to cover!!

A group of teachers I have been working with lately have been using this book at the elementary level to work on Two-Column Notes from Step Up to Writing. Here are three different ways we used them as we tried to perfect our lessons.

The first teacher practiced reading the book aloud and having the students take notes on the left hand side of the paper for causes of grumpiness – adding details in the right hand column from both the illustrations and the their own experience. She found that 13 different causes was too many for kids to handle, so the second time she did it – she provided the students with papers that had 5 stars already placed on the left hand side. This was intended to guide the students to listen for at least five things and focus on those. A third grade teacher followed a similar model by reading the book aloud, then creating the notes together as a class using the two-column note method.

I shared the work of these teachers with another group while we were discussing the listening passage on our state ELA assessments. The common concern was that in these instances, students are asked to take notes without knowing the questions that they are going to be asked. As a result, analysis of student note taking pages indicates that they are taking pure script notes, despite the strategies that we are teaching them. Having this book conveniently in my bag – we tried an experiment.

I read the book aloud to the teachers, highlighting and drawing their attention to the pictures. They listened and watched, taking no notes. I then asked them to listen a second time and take note in any format that would work for them. After they took notes, we then worked to categorize them using two column notes. For example – Were the causes of grumpiness home or school? A person or an event? The teachers then completed the two column notes using their original versions.

We haven’t tried the second version with students yet…but have come to realize that providing an organizational structure for notes or enabling students to create their own is critical!!


Cindy O-A said...

Hi, Theresa,
Cindy O'Donnell-Allen here from Colorado. I'm writing from the National Writing Project where I've been hanging out with Bud Hunt (he and I presented together yesterday). He's shamed me into getting back on my blog because I've been slacking lately, and when I did, I noticed your comment that you've been commenting on some of my students' blogs. I just wanted to thanks! Looks like you're doing some interesting work with your students, too.

Anonymous said...

Theresa: I bought this book and wanted to know if you have anything you can send me on the note-taking since I want to try it with my kids. Thanks!!!