Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Place for Wonder

My first interest in A Place of Wonder was its author, Georgia Heard. I mean, GEORGIA HEARD! Who wouldn't want to read what such a gifted writer and poet had to say?! This book that spans Kindergarten and First Grade, is a non-fiction cross between Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning , Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Primary Writing, Kathy Collins' Growing Readers, and Stephanie Parsons' First Grade Writers. Georgia Heard (whose own child was in Jennifer's classroom) and Jennifer McDonough (a looping Kindergarten to First Grade teacher) begin to establish a sense of wonder in Jennifer's Kindergarten classroom as the book opens. Each chapter in the first half of the book gives the teacher a step-by-step process for adding a piece of wonder in those early kindergarten years.

The second chapter of the book delves into teaching children to write non-fiction by building on that sense of wonder. The teachers ask the children to name their three wonders and then teach them to keep their wonderings in wonder boxes. Next they teach children to write books about heart wonders (as opposed to research wonders) such as, Where does magic come from? Why do we have families? Why do I love my dog?

The final section of the book teaches children the nuts and bolts of Nonfiction Research Wonder Writing. Some of the chapters include Trying on Topics, Writing Leads/ Beginnings, Wow Words, Using a Question-answer structure, Diagrams, etc. Although there is not a lot of new information in this book if you have read the four books in the opening paragraph, it's the way that the authors capture wonder and curiosity and teach the children to use it in their writing that is a breath of fresh air. This is an amazing addition to the primary teachers' bag of tricks as they teach non-fiction writing.

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