Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mo Willems

    The next author we studied was Mo Willems.We selected him to teach our students how to incorporate dialogue in their writing as well as the characters thinking.  Not only that but his books are full of great print traits....like bold text....large text to show anger, repeated use of exclamation marks, so forth and so on.

After we read each book we charted the authors trait on our class chart. The students began to notice that this author had a variety of traits that he used in his print to show emotions. Such as all capital letters which they began to use in their writing right away. We also added an additional column to this chart for genre. We realized we hadn't been paying attention to this but it was something we definitely wanted our students to know especially since we would be starting on Non fiction writing in a couple of months.

Using Mo Willems style of writing my students created their own pigeon stories. I originally gave them comic book boxes to write their stories in thinking this would be enough. But their stories were so creative that I decided to create a book cover in which to hold their wonderful writing. We ended up with these great pigeon book covers which we made  during our art time. They came out so cute and each one so different even though they used my pattern. They were so cute that our principal took a couple and has them up on his wall in his office!
My students love that pigeon and they love reading his books and being able to read with expression. They were happily surprised to find out that he was the author of the Knuffle Bunny series as well. They especially loved discovering how Mo Willems puts the pigeon in all his other books in one way or another. When they first saw it in the Knuffle Bunny book the look on their faces was priceless. During independent reading they all rushed to look at the other books and see if they could spot the pigeon as well. One of my students went to the Laura Numeroff books to see if she had done it as well.  I can't wait until someone discovers it in the David Shannon books.
Enough of that though, here is how I used the Knuffle Bunny series. I used these books as a model of realistic fiction. I pointed out to the students how in these books the setting were all real places but the characters were cartoon.  I then had the students think of a story they wanted to tell. They had to keep in mind the setting of the story. Once their story was written the students selected appropriate settings which I Googled and printed for them. They added these to their writing and then added the characters for their story by drawing them.

We are writing in Spanish this month and though the majority of the Knuffle Bunny series were only available in English you can see that the traits of the authors use of text transferred to their Spanish writing. My students were incorporating dialogue, as well as repeated punctuation. This  student also used inner thinking which was great!! This activity also gave me insight into what my students thought setting was. Some of them wanted a different picture for almost every sentence which I quickly pointed out would not be possible. It would be easy to have pre-selected pictures ahead of time but I think having the students come up with their own setting was more authentic. I will definitely do this activity again next year.

1 comment:

  1. I love, love, love this post! Mo Willems has always been a favorite of mine and a hit with my students and my own girls. Have you read his Elephant and Piggy books? They are great early readers and have very few words. They are not available yet in Spanish but with so little text, your students can easily infer the meaning with the awesome pictures. I'm pinning your chart "Podemos escribir como Mo Willems". LOVE IT! :)