Saturday, August 23, 2008

fiction v. nonfiction debate

on friday our literacy collaborative co-teacher was out of the room so the classroom teacher and i found ourselves in a literacy-dilemma. we had a little girl who was writing a story about a bear coming to her house. hmmmm.... clearly this did not really happen and so far we've been prompting the kiddos to write about their own lives. this little one would be well-served by sharing with the class and she was asking to share, but we didn't want to end up with a whole bunch of bear stories.
she had done so many good things with her text though. she had a sequential story that made sense. (the bear came to her house and her mom said "oh my gosh!" and she said, "oh no!". on the next page the bear left her a reading book. next page: she decided to follow the bear to his house where he made her cookies and then took her out for ice cream ~each event on a separate page). she was so engaged in writing the words that she wasn't even drawing the pictures. the only reason the story stopped when it did was that it was time to end writing workshop. we'll be able to walk her through ending her story naturally on monday. she was really listening to the sounds in her words and was working so hard on remembering her word wall words from last year (so impressive!!) we even had to staple another book onto her first book because she ran out of pages.

so, do we accept her fictional account of her bear or encourage her to write about something that really happened next time?
in already ready katie wood ray brings up several questions about composition. she asks,
  • is the child's book about something?
  • how has the child organized the book?
  • when the child reads it, does it sound like a book?
  • does the child read the book basically the same way every time?
  • is the book being made in the manner of other picture books?
  • what in the book shows the child understands genre?
  • how is the child representing meaning?
  • is the child intentional about what is being represented on the pages?
  • does the child engage in revision while composing?
  • is there any evidence the child is thinking ahead about what to write?
  • does the child exhibit a willingness to solve problems while writing?

she goes on with other questions, all of which i think our kiddo was doing. i learned a lot about this little girl as a writer from my conference with her. and i think her story showed that she did understand the concept of a story and it reflected books we read in the classroom (and books she is reading in guided reading~ simple texts at her level).

in chip wood's book yardsticks he lists the developmental characteristics of children at particular levels. one of the characteristics for the late-5 year old child is being more of a 'story-teller' and having a more difficult time differentiating between reality and fiction. is there a developmental stage where fiction is easier for children than non-fiction? i remember something about this from piaget, but i'll need to go check my notes to be sure.

we decided to let her share, but instead of her reading her book to the class i did it quickly and just pointed out that she used word wall words and that we stapled 2 books together because she kept going and going. we'll see what our lc coach recommends on monday!


The Science Goddess said...

What a delightful issue to have to have, I think. It will be interesting to hear more about what your team chooses to do with this student.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like she's really into her story. I would have been hesitant to make an issue of the fact that it is a made up story too. Maybe she just couldn't think of anything interesting that really happened. (I have that problem blogging sometimes!) I'm interested in hearing what happens with her next.