What is the word of the day? Well for first graders in room 13 it's not just about the word, it's all about living the life of writers. It's about possibilities and a playful look at language, Most importantly, it's our warm up for writing workshop.
If you've participated in the Great Valley Writing Project's Summer Invitational Institute you know about word of the day. Kathy Harvey was the keeper of words during my Great Valley Summer Institute. Each day she revealed the word of the day and we wrote whatever we wanted for about five to ten minutes. Next, volunteers shared their writing with the group. The warm regard and support for each other encouraged us to take risks and for me, the risk was sharing in front of a group. Sharing had rewards--feedback which often was the catalyst to pursue a topic further. For me it led to my narrative for our summer anthology.
I knew that Word of the Day should have a special place in the classroom. However, I didn't know how to start it in first grade, a grade I hadn't taught before. It wasn't until my third year teaching first grade that I placed it prominently in our day--first thing every day. Now Word of the Day happens without fail, even on Tuesdays when we only have a few minutes to spare before heading out for PE. Why did it take so long for me to implement this wonderful writing activity? I don't know, but persistence is the key. You need to give it time and you will see the value as you listen to students share or look over their shoulders and see the growth they make.
My recipe for word of the day requires very little preparation. You will need one word for each day, paper, and pencils. A word of the day journal or space in a writer's notebook will help keep the seeds for stories in a safe place for further exploration.
Students enter the classroom each day and record the word of the day and the date. Then they write whatever the word conjures up for them. Everyone shares their writing with an assigned partner at their tables. Then the helper for the day at each table may share using the class microphone--a new spin that is very popular!