"I'm going to turn this around and I want you to raise your hand if you can read me the story," I told the eager first grade faces. In my hand was an illustration that had been salvaged from a beloved book that had, literally, fallen to pieces. No words, just an illustration with an intersting story to tell because you know, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I slowly turned the picture around and the little faces turned from eager to puzzled. It was only a few seconds before a little boy in the front row said, "Your story doesn't have any words, but I can tell you want the words probably would say" and he proceeded to tell a wonderful tale.
"What a great story you've written! Boys and girls, Ian just wrote a story for us. He didn't use a pencil or paper. He just used his brain and his words. When writers write a story like this, it's called Writing Out Loud. Does anyone else want to Write Out Loud a different way?"
Kids are hard-wired to tell stories, so I wasn't surprised that so many volunteered to share their story. As we wrote, students orally generated complete sentences, which we easily revised if they didn't sound quite right. We continued the lesson, which was also the introduction of their Writing Notebooks, by establishing three ways to write a story:
1. Write Out Loud
2. Write a Picture
3. Write It Down
I've found that all students, but especially reluctant writers, are incredibly successful with Write Out Loud. If you currently use this strategy in your classroom, I would love to hear from you. How have your students responded?