Thursday, April 25, 2013

Talk Topic 6: Nonfiction Writing from the Heart

Please share with us two ideas that intrigued you from Chapter Two: Nonfiction Writing from the Heart.  

Consider discussing any of the sections: Introduction, What are your three wonders?, Wonder boxes, Heart Wonders, Books of Wonder, Books for Nonfiction writing. 

We would also love to hear how you have used some of these ideas within your program.


  1. My Pre-reading wonder ...

    I wonder what Heard and McDonough mean about non-fiction from the heart. To my mind, these are two seemingly juxtaposed ideas. Maybe I have got the wrong idea by separating mind from heart, knowledge from passion.

    My during-reading discoveries ....

    It is important to set the mood for "thinking" in a classroom full of wonder. I like how Heard and McDonough asked children to lie down, get comfortable and turn off the lights in order to do some good quality thinking and wondering. I have always been mindful of trying to add more "wait time" when posing a question. Perhaps changing location, and setting the right atmosphere will help me to slow down, and vicariously allow students to think more deeply.

    Heart wonders call on teachers to be respectful of diverse understandings and opinions of what students believe to be true. This chapter was a good reminder of the equity piece, and the necessity to create a warm, safe and inviting classroom.

    My post-reading wonder ....

    I wonder if Heard and McDonough ever got "I don't know what to write about" from students. It seems like writing about wonders would offer endless possibilities and students will likely always have something to share.

    1. Whoops ... VC made that last post! :)

    2. That's RESEARCH, oops, spell checked on my own once I posted!

  2. Hello VC and others,
    Well, I can't agree more that Wonders offer endless possibilities for writing in the classroom. Our classroom Wonder centre has become a hot Daily 5 rotation where the students can't wait to get to each week. I'm pretty sure this past week, in our 2/3 classroom, I uncovered some Heart Wonders that came out of our Reasearch Wonders on Rabbits. After lots of reasearch work on our Rabbit Wonders with the loan of Joanne's classroom rabbit, Hop, I posed the question "Why do you think it is important that we learn about rabbits?" We closed our eyes and thought for a few minutes and to my delight hands went up! "We need to know how to take care of them properly"; "We need to know how to protect them so they don't become extinct" (wild rabbits) and "We want to help them stay safe" were just a few of the responses to this question. To me, and I am new to this too, these answers will address some Heart Wonders that we will pursue.

  3. I loved this chapter for the way it cleared up a misunderstanding I've had: I thought that fiction was where writers explore their wonderment, but I connected more strongly with non-fiction, both for teaching and my own reading pleasure. I couldn't quite make sense of that. I know that reading Tony Stead's "Is That A Fact?" inspired me to try project work, even before I had exposure to current practices I now use (shared documentation, child-led inquiry, flexible groupings) I found a real connection to using research in Kindergarten.
    I find that using the project zero "making learning visible" prompt scripts has helped me help my students identify their wonders about group provocations, specifically the see/think/wonder script. In individual or small group play, when I hear rich questions ("how did you make that so tall" says one child to another) or see something new happening that shows evidence of problem-solving, I'll ask about it. If they don't offer this next step, I'll ask if they plan to share what they noticed or discovered during our "share time".
    So that misunderstanding I had, now having read about "heart wonders" and "research wonders", leads me to re categorize my favourite teaching books. Books which are not really "stories" with a narrative, but also not "factual" texts with a table of contents and index; books like "Have you seen trees?" (Joanne Oppenheim), "Birds" (Kevin Henkes), Tana Hoban's photographs of extraordinary ordinary things around New York, "A Closer Look" (Mary McCarthy) which now I see as books about heart wonders. Research wonder books are also very valuable but must accompany a desire to learn about the topic described, while those heart wonder books connect in a different way, because they are also wonderful read aloud and shared.
    Another category comes to mind, that of narrative books which touch on heart wonders. Kazuo Iwamura's book, such as the seasons series: "Hurray for Fall" (....for snow/spring/summer) and little mice books, are illustrated and detailed with natural occurrences that lead to predictions and connections. These books come out every year and lead to such rich conversations about the world around us.