Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe (Stenhouse Publishers, 2007), is a book is about teaching children to look and listen. It’s also about teaching young children the craft of writing by beginning with what they know. Drawing.
The heart of the text is this: when children have a chance to talk their stories through first, they have a better sense of what they want to put on paper. Their ability to write clear, full, detailed stories has everything to do with having the language with which to say it. In other words, “You can’t know what you mean until you hear what you say.” (Berthoff, 1982, 46)
As a response to this text, two groups of children were given the task of drawing before writing, using a mentor text. The first group of first graders read The Three Pigs. One child painted the three pigs. The next day, he wrote about each house.
Then, he made the big bad wolf using a combination of watercolor and colored pencils (teeth). He said, “paper can’t talk.” But actually, it can using an iPad app called Chatterpix! It is an approved app in our school system. Children can download the app on their iPads.
First, the child took a picture of the big bad wolf he made.
Then, followed the prompt to make a line for the wolf’s mouth (which looks like a dotted line). This was tricky as he had a difficult time determining where to start and end the mouth. He also had a hard time figuring out the direction of the mouth and started over several times as the mouth started by the ear and ended by his toe!
After that, we talked about what the wolf would say and he wrote this:
Finally, Chatterpix was reopened. The next step is to record. The child has thirty seconds to record their passage. The app prompts the reader that it will begin recording in 3, 2, 1… This was incredibly exciting for this little guy! He was so proud and could not believe that his wolf was talking!
The next step was mine. There is an export function on the app which moves the video to the photo area of the iPad. I was surprised to find that I could move the exported movie directly to Youtube! It worked! Well, with a disappointing drawback – it’s sideways! Lesson learned, be sure the camera is in the correct position!
So back to the original quote by Berthoff, I would strongly agree, students CAN know what they mean, when they hear and see what they say in both writing and speaking!
Horn, M. & Giacobbe, M.E.. (2007). Talking, Drawing, Writing. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.