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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6

Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.
Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.
First a HUGE thank you to everyone who has decided to join us on this massive PLC all centered around In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray.  These are the BEST!.
Before I dive it, I want to say this from my experience in using this book as a guide in my own writer’s workshop.  Teaching students to study and adapt techniques from other writers (illustrators) makes for a very passionate writing student. The first few chapters state the case for illustrative studies. While you can glean the meaning of these chapters from my reflections, you will want to read these chapters for yourself… then … you will want to reread them.

Chapter 1: Why Illustration Study Matters to the Development of Young Writers

In this chapter Katie Wood Ray makes the case that writing is about communicating meaning.  She suggests that teachers can “support children in making meaning both visually and verbally.” p.10   She goes on to say that the key elements of good writing can be demonstrated through illustrations… Can I get an A-MEN!  I totally agree!
Here is one part of this chapter that jumped out at me.  Katie (my BFF) says that there are two different philosophies in writers workshop.  1.  to teach “out of illustrations” and “into words” quickly.  The other perspective is to “teach into illustrations.”  Katie suggests that when students are thoughtful composers of illustrations they will, in turn, be thoughtful composers when they begin to transcribe.

Chapter 2: Building Stamina for Writing by Supporting Children’s Work as Illustrators.

In order for students to become proficient with anything (reading/writing) they need to build stamina. By inviting students to “make books,” you invite them to think about their writing over a period of days.
I shared this image in November (click here to see that post), but  I also modeled how writers think about their writing even when they are away from it…. Stamina! My students would come bustling into the classroom each morning saying, “I know what I am going to add to my book today.”
Writers workshop illustrative studies!
My “stretch the word” lesson was inspired by Deanna Jump’s Chit Chat.

 Chapter 3: Writing and Illustrating as Parallel Composing Processes

Katie talks about how the process of writing and the process of illustrating are the same.  There are endless decisions a writer makes when they compose and we want to teach students that these decisions should be purposeful.
Exposing students to a variety of illustrative techniques provides a pool of possibilities for their own writing.

Chapter 4: Teaching an Essential Habit of Mind

This chapter is about reading like a writer.  Katie uses this expression, “game knows game”.  Once we started studying the illustrative work of other authors, we became more noticing of the work they did.   I found myself having to really set the purpose for reading every time we opened a book:1. Read for fun (enjoy the language, laugh at a story…)
2. Read to learn (look for words that rhyme, learn new information…)
3. Read to notice (notice what the author and/or illustrator did) This is when we would “lean in close” as Katie says and really look.  We would linger over pages and return to them frequently.When we read to notice, I would hear something like this, “I’m noticing something, the illustrator used action marks to show him running.” of course in kindergarten it sounded like “wunning” instead of “running”.

Chapter 5: Learning Qualities of Good Writing from Illustrative Techniques

In this chapter, Katie talks about tone in writing.  She compared these two books by Nicola Davies.Ice Bear and Surprising Sharks

In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6 1 In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6 2

These two informational books have entirely different tones both in their words and illustrations.

Can emergent writers use tone in their writing?  Absolutely!  I had one student write about the death of her grandmother. (Sorry, I do not have a copy of this piece).  Her pictures showed her family with their heads hung low and they were crying.

You can see the tone of this young writer’s piece that I blogged about in April.  Click here to read it.

Chapter 6: The Writing Workshop

This is a unit about planning and implementing an illustrative study unit (I grabbed that almost directly from the subtitle) Here is the predictable framework:
1.  Gather:  A stack of books you want to study.  Enough for 1 book for every 2 students, so roughly 10 books.  These books should offer great illustrations techniques that you will want to go back to over and over again. Ok… I’ve done that
2. Expect:  Be sure the students understand what they are studying and that you expect them to try it out. Ok… I’ve done that
3. Immerse:   Shower the students with reading/talking about these books and noticings.  Ok… I’ve done that
4. Study:  Look at these books closely until you can become articulate about the text (Ok… I’ve done that) and can chart it… Uhh! Oh!  I need to do that!
5. Write: Both teachers and students need to write and be articulate about their writing.  Ok… I’ve done that

Ah-Ha!  Illustrative studies sound exactly like what you would do with writing units of study!

Katie Wood Ray has some amazing books included in this chapter.  In addition to these books, I could include these:

I love this first book. It is a totally wordless book.  This engaging story is totally told through the illustrations,  I KNOW this will be a book we read all year.  The Red Book by Barbara Lehman

In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6 3
Click on the book to find the source
Here is an inside view… LOVE it!
Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.  
Hilarious book! Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton.  George has trouble being good.  Basically, throughout the book, he makes bad choices.  Why I like this book is the author/illustrators use of color.   On pages where George is reminding himself to be good, there is a white background.  Then when the trouble starts, the background has bold colors.
In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6 4
Click on the book to find the source
Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.
Can you tell I am a dog lover?
The first page of this book says this, “When I was five, I said, ‘I’m an artist.  I need to paint and draw every day.'”  This is My Dog Thinks I’m a Genius by Harriet Ziefert.
Title is written in paint… I can do a lesson on thoughtful book covers.
In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6 5
Click on the book to find the source
I am noticing that the illustrator chose to bring the paintbrushes into the foreground.  This gives the feeling that this boy is surrounded by art.  And that every inch of his room is filled with evidence of his art passion.
Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.
One last book!  This may be one of my all-time favorites.  Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne.  This totally belongs in the study.  If you are not familiar with this book, it is about 4 people who go to the park (and they all interact with each other).  The book is divided into 4 sections.  Each section is told by a different person in the park with their own perspective.  The illustrations have a different tone to match the personality of the characters… Love it!
In Pictures and In Words Chapters 1 to 6 6
Click on the book to find the source.
Sadly, this book is at school so I don’t have any photos to show you. I will try to grab it this week and I am certain I will talk about this awesome book as we continue our book study.
Finally, I will be creating a master document that will catalog all of the books that were suggested during this book study. If they came from a blog, I will link the blog to this document. My plan is to keep this document on one of my sidebars so we can go back and reference it. This should be up by the weekend.
  Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.

If you are looking for lesson plans that are written out for you, you can find our writer’s workshop units by clicking the image below.  Just PRINT and TEACH!

Writers workshop for kindergarten and first grade


Writers workshop illustrative studies! In Pictures and in Words Chapters 1-6 with mentor texts ideas to teach writing to kindergarten and first-grade students.

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Deedee Wills

Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

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101 Responses

  1. You've really hit the nail on the head here. I have seen educators rush the illustration and push the focus on the words before the kiddos are ready. Also pushing writing before making the picture. I feel that the illustrations help shape the story.
    I love how you added your excitement about your "Dexter book" in your daily news. I would love to see a picture of that. I am totally copying the stretching out words portion.
    I am looking forward to doing more author/illustrator studies into my kindergarten curriculum. Can you comment on that and if you do them in your classroom?

    1. I squeeze in lots of author/illustration studies. I don't think I've done deep and purposeful illustrations studies. An example from my reflections was…

      The kids would recognize the mud on the foot but wouldn't notice the mud on the heel or pads of the foot. I would have never thought to take the study to that depth.

      Primary Graffiti

    2. On illustrative studies I have done-If you click on the link that says "November"(above the picture of my morning message), you will see the Dexter book and a bit of the illustrative study. I didn't want to copy the whole post, so I just added the link.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.
      Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

  2. Deedee,

    I hate to say this but I totally taught out of illustration. After I read those words it dawned on me why some students were such great writers (those with well thought out detailed illustrations) and others were careless about their stories (those with very little to no detail in their drawings). I just want to THANK YOU for starting this little PLC. I haven't finished reading chapter 6 but I'm already inspired and have learned so much.

    Ariela Gutierrez

    1. Katie does a wonderful job at opening our eyes to the depth in which our instruction can go and when to include instructional moments! I'm so happy I read this book!

      Primary Graffiti

    2. Hi Ariela, I was doing the same thing. I enjoyed talking with students about their illustrations, but felt inside I needed to hurry them along to the text or I wasn't teaching them enough about "writing".

  3. I am so grateful that you are doing this book study! It is making me do some deep thinking. I love dog books too, and that George one looks great! I haven't heard of Voices in the Park, but it seems a great way for different perspectives. Thanks so much for sharing your love of teaching and making me a better teacher!

    1. I agree also and it is so nice and adds so much depth to learning when we can chat about ideas together.

  4. I especially appreciated that Katie Wood Ray several times referenced the NAEYC position statement for appropriate practice in early childhood teaching. When I taught preschool, the NAEYC DAP was the plumb line you taught by. Now that I'm teaching K in a public school I seldom hear about it. This makes me sad since early childhood as a developmental stage is from birth-age 8! It seems like we cut it off at K.

    Anyway, on to my thoughts on the text. I highlighted several portions of the text.
    In chapter 1, pg. 17, "But to get to the really deep work, teachers must look at children's illustrating not as an afterthought or simply the means to another, more important end. To get at the really deep composition work, teachers must understand illustrating in this way- as composition." I am keeping this thought at the forefront as I begin implementing this method in writing workshop in the fall. I feel I really need to understand the why behind what I'm doing both to keep my focus right and also so I can explain to others (teachers, administration, parents)who are sure to question this practice. Unfortunately, our current writing program teaches out of illustrating.
    This leads me to a question I have for you Deedee. What has been your experience blending this approach with other established writing workshop approaches, for example, Lucy Calkins. Have you met with any resistance from administration?
    I have a lot more to say, but have probably said enough for now.
    I'm very excited about this book study and love that you are making a list of classroom booksavailable.

    1. Sandi! Thank you! To answer your question about my administration. I am very fortunate that my principal was a former Reading Recovery teacher, so she understands instruction (especially early childhood).
      Thank you Sandi,

      I am lucky that my principal is a former Reading Recovery Teacher, so she knows good instruction!

      Before I was was hired our district did not do balanced literacy and they were more a basal-type district. When I moved into the district, I talked to the administration about the need for a district-wide literacy approach centered around best practices. They then hired me to be the literacy coach for two years so we could implement balanced literacy.

      My struggles where not in convincing the administration, but rather the teachers that writer's workshop was considered "best practices". Now, 5 years later, our district has evolved and I am super proud of everyone.

      I think to bring about change, you have to be able to be articulate in what and why changes need to occur. It is really hard to bring about change, but you have to know your research. I think Katie Wood Ray is a great place to start!

    2. Deedee, thanks for your quick response. Our school does do writing workshop and I love most parts of it, but somehow it seems "packaged". I feel a little like I'm teaching in a box- set process, etc. I loved Katie Wood Ray's statement; "…it's equally impossible for a person to go from nothing to something the same way each time he writes. All the dynamics of words and meanings and genres and formats and audiences- all the things that impact what is being written- make duplicating a process time after time impossible, even for a single writer." This book is like a breath of fresh air. I'm a firm believer there is more than one way to do things.

    3. Sandi,
      I have to agree with you. My district is the same way. We teach "writer's workshop", but it's very cut and dried, step by step. As a matter of fact, it's been both my students' and my most dreaded part of the day for the last few years. I teach in a high poverty area where many kids come in with little literacy experience. I can COMPLETELY see how important studying illustrations will be for them to connect to the wider world of literacy. I also love, love, love the idea of letting them do books. I'm sad to say that we've made plenty of class books, but not individual books that they can work on from day to day. What a drastic difference this will make for my kinders (and me) next year!

  5. As I read the chapters in this book it is causing me to look at illustrations in a new light. I have hundreds of books that I read to my students for pleasure. Now I am thinking about how I can use them to focus my instruction on teaching illustrations and not rushing the students with the writing.

    1. I agree, Pam. I'm excited about going through my picture books with new "eyes" and thinking about how to use them in writing workshop.

    2. I'm with you guys too. You can look for cool illustrative techniques, but if you give them to your class, I guarantee, they will see things that you never did. We must have looked at Hop Toad a million times. This return-to-the-book is so wonderful for your whole class. Those who are ready to see something new, will. Some of your other kiddos might finally see what you talked about 2 weeks ago.

  6. We just started units of study last year in 1st grade. I think we were rushing the illustrations. When I look back at the writing from last year (samples, I can see that the more detailed illustrations also had the most writing with them. This looks like what I need to make our writing workshop more effective and fun!!!!! Thanks for hosting this.

  7. I taught 2nd grade last year. When asked to illustrate the kids would fuss. It wasn't enjoyable to them. I'm certain their reactions stem from minimum emphasis on book studies with illustration and allowing the kids time to attempt creating picture books. This book certainly opened my eyes. I'm eager to teach kindergarten and loop back to 2nd. We shall see if it's developmental or lack of depth. =D

    Primary Graffiti

  8. So, if I'm being perfectly honest this emphasis on illustration makes me nervous as a teacher because I am not super artistic and the idea of needing to model deliberate drawing and illustration makes me a little uncomfortable. But I also know at the same time that staying comfortable doesn't really push you to grow as a teacher, or as a person.

    Also, if I'm being completely honest, the idea of just giving my kids blank paper stapled together to make a book also makes me a little nervous. I teach first grade and it's difficult for me to not at least want to draw one nice little straight line for them at the bottom to show that I expect some text to go with their illustration, but I'm going to try it out the KWR way first and see how it goes.

    My real question is this: what art supplies are you putting out for kids for them to accomplish this work? Are you going beyond the crayons and pencils that would be on their tables? And if so, what are you putting out, and where do you get the supplies? I teach in a school where we (as a school) provide all supplies for the kids, so often we don't have supplies beyond crayons and last year I didn't even get new crayons. I had to reuse what was left by the teacher who had my room previously. I just feel like if the emphasis is on illustration there should be a variety of media available to students. Other thoughts?

    1. Rachel, I hear your reservations. I am not a natural artist by ANY stretch, but I have gotten better at drawing because I am more noticing of the lines of things. If you have reservations, imagine how your kiddos feel? So I make a point of tell my kids my thoughts as I draw, "Well, I'm not really sure how to draw a raccoon, but I'll just have to do my best. I'm not going to worry about it." This fearlessness is important to model.

      It is hard to give them blank pages. I may start this out during the first portion of they year, but you can see from my blog, I went to lined paper mid-year because I was having trouble letting go of the messiness of their handwriting. I know I need to strengthen my instruction around handwriting, so this will be my goal for next year.

      Supplies: We just use pencils and crayons. I have not given markers or colored pencils. I also have a "community crayon box" so they can borrow other colors to help them.

      Thank you for your thoughtful reflections!

  9. Rachel,

    I can relate to those reservations as a 1st grade teacher. Providing choice for how they create their picture books would be great. I like writing on lines myself…because I'm OCD and hate the line of words looking diagonal. We spend so much time working on constructing proper letters and forming proper sentences in 1st that I too would desire lines for their books. I do have a storage unit with a variety of bins that I picked up from target. Each bin provided the kids with different paper options. Many would choose the story paper with lines and space to illustrate. The kids were able to staple their books how they wanted. Three down the side. Two at the top. Or one in the corner. They loved creating!!!

    My illustration are terrible if not given something to model the drawing from an image or object. And when I illustrate in front of the class…well, that's no good. I rely on the cute clipart available.

    I had a table supply of color pencils, crayons, markers, and glue at each team. The kids went a little crazy with the markers and having them replaced was dreadful. I had to put down limitations towards the last quarter but it didn't go so well. I'm eager to read what others respond!

    Primary Graffiti

    1. Rachel and Cheryl,
      I chuckled when I read both your posts about your shortcomings as artists. You might look good next to me. My K class last year had a number of gifted artists in it. As I talked my way through my modeling mini-lessons, I received many tips and words of wisdom. (along with questions- "What did you say you're drawing?") Helping Mrs. MacDougall draw became a part of our normal classroom practice. It actually worked as a teachable moment- not for drawing but for "do the best you can and keep on going."
      I found it was a great encouragement to my kinders who struggle with fine motor skills. You don't have to be a great artist to tell a great story through illustration. I did purchase Ed Emberly's drawing books at the end of the year. I'm planning to have guided drawing sessions as a part of writing workshop next year.

    2. I'm interested in the book suggestion. I have a pinterest page set up for guided drawing. NOT kidding! I need the help too. Deedee is right about showing the kids fearlessness. They need to see it's okay not to be perfect. I've also called upon some of those talented kids to help illustrate my thinking. =D

  10. Amazing post – makes me want to run right out and get a copy of Voices! One wordless book that I like to teach with is called Mine! by Kevin Luthardt . . . at first I was disappointed because there weren't any words (except Mine!) but when I saw how easily my kindies "wrote" the book aloud just by looking at this muralist's pictures, I knew I had a keeper! I don't get to teach reading/writing since I'm a school counselor, but I'm definitely checking in on this book study!!

    The Corner On Character

    1. Barbara, I always love your book suggestions. I'm going to google the book as soon I finish commenting! I too would never have thought the impact of a wordless book. =D

      Primary Graffiti

    2. Me too. I am looking forward to expanding my library with suggestions found here. I am a bilingual teacher and teach literacy in spanish, so it is a little harder to find books. But if my focus in the study is illustrations, then wordless books, or simple text books, would be perfect!

  11. Thank you so much for your thoughtful sharing! You've inspired me to start planning now for next year. I was fortunate to hear and learn from Katie in person. It was the middle of the school year and I tried to jump right in without too much deep thought. My results reflected my mishmash of instruction. I found out that you really can't rush a good thing. So…you've got me on the road to enthusiastic planning even school just ended today! I've started my book list and can't wait for the rest of the study!

    1. I have a District Standards Coach with your name. I'd love to meet Katie in person. Lucky you.

    2. Katie Wood Ray makes it sound so simple, but it really takes some thought. I am glad we can all process this together!

    3. Patty – I also went to Katie's workshop in the middle of the year and rushed back to school to try and implement what was talked about at the conference. I became so overwhelmed and did not get the results I had hoped for. I too am excited to organize my thought and ideas this summer and start fresh in August!!


  12. I also start the year out with blank pages but we only work on a one page 'story'. The book idea is going to be a challenge. I guess, my idea of a 'book' is also going to have to be altered or adjusted. Slow and easy..

    1. Yep! That is the way to go! We can only start from where we are…right? I plan to continue to post about my writer's workshop this year, so perhaps that will help you along the way.

      Thank you for joining us!

  13. I can't wait to get the book! 🙂
    We always start off with blank pages and work our way up to lined paper. They also begin drawing pictures and labeling their pictures and work their way up to writing stories. I love building Stamina! 🙂
    Thank you Mrs. Wills for doing this study! 🙂
    Crayons and Curls

    1. I KNOW! Come on UPS man! I am so bummed that they ran out of books. Do you think we could be the reason? I am excited to see what you have to share!

      Thanks Cheryl!

  14. Lots to think about within this book, to be sure. I am actually looking forward to giving the lessons a try. I've pinned your morning message. What a great way to include both shared reading and writing. I'm not artistic by any means, but this is something else that I will try. @C.Saoud….guided drawing! I'm going to have to look that one up. Looking forward to reading even more!

    1. Thanks from me, too, Cheryl. 🙂 Going back to check out the 'Dexter' link.

  15. I had a hard time getting into the reading but I am glad I stuck with it. I know I will be rereading. I have to admit I was guilty of pushing past the illustrations and maybe rushing into the words:( I absolutely agree that for kinders so much of their writing is in the details of their illustrations. I won't be in such a hurry to get less pictures and more words. Thank you for launching the book study and a big thank you for cataloging the books in a master document.

    1. I was in the same boat prior to last year. I would teach "out of illustrations". I am glad this book has helped you as it did me.

      Thank you for joining us!

  16. This past year, we went from guided small group writing to whole group writing and by default spent more time working on illsutrations. We did a few foldables similar to the book idea but didn't give blank books early on in the year. I definitely want it to be more by design. One of our new program's writing assignments was to create a book cover in the style of Duck on a Bike. When I went to pull books to show them where to put the author's name and title – all the picture books for that week were laid out differently. So the students discussed how illustrators organize picture and words on covers which developed into a great discussion before they planned their own. Next year, we are switching focus again to be an IB PYP school and as I sat thinking about the literature we'd worked with and how it fit into the units we had to design, I knew I wanted to plan one about being like authors and illustrators – I don't know quite how but this books study has cemented that goal. A retired teacher I used to work with had a HUGE collection of picture books she'd personally collected (boy do I miss her and her books). She'd tell you she'd select books first for the illustrations. What a good rationale for not rushing students out of illustrations into words. If the mood of the illustrations leads us to bond with a certain illustrator why not treat students' writing in the same way. The stumbling block I see isn't my really sorry drawings as models but the kids with fine motor issues. I had one student whose handwriting after lots of work became legible but her drawings later in the year still looked like random scribbles and it was hard for her to go back and retell what was in the picture. As I retell this, it hits me that she was one of very few students who would go back to the literature related to the topic and look through the illustrations as she worked. A book – Storm Is Coming – the expressions on the animals faces and the sizing on the pages.

    1. I know those fine motor skills do not mature at the same time… it is a challenge. I found myself going back and reteaching how to draw a person (so they don't look like a tick ready to pop) in January and February to a few kiddos. They just were not ready when I taught this in August and September.

      Thank you for joining us!

  17. I read through this Katie Wood Ray book last year, and it is great to be rereading it this summer and reading all the discussions going on. I teach K4 and we just started a writer's workshop approach to our writing program last year. It was a learning experience for all of us, teachers and students in our district, but we were able to go through our curricular calendar and change some things up for next year. We are going to focus more on drawing in the fall and the story telling aspect of writing. And I know last fall I used wordless picture books many of which have been mentioned to help spring board our workshop mini lessons. Thanks Deedee for bringing this book to the forefront for discussion, I am looking forward to it.

    And as for drawing not well in front of the kiddos, all I can say is read ISH early on and your kids will be able to sympathize with your lack of skills 🙂 as every thing you draw can be described Ishfully!

    1. Thank You! I just added ISH to my cart on Amazon and pinned the book with the label illustration study! =D

    2. Sue, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement about focusing on the storytelling aspect of writing. I'm studying another book this summer- "Talking, Drawing, Writing" by Martha Horn & Mary Ellen Giacobbe. These authors discuss the importance of oral storytelling in writing. I don't want to get off on a tangent, but it makes so much sense. As teachers, our goal for our young writers is to help our students communicate the thoughts they have. History has shown the progression that society has followed is- oral language, pictures, and then the written word. I can so easily get focused on my student's end product- the writing piece. (the product rather than the process) UGH! I know better than that!

    3. Yes Sandi! I love "Talking, Drawing, Writing" too! Kathleen (Growing Kinders) mentioned it in her post as well… It is a wonderful resource.

      Sue, Thank you for mentioning "ish". I love this book! I also like "The Dot" (same author) for praising the idea of just getting started and see where it takes you.

      I better get started on this master list!

    4. Sandi,
      I loved Talking, Drawing and Writing too. I have tried to adapt many of the principles from that book too. I find, as I am sure you all do, the need to glean different aspect of so many early childhood experts out there on the ideas of writing, because it really is a different ball game with 4's and young 5's. Pictures and storytelling are the big thing, that lead to the excitement of writing as the kids get a better sense of writing and being authors and all the conventions that go with being a writer. A good portion of my job is to encourage their natural enthusiasm and curiosity to take things they know and show them how to share their knowledge, ideas with others through the art of storytelling/writing.

    5. You are so right- it's so important to focus on the writer and not the writing. (as we all know but it's so easy to slip into looking at the end product only)

    6. I am reading Talking, Drawing, and Writing too this summer! It makes great sense. I have been teaching kindergarten for five years and never felt confident in my ability in teaching them to write. It now makes so much sense to start the year with storytelling. In the past when I would tell my kids to write about something that had happened in their lives I never got the in depth details that I always wanted in their writing. I am so excited to start the year off with teaching my kids the art of storytelling and see if it leads to great writing!!

    7. Isn't it amazing the energy that's generated from talking to others? I'm just loving this book study- it's great!

  18. Thank you so much for getting this study going! I am a pre-k teacher (students who are age appropriate for k, but whose parents choose to give them an extra year of growth due to late spring/summer birthdays) at a christian preschool and have no one else who teaches this age group so I have no "team". I consider the blogs I follow my "team".

    Anyways. . . I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I am so excited to try some of these ideas in my class next year. I only have my students for 2 and a half hours so we will do some of this on a much smaller scale! I love the idea of an illustration study and using what the kiddos notice to guide where the lesson goes. I also am NOT a good drawer, however, I love it when the students teach me. I always ask them if I can use their ideas to make my work better and they love that (such as little marks to note that a bird is singing).

    I am very grateful to be learning from all of you!

    1. Aren't blogs great. They are such a rich resource and support. One of my team members introduced blogs and Pinterest to me. My team (we call ourselves Special K) is so important to me as a teacher and to my teaching. Happy to be learning with you.

    2. Sara! I love being part of your team! I literally got goosebumps when I read that this morning. Such an honor!

      I am thrilled that you like this book. I sort of feel like Katie Wood Ray has just opened the gates of a garden and told me that it is okay to just go and explore. No pacing guide… This exploration is fun stuff!

  19. Oh yeah and I am very excited to have all the recommended books in one master document listed at the side! Thank you again!

  20. OH MY WORD. I just finished reading the chapters and I am completely blown away. My whole perspective on writing has been shattered haha. I am looking forward to compiling my thoughts and linking up tomorrow but I just had to get on and thank you for hosting this study and leading me to this book 🙂


    1. Yay! Danielle!!! I am so glad you are pumped up! I can't wait to see your ideas!

    1. Awesome Karen! It may take a bit to catch up, but jump in when you can. This book has literally changed my writing instruction! Love it!

  21. I ordered my book too— it's not here yet either.
    I am excited about the book list because I can always use new book ideas.
    Are you using the Columbia Teacher's College Writer's Workshop?
    We are supposed to be lock-step, but that just hackles my creative sensibilities and it doesn't always adapt to student needs.


    1. Boy do I understand what you're saying, Kristina. I'm determined to successfully blend these writing elements into the framework our administration has put in place.

    2. I don't use Lucy Calkin's curriculum, but I know that Katie Wood Ray studied with her. So I think they will weave together well.

      Sandi will tell us how to do it…LOL!

    3. Thank you Sandi and Deedee.
      If Katie studied with her than that is good enough for me. And I can use that in my defense. 🙂


      P.S. Could there be some kind of live chat that we could do? Could Katie maybe chime in as well?

    1. Oh.. Thank you! I just checked out your post! If you email me, I will help you link your post to my post. 🙂

  22. Thanks Deedee! Great book suggestions! We do use Units of Study by Lucy Caukins and her team. I think they will blend well together. I sent my team your blog post! I think it has so much to offer. Thanks for doing this!

  23. Still waiting on my book to get to me from Amazon. Thanks for your thoughts on the first six chapters. Can't wait to start reading!

  24. I am waiting on the arrival of my book. I was looking forward to reading it. Now, I cannot wait to get started. Thanks for creating this meaningful discussion!

  25. Deedee you did a great job summing up the first 6 chapters. I'm looking forward to teaching into the illustrations this fall.

  26. This was so exciting to me that I put aside my light summer reading and read the first 6 chapters in literally 2 days. Holy moly- am I thinking about how to add some fun and spice into my writer's workshop! Another book with great illustrations that is nearly wordless is Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. The kids LOVE picking out little details. Can't wait to "study" that fab book instead of just reading it for fun!

    1. ohhh…. great book suggestions! It is funny how we can take our old favorites and read them in a different way! Perfect!

  27. I was so very fortunate this year to be able to attend Katie Wood Ray's workshop over this book. In my school district we are in the very beginning stages of learning and implementing writer's workshop. Katie's workshop was awesome to say the least! She would discuss different aspects within the book and then show video clips from the classroom in which she helps. She showed us so many great children's books and discussed in depth the illustrations and techniques illustrators use in order to convey meaning. In the past I have spent so much time on teaching kids how to put down their ideas in writing rather than having them first convey their stories in meaningful pictures. I am beyond excited to start a fresh new year with these great ideas!!! Thanks so much for doing this book study!

    1. You! Are! Welcome! I am happy to hear you are excited! I saw Katie once too and I was HOOKED!

      Thank you for joining us!

  28. I blogged about the chapters and added my link. This is so eye opening for me. In fact, i've been up reading and writing for 3 1/2 hours now and it's 3 in the morning. I must go to sleep, but sometimes reading, writing, and learning come first. Especially when you have a 5 and 6 year old.

    ✰ Kimberley ✰
    First in Maine

  29. First I must say the I LOVE your blog. 🙂 This is my second year teaching kindergarten and I'm really eager to do this style of teaching writing with my kinders. It's very different from what I'm used to doing. We have journal writing with prompts for students to write about and then draw a picture to go along with what they wrote. I've never thought of having the students illustrate and then write about their OWN work, not something that I've chosen for them to write about. I really liked the book and how Katie has explained that illustrating will lead to writing. I think it's great for kindergarten and I'm really excited to try this in my classroom. Thank you for the book ideas as well.

  30. Wow! I just finished the first six chapters and put my post up. Super excited about this view of writer's workshop. Another good series of wordless books with amazing illustrations are the Carl books by Alexandra Day. The kids LOVE them!
    Thanks for this book study! It has helped me so much!

  31. I am so excited to be reading this book along with so many fabulous teachers. Writing has always been a difficult subject for me. I don't see myself as a writer and my drawing can be horrible. To the point that sometimes I just don't do it in front of the class. I know now that I need to work on it, get the experience, and show my students that it's okay to do your best and not be perfect.
    However, Katie has really sparked my interest. I have read several books about teaching writing and the writing process, but none of them got me excited to work with students. I teach Kindergarten and I've always started them out with drawing pictures and talking about details. I never thought to include illustrations from books before!
    I do have to say that I have always, even to the end of the year, really pushed for them to work on their illustrations and have them match their words but I never thought about talking to them about how pictures make their meaning clearer.
    I guess I had the right idea in my head but that Katie's book is helping me fine tune and expand what I was already doing. I am so looking forward to finishing the book and going back in August and writing with these kids.

  32. Thanks to everyone for sharing and learning together. This is my 3rd year in Kindergarten and I can't believe how it has changed. I was lucky enough to have an outstanding student artist (5 yr. old) in my room this year. She taught me/and the rest of the class so much in writing and math journal illustrations. I was amazed at the amount of detail she included and it raised the bar for all of us. We don't have Writer's Workshop in our district, but I can't wait to use many of the ideas that Katie wrote about and others have shared. In using technology we use Launcher 2 a software program that has minimal space for words, but a lot of room for illustrations. It's amazing to see Kindergarten students draw in this program. We can't print in color, but students color their illustrations with crayons after the page is printed. It also builds those fine motor skills using the mouse.
    A wordless book to show illustrations is, Zoom by Istvan Banyai. In this book the pictures zoom in then out and it is great conversation to decide what the book is about(connections/imagination). You can even take this book apart and try to put the pages in order. It really has multiple ways to put it together. I think this type of learning with illustrations would also open many avenues for students and us as well!

  33. I am so excited about this book study! I am going into my second year teaching full-day prekindergarten. I'm in Oklahoma, and my district has created their own set of common core standards for pre-k that will be implemented (along with the kindergarten CC standards) this Fall. That being said, I knew I wanted to research writer's workshops this summer, and when I found this book study, I was jumping for joy (but I had to be careful not to injure myself – afterall, I've been sitting on the couch or by the pool all summer!) Anyway, why am I so excited? Besides that this book is awesome, and it's giving me motivation to have a specified writing time in my class . . . . last year we were giving journals for our students about halfway through the year and told to use them. Then, another teacher told me that she was observed by administration during her journal time, and the administrator actually said to one of the students, "Why are you coloring? You are supposed to be WRITING in your journal." Ummmmm . . .!!! Where do I even start? I was broken hearted for that student and for all the students because this was just lack of understanding what is developmentally appropriate. I spoke with other teachers, and they all told me they made their students write before they are allowed to draw anything!!! I am in a pre-k center for crying out loud – we need this book! So, I pretended not to hear any of them (ha ha) for the most part. I can't wait to read the rest of this book as well as Already Ready and About the Authors! Thanks so much for the wonderful book study and your blog – it inspires me to be a better teacher.

  34. Thank you for hosting this …I just linked up! =) I didn't plan on participating. I was just going to read the book and read everyone's reflections and posts. But…this book is just too good! Once reading I knew I had to be part of it. Thanks again!

    The Daily Cupcake…A Kindergarten Blog

  35. Thank you for the book study! I was looking for something to be working on for the summer and came across the book study. I couldn't wait to get my book in the mail today! I skimmed through it so far and can't wait to dig in. I also love the Talking, Drawing, Writing book mentioned in some of the posts. I worked with this book during a class two summers ago and dug it out again. If you don't have it yet, it is another great book about teaching writing. I can't wait to hear other ideas about teaching writing!

  36. Deedee, thank you for this book study! I am enjoying thinking about what others are sharing. I liked what Katie wrote in chapter 2 about building stamina and helping students learn the curriculum of time. I rely on directed drawings to develop their fine motor and expand their attention spans as the majority of my students come with no preschool experience. I need to be more deliberate and verbalize building stamina with kids to help them own their management of time. I also need to think about verbalizing chapter 5's recognize illustrations as works of compositions just like words. All of this is giving me good things to think about in my practice.

  37. Oh my goodness, there has been so much great information shared on this book that I have also been inspired to get a copy and read it. I am super excited about the idea of teaching children writing and attention to detail through illustrations. Another book with great illustrations are the Pinkalicious books by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann. (They popped right into my head as I read through all the comments and suggestions)

  38. Pingback: Teacher Professional Development books for kindergarten
  39. Howdy,
    I am a pre-service teacher in Charleston. I have been assigned a mini-lesson on how to use illustration to craft backstory. I have seen this book and really appreciate the glimpse at technique 10. Just not sure how to make a lesson out of this. Any and all suggestions would be super helpful.

    1. Absolutely David,

      So the idea behind the “backstory” is there are two stories being told. One is told with pictures and the other is being told with words. In the primary grades you might try approaching it this way. Let’s say I am going to write about the beach. My text might say: Waves crash on the sand. Seagulls fly in the sky. Shells wash up on the beach. BUT my illustrations might show my son and I playing in the sand, feeding the seagulls, collecting shells.

      You might discuss with the students about how when authors of nonfiction sometimes create a backstory. It is a way to draw students into the text. Ray writes, “The story unfolding alongside the information enhances the reader’s experience with the information.

      I hope that helps. Certainly, let me know if you need more information.

      You might want to look at the books SNOW and SCARECROW. They are both written by Cynthia Rylant.

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