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January 21, 2013 Young People, Big Dreams By Julie Ballew
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    Second graders have been working hard on responding to their reading in a variety of ways.  I have written several posts about how they are using their reader’s notebooks to write about what they read. This week, Mrs. Martinek’s 2nd grade class responded a bit differently to their read-aloud. Their responses were honest and clear, and I couldn’t wait to share them with you!

    Martin Luther King Jr.

    After reading A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. by David Adler to her class, Mrs. Martinek led a discussion about Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for the world. Teacher reading MLK book to class They were able to sum up his dream in one word: equality.  He wanted people to be treated equally. She then pushed her students to think about their own dreams. “What do you dream for the world?” she asked them.

    Students were given an opportunity to turn and talk to a partner about their dreams. Many of them mentioned topics like recycling and being nice, and a few of them were stuck on the idea of equality.

    Mrs. Martinek encouraged those students that were stuck to think smaller. “What do you dream about for your world, either at home or at school?”

    Pair of students talking  

    Modeled Writing

    Mrs. Martinek expected that her students would write down their dreams for the world after they had had a chance to discuss them with a partner. To scaffold them in this activity, she modeled this writing for them. She read her own writing aloud to them and highlighted the words “I can help by.” She wanted her students to go beyond just naming the dream — she wanted to call them to action. Highlighting the stem “I can help by” reminded them to include those words in their own writing.

    Teacher's response to text

    Independent Writing

    After they had had a chance to discuss their ideas and to see the kind of response that was expected of them, Mrs. Martinek sent her students off to write about their dreams independently. Every student in the room was able to get started right away since she had provided them with multiple scaffolds. Mrs. Martinek conferred with individual students, coaching them as they wrote. The dreams they shared were quite varied, which I attributed to the fact that they had been able to discuss their ideas orally first. They didn’t feel the need to copy the teacher or each other because they had already rehearsed what they would write.

    Student writing   Student writing


    Click on any image to see the response.


    Student response   Student response

    Student response   Student response

    Today, we remember a great man with a big dream. As it turns out, young people have pretty big dreams, too. I am so excited to watch these young people grow into adults who will make their dreams a reality.

    How are you remembering Martin Luther King Jr. this year?


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