Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Teacher Feature - Jenna Trosvik

First, can you tell us a little about yourself and your involvement with the RRVWP?

I currently teach 4th grade at Robert Asp Elementary in Moorhead. I recently spoke at the National Writing Project in honor of the Red River Valley Writing Project and a grant I was able to be a part of at my last school. It was great to be able to speak at a National Conference, and it gave me such great access to the NWP and NCTE. I became involved in the RRVWP in the summer of 2013. All the experiences and education that the RRVWP has given me have made me a stronger teacher overall. It's one of the best organizations to be a part of.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading a variety of books. I am in a children's literature graduate class, and I am doing a 40-book challenge. I just finished The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate---amazing. I am also reading The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander to my class, and they are loving it. For my graduate class I am also reading Storytime: Young Children's Literacy Understanding in the Classroom by Lawrence Sipe and Picture This: How Pictures Work by McClure, Garthwait, and Kristo. I am looking forward to my 40-book
challenge over the next 3 months. I plan on getting through a variety of student texts that I have always wanted to read, so that I can be more motivating in book choices for my students.

What is your favorite writing assignment you give your students?

There are too many to choose from! One that I love to do during the holidays that allows my students to be creative is descriptive writing. I love this at the end of the year because I remind my students about all of the descriptive parts we can add to stories to help the reader follow it and understand it better before we begin. It also shows me their understanding of some of these concepts such as prepositions, adjectives, sequence, etc. 

I begin by telling them they are going to draw a flower (or it could be a snowman in winter, turkey at Thanksgiving, a school bus at the beginning of the year, an Easter egg, etc.). Once they have drawn their flower, I tell them that it is time to do some descriptive writing. They have to write the directions as to how to draw their pictures, so that one of their peers can recreate it. Once they have finished their writing, they trade their writing only with a partner and begin to draw their partner's flower. At the end, I have students compare and contrast their pictures, and we discuss where the writing may have missed details or where the reader may have skipped some details or misread the writing. Then we talk about ways we could add to those sections so that others are able to recreate the drawing with the least amount of errors. They always love this because they get to draw and color for an activity in school. Plus, it allows them to have an authentic audience and creates some self motivation.

Do you have any recommended online resources for writing?

This past fall we did the Global Read Aloud with thousands of students around the world. We needed a safe place where we could see others' interactions with our writing about a story we were all reading. This year the website writeabout.com gave a free subscription to any classroom involved in the Global Read Aloud, so we gave it a try. This was a great place to write about the book that we were all reading. My students could write to other teachers' prompts or my own on the book. Teachers could share prompts about the book or search through the site. My students loved how other students came to our classroom page and wrote to our prompts. They also enjoyed reading other students' thoughts about the book we were reading. This was a great way to bring them a new audience, create cultural awareness, create motivation for reading and writing, and expose them to new technology.

If you could have coffee with any writer, who would it be and why?

I would love to sit down and have coffee with Kate Dicamillo. I was able to see her at the NCTE conference this year, and fell in love with her whole personality. She has written such strong books that I love and bring to my students every year because I believe so strongly in her messages. She is probably one of the smallest people I have met, but her personality and confidence make her seem like she is ten feet tall. She is also so humble and aware of other authors in her world. She recommends so many other authors and their books, which makes her a rare entity in public society. She is informed and educated, and I think she would motivate and teach me a lot about the written word.

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