The Ottumwa Courier


February 10, 2014

Ottumwa's young authors


Teachers Heidi Owens and Shanee Aljets said after so many years in the classroom, they tend to know what kids mean. In other cases, they'll ask the children to tell them the story in the book they've authored.

"Sometimes I'll take a few notes so I [remember] what it's about," said Aljets.

Owens had asked what children might do if they, like the students in Atlanta, suddenly found themselves having to spend the night at school? First, the class talked about such a situation. One child addressed the lack of food.

She drew a picture showing she would go to "hive stashin."

She'd been there before, apparently, and if stuck at school, she'd get the cold, bottled water as well as popcorn.

"That," explained her teacher, "is the Hy-Vee Gas Station."

By the time all the books had been read, the kindergarteners thought the sleepover could be great fun.

"They kept asking when we were going to do that," said the teacher.

Yet Owens wanted her students pattern to include both what they would like, and what they would not like. The girl who'd seen the treats at the gas station wrote, "I would not like to miss my mom and dad."

Aljets said the difference in progress is "amazing" to see.

"When I started teaching kindergarten 17 years ago," she said, "my [mentoring teacher] told me it would be fine if the kids went [into first grade] knowing how to write their name, the alphabet, start sounds (like the 'a' in 'apple'). As a teacher ... and a mother, it's amazing, they can read and write [words and sentences]."

Teachers say the kindergarten children are proud of what they've written, and now they are more confident when it comes to additional writing. One teacher said as she starts to move on to another task, she had to pull the kids away from writing their stories. They share them with classmates and family.

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