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Weekend news to them

September 28, 2004

Jeff Benson

Students in one Andersen Elementary School classroom might still be

learning to read, but the kids are proving it's never too early to

dabble in journalism.

Brenda Colgate's first-graders picked up their pencils and crayons

Monday and recorded the highlights of their weekend in "The Weekend

News." They reported several sentences each about everything from

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soccer practice to birthday parties.

"This assignment really helps them, but sometimes I find out a lot

of things that I wouldn't even want to know," Colgate said. "Family

problems. Funny things. They can be so innocent sometimes."

Colgate compiles each child's weekly news entries -- which consist

of two or three sentences and crayon drawings on 16-by-20-inch sheets

-- in a book, so the parents can see them at the end of the school

year, she said. She also lets the students guess at the spellings, so

they can use their phonetic and deductive skills.

"I had a sleepover with my friend Annie at her house," Gabi Orr,

6, read to the class while showing off her smiling stick figures. "We

went to the pool last weekend."

Others hadn't quite mastered their journalistic style yet but

impressed their teacher by nailing some of the more difficult

spellings.

"This weekend I went to soccer pictures," wrote Joe Alvarado, 6.

Colgate, who was named Andersen's teacher of the year last year,

has her hands full with a combo class of kindergartners and

first-graders. Moments earlier, she'd taught kindergartners words

beginning with "N" and "S" and watched them march and dance to songs

featuring those letters in "The Silly Willy Workout."

"I really like teaching different modalities," she said. "It's not

just reading and writing -- it's moving as well. Every child's

different, but most of them like to move."

Both classes also spelled out different words and changed vowel

sounds on cue by adding and taking away letters that were represented

by color-coded cards. "Sat" became "sit," which turned into "it,"

then "fit."

Colgate knew the wheels were turning in her students' heads.

"You're ready to read!" she said.

* IN THE CLASSROOM is a weekly feature in which the Daily Pilot

visits a campus in the Newport-Mesa area and writes about the

experience.

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