Monthly Archives: February 2016
Engaging Young Writers Chapter 4
Welcome back for the chapter 4 study of Engaging Young Writers!
In this chapter, we start to dig into the differences between Preschool and Kindergarten writing. Preschool writing is much more open ended. The children are invited to engage with writing when and if they feel like doing so. In chapter 4, I liked how Matt Glover engaged with the student in a conversational level to begin with. He did not pressure the student to write when the student seemed very hesitant to put his knowledge of cheetahs on to paper. Over a series of very carefully structured and guided questions, Matt was able to encourage the student to share his knowledge of cheetahs with others. He was happy to share that the student continued to write even after Matt was not in the classroom.
As a seasoned Kindergarten teacher, there are many times when I have writers who do not want to engage in writing. Several this year are reluctant because English is not their native language and they feel as they cannot produce what their English speaking peers are able to do. A few more of my students had not had experience with letters or sounds or even pencils and paper before coming to Kindergarten this year. I have a few writers who were ready to take off on their writing when they came to school this year. Having a wide range of writers makes it a BIG task to figure out how to encourage and engage all my writers to share what they know!
I try very hard to invite my students to share what they know, however big or little knowledge they have about a topic, I want them to share that, because that’s a great starting point! I also try to tie in our studies in Science or Social Studies. Those are great times for my students to share what they know or what they have learned during that time. They can incorporate that into their writing. Usually during our Writer’s Workshop time, I do not have my students write about one specific prompt. During our study of community helpers last month, my students were free to choose to write about what they wanted to, opening us up to a wide variety of topics! The children were able to explore their chosen career through a variety of materials and combine that information with what they learned in class (and their prior knowledge) to write text. They were successful because they were the ones who were able to choose and they were driving their text forward. I provided grammatical and sequential help when conferencing with them, but they took their text in the direction in which they wanted.
Students who finished before others were invited to choose and explore another career or they took their finished text and created a “How-to” text to share with us one part of their community helpers job and the steps necessary to complete it.
As different community helpers came to visit our classroom in the last month, children were also able to take notes during their presentations and learn about another career they may now want to explore.
There were many entry points even for my most reluctant of writers and in the end, each one of my students ended up producing text on their current level. We had several booklets full of illustrations, but it was very clear in those texts that those children had a sequence and you could see their “story” being told. I also had students who produced booklets with sub-headings so they could discuss the different parts of their helpers jobs (tools, transportation, uniform, schooling, etc.).
Join us next week for Chapter 5!
Engaging Young Writers Chapter 3
Welcome back for Chapter 3 of our Engaging Young Writer’s book study! I am learning lots of new ideas and “entry points” to help even my most reluctant writers catch and keep the writing bug.
Here are the questions for this week:
My school is an IB World School, so we are often looking at our studies from a global perspective (that can include our school; outside our 4 walls, our community, city, state, country, and world). One of my favorite studies this time of year is learning about where our food comes from. Each one of my students pick their favorite food providing animal, “research it” (through different resources; in print, online, talking with experts, etc.) and then write a booklet about it to share their learning with others. This activity is always a great entry point for my reluctant writers; they love to pick their favorite farm animal to learn more about it.
To add a twist to this writing activity this year, we are also going to participate in a barnyard related performance for our families. Each classroom is going to pick a farm animal, learn all about it through research, and share that learning with their families during this performance. They will also create small paintings of our chosen animal and we will “auction” them off for $5-$10 each to their families. The money we collect will go towards purchasing the animal we studied about for a family through Heifer International. My students will have several entry points during this activity to share their knowledge! In addition, we will also visit a dairy farm and our state fair grounds to learn more about these farm animals and see them in real life!
Although we will choose an animal to write about as a class, my students will have the opportunity each and every day to become an expert on one (or more) of these animals. They can choose to create and start a new booklet whenever they choose to move on to the next animal, or they can create more complex, in-depth texts about one animal.
This will look very different for each of my writers because we have a wide range of skill levels! Some children will write a book using only illustrations, some will include illustrations and beginning or ending sounds. Some will make lists and my higher students will have 1-3 sentences per page in their booklets.
We will include our books in our Informational Text/Research Writing unit and work on them for 4-6 weeks as we continue to gather more information through our whole group, small group, and field trip studies.
Engaging Young Writers Chapters 1 & 2
Welcome to the Engaging Young Writers book study! We are happy to have you here. Leave us a comment with your reflections. 🙂 We welcome reflections at anytime, even if we are on to the next chapters. 🙂
Tuesday #TeacherFriends Chat
Hi #teacherfriends!! I am SO excited about our guest this week on our #teacherfriends chat! The current #NSTA president Carolyn Hayes is our guest this week! I LOVE talking with Carolyn! She is a wealth of Science knowledge and is going to share lots of her love of science with us on Tuesday!
During the chat, you can register to win a 1 year membership to ESGI and use their amazing data collection/creation software in your classroom. Every Kindergarten teacher that I know that uses it LOVES it!! It makes creating assessments quick and easy and keeping records even easier!
Here are this week’s questions to get you started:
Also, later on in March, I am going to be a guest on the #teacherfriends chat (3/22/16), so mark your calendars now! I’ll be sharing more about my use of Science Notebooks in my classroom and I’ll have lots of ideas you can use right away!
I’ll be giving away a Gift Certificate to my Tpt store as well as an “I ❤ Science” tumbler that I made just for the winning #teacherfriend that night!
Who’s Who Post
I am excited to be a guest blogger over at Who’s Who and Who’s New today! I’m sharing about my addiction for binder clips! Head on over and check it out! 🙂
Engaging Young Writers Book Study
I went in search of a book to help make my conferring conferences better with my Kindergarten students. During one of our past #teacherfriends chat, DeeDee Wills suggested the book Engaging Young Writers to me as a way to make my conferences more meaningful.
I read it and liked it so much I shared it during a #teacherfriends chat. So many people were interested in the book topic that some friends and I decided to do a book study about it!
Starting Monday, February 15th, we will be posting questions for discussion from the book here. Each Monday, we will post new questions and you can respond here (or on any of our blogs) with your reflections.
Its an easy read (and easy on the wallet too–just under $12!), so if you would like to read with us, order your copy now. 🙂
We are super excited! Be sure to order your copy and read with us! 😉
We are deep into our study of Community Helpers that ties into our IB unit “How We Organize Ourselves”. We invite many members of the community into our classroom to show us how they do their jobs. Last week, we had Domino’s Pizza Makers visit our classrooms. We had a GREAT time!
All we had to do was call our local Domino’s and they came right out and did this great demo for us! They also brought us pizza for lunch and gave us cups full of goodies to take home. 🙂
Don’t forget to join us tonight for our weekly #Teacherfriends chat!
Here are this week’s questions to get your started. 🙂
Come chat with us about Positivity, Play, & Passion! @dawnbraa will be our guest tonight.
We always have a GREAT chat, get LOTS of new ideas (on average, I have at least 10-15 new ideas to check out after each chat), and make great NEW #Teacherfriends!!
See you there!
We celebrated the 100th a week ago and had a great time!!
You can get the sticker collection sheet for free in my TPT store. 🙂