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!