Improving Writing

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by KinderKatie, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Apr 4, 2007

    Hi all,

    I just started to teach K this January. I didn't really know what kind of writing to expect from K students. Most of my kids just string letters together. Sometimes tons of letters in one "word". Meaning, no spaces, just letters. Many kids do not sound much stuff out either. There is not one student who I can attempt to read what they have written.

    I thought this was okay but I saw some writing in another K room, and it was fantastic! You could basically make sense of what they had written.

    I want this for my kids, but how? I model writing and sounding out every day in the morning message but what else can I do?

    TIA! :0
     
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  3. Anpadh

    Anpadh Rookie

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    Have them do what you did -- look at the way the other kids write. In my daughter's elementary school, they used to have the 3rd graders tutor the K/1's.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Do you have a writing curriculum? Check out Lucy Calkins' Units of Study.
     
  5. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    No we do not have a writing curriculum. Thanks for the tip on Calkin, I will google her.

    Anp- that is a good idea about showing them other kids writing. Thanks!
     
  6. KinderKatie

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    What else can I do?

    In the morning I have them copy simple sentences, including a sentence about who the star student is that day. Is this appropriate? Most seem to like it but is it good to straight copy things?

    How else can I teach writing?

    What should my writing center include? Many students just scribble a bunch of letters and declare they are done! Maybe I am doing something wrong...
     
  7. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Are you doing journals? THAT IS A KEY! I journal 3 times a week or more...the only way they can get better is with practice, practice, practice. Don't throw too much at them at once. Model something you want to work on for the day......say capitals at the beginning and end marks. Do an activity dealing with that. Show them on an overhead what you are looking for......choose a topic and model the capitals and end marks....also emphasizing spacing, etc. They need to DO the writing......often.
    We use the six trait method at my school and I've seen an improvement in writing since it was implemented a couple of years ago.
     
  8. Deeena

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    When my kids journal, I try to meet with each kid to write the sentence below the one they did. I always praise them for something, for example, "I like how you put finger spaces between your words." As I am writing their sentence, I may work with them on stretching out the sounds they hear in a word, capitalization, finger spaces, punctuation, etc. I also have an author's chair. Depending on time, I have 2 - 3 students share what they wrote in their journal. They love sharing! I usually pull a skill from each kids' journal that they did really well. For instance, "I like how Bobby used a capital letter to start his sentence." Or, I may comment on how a particular student wrote three sentences. Before we journal, I write in my journal on the overhead. I already have the picture up, so the kids help me write a story about the picture. As I am writing, I model certain skills I want to reinforce. At the end of the day, we write, "The Kindergarten News." I pick a few kids to share something that we did that day and I model the writing on the chart paper. If there's time, I have volunteers circle sight words.
     
  9. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Yup, journal is the key. What I did in the beginning of the school year is during center time, I grouped my kids according to how many letters they knew and the sounds they knew. I had my high group, two medium groups, and my very low group. With the three lower groups, we would meet for 10 minute rotation and as a group, we would come up with one sentence to write. We would write the sentence together, using the sight words we have learned so far. We did spaces together, sounded unfamiliar words out together, and I modeled how to use the classroom as a resource (where to look for words such as color words). We did this for about 8 weeks. With my high group, I did this for about 2 weeks, and then let them on their own after that. By January, they were all writing independently.

    We write a message every morning. They come up with a story and a good beginning. In the beginning of the school year, I write the words and they tell me what to do (when to space, when to capitalize, etc). Starting in January, they come up and write each word in the story. They pass the marker to a quiet student to write the next word. They have to help each other sound out the word, space, when to capitalize, when to use quotation marks, etc.


    Model and give them many oppurtunities to write.
     
  10. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Kinderkatie.....let us know if and how you are using journals in your classroom.......
    Deeena and Peachy had great advice....:)
     
  11. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    No I do not really have journals. They just have notebooks that they copy sentences in as morning work. When I took over, I just continued what the previous teacher was doing. But I will definitely use the journals better now. Thank you for all of the tips!
     
  12. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Kinder......lots of great teachers here who can help you with journaling if you get stuck, etc. I think if you make a conscious effort to journal nearly EVERYDAY between now and the end of the year you will see tremendous growth....
    good luck! I LOVE teaching writing to my kinders......it is one of my favorite things to teach! :)
     
  13. KinderKatie

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    Yes I will definitely try to fit it in every day. There is hardly any math left in our curriculum guide so I will have more time now. Where should I start with the journaling? Is there a good site that gives like a "how to" or ideas on what to journal on?
     
  14. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    If you do a search on here (AtoZ).....you'll find lots of threads that discuss this......I'd start there if I were you....I know there is a lot.
     
  15. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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  16. Deeena

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    Apr 4, 2007

    Peachy,

    I love that idea you have about passing the pen around to have the students write the story themselves. Could you give more details about how this is done? I do shared writing with my students on occation for other things but when I share the pen, I have a really difficult time getting the other kids to stay quiet on the rug while one is up in front writing. Even telling them that I'll pick a quiet student to come up and write never has seemed to help too much. I also have them all try to help the student stretch out the sounds in the word, but it still seem to be an opportuniy for them to chat while someone is in front writing. Anyway, as I said, I love to hear exactly what this looks like in your class. Thanks!
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    This is my second year doing this and it's been very successful. In the beginning, it's very structured. I write up there till January. BUT, what I do from August to January is after I am done writing the story, I will call on quiet kids to circle a particular letter, a particular sound, a sight word, period, exclamation mark, etc. So, this gives them a chance to come up with the marker and learn how to wait their turn, how to sit quietly when they need to, how to pass the marker carefully to the next student, and so on. This is also a great time to reinforce letter names, sounds, and sight words!

    Then, starting in January, when I start having the kids write, what I do to help with the talking is I constantly move my students around on the carpet. They know that when I move them, it's because I want them to be learning. I will say, "thank you John, for sounding that word out for Ana." I will praise the students who are helping. This always gets the other kids to stop talking to their neighbor and to start helping. I don't really have kids talk to their neighbors, they talk only to help sound out words or to help spell a sight word. They also yell out, "SPACE", when kid forgets to put his two fingers space up. So, all in all, they are very well behaved during morning writing. What I sometimes do is if I have a feeling that they are too energized or getting a bit bored, then I'll write the message and they become reading detectives. They have to try and figure out what the message says. They read as I write the message out.

    When I student taught, my master teacher would already have the message written up on the board before the kids come in. I think it's much more meaningful to write the message with the kids there. They get to see the process that goes into writing. My kids write everyday, either in their journal, in their scribble art book, or when they write a response to a story that I read.
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Make sure to have your students 'read' to you what they have written in their journals. I agree that the way to improve their writing is for them to write. Sounds silly, but, they won't learn to write from workbooks or dictated topics.
     
  19. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    And when students read their stories, this encourgaes other students to want to write. I remember the first time I shared a students writitng after workshop. The next day, a ton of my students put their journals on my chair so that I can read them to the class too.
     
  20. hyperangel

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    Model for students how to stretch out words and write ALL of the sounds they hear. This helps students get more sounds down in words. My mentor this year came up with an idea that has worked well. We are using clip art with Elconin Boxes under them (number of boxes based on how many letters in word) and have the kids stretch them out and write letters in the boxes.

    Also I just took a writing professional development course and they had some great ideas. Check out 4 Square Writing! My kindergarteners love it! Also allow children to use the magic line. Magic line is allowing kids to put a line where a word they are intimidated to spell goes and then the teacher can go back and help students to stretch it out. Hmmm thinking if there is anything else. If I think of something I will post it later. Hope this helps some.
     
  21. Miss_J

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    After your kiddos have learned about the journal, you can begin teaching them techniques to use. Choose one at a time. We do Kid-writing (hard if you don't have the volunteers) and each week I teach a new concept to focus on all week. At the start, it is making sure there is something for each word. We count our words and put mini-sticy notes down for each word. They then remove the sticky and write their word. In the middle of the year or so, we learned about spacing using spacemen. Now, I teaching them words using word crowns (the king of -ing, the star of are, the wiz of is.)
    We first learn the skill for that week during Kid Writing time with an adult helping each child (you could do shared writing the first few times instead.) After that, my kids practice the skill in their journals on their own. I just write what they were trying to write underneath.
    I also make sure I share student writing with the class. I point out things that they did well and put a sticker on the cover of their book.
    Hope that helps.
     
  22. Deeena

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    My students recently started writing songs! It is so clever. They just write it out and sing it to some familiar tune or just make up a tune. It was all their idea! This one girl made up a song about Easter today and yesterday, someone wrote a song about Peterpan. Some of the words in the song rhyme too! These kids always amaze me...
    Anyway, Peachy, I was wondering, when you do your shared writing, approximately how long does it take? Also, how many sentences do you and your students write in the story?
     
  23. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Shared writing takes about 10-15 minutes. Sentences vary- my high kids write about 3-4. My on grade level kids will write 2 and my students who are below usually write 1 sentence. But, it really depends on what they are writing on and if there is a holiday looming about. Today, they wrote some stories, that were good, but short. They were so energetic about Easter and the egg hunt, that they could barely sit for longer than 5 minutes. Other days, they can write and write and write.
     
  24. Anpadh

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    Peachyness, what grade level do you teach?
     
  25. vannapk

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    KinderKatie: You must check out Jessica Meacham's website for Writing Workshop- it's absolutely FANtastic! She has done all the work for you, all you need to do is implement it, here's the url:
    Jessica Meacham's Kindergarten Writing Workshop Lessons I also use journaling in my full-day pre-k classroom and at this point in the year my kids are writing really well.
    Here are some examples from their journals yesterday:
    "I like to play sokr wif Joey. Joey can kck the bal hrd!" (with spaces and punctuation)
    "My frends are Amarilis and Melanie. We like to ctch budrflis in the grdin." (with spaces and punctuation)

    If you use the writing workshop method and do a mini-lesson each day your kids will be writing like pros by the end of the year. I totally agree with the units of study recommendation. I also highly recommend "About the Authors" by Katie Wood Ray- it's like Calkins condensed, you can find it on Amazon and it's much cheaper ;)
     
  26. vannapk

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    KinderKatie- Here is a link to the journaling page on my website, it details exactly how I do journals ~*~vanna's journal page~*~ The most important thing about journals is not to assign topics, it should be a place where they can write about things of their own choosing, things that interest them, this will motivate them to write more. We have a separate time during the day when they practice writing to a prompt.
     
  27. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    kinder, at the moment
     
  28. KinderKatie

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    Apr 9, 2007

    Thank you everyone for your help!

    I did go to Vanna's homepage but I have a question for you, what is mini-office? You mention it here but don't explain what it is...

    "What do you do when the students are always asking you how to spell words?

    I have found some very effective tools to help my students stop asking the dreaded question "How do you spell...?". The first and most effective tool is the mini-office (see resource links below), these are an absolutely fantastic idea and will make worlds of difference in your student's journal writing time. I have used mini-offices in Kindergarten and Pre-K and they are quite effective. I don't use mini-offices in Pre-K until after Christmas, you have to determine if your students are ready for them or not, some groups may not be ready for them. The students felt even more empowered and successful when they used mini-offices because they had all the information they needed at their fingertips to solve their own problems. "
     
  29. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Kinderkatie, here is a link to a page about mini offices. I use them, the kids love them.
    http://www.geocities.com/jankwv/minioffice.html

    If you scroll down, you can find a link where you can download a template for making your own mini office.
     
  30. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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  31. vannapk

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  32. vannapk

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  33. MrsM1

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    Does anyone have any ideas on how to motivate my 1st graders to write. My students have been writing in journals every morning, but I haven't seen a whole lot of writing from them. I would really like to get them to enjoy writing & to get them preped for 2nd grd. Any ideas? What can I do...thanks in advance for your input. I appreciate it.
    MrsM1
     
  34. megereese

    megereese Rookie

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    writing in Kinder.

    I have taught kinder for five years now and I do journals three days a week and interactive witing two days a week. Before my journals we do alot of shared writing. Model, model, model. I have a kindergarten checklist that I made for them 1. capital letter, 2. finger spaces 3. punctuation at the end of the sentence
    4. read it to yourself to see if it makes sense. This is a poster and I have a writing prompt every month to see where they are at developmentally in their writing. When we have our prompts i give them a mini version of the rubric and they check off each one to make sure they have all of those components. I definitely still have little ones who are doing strings of letters still. Hope this helped.
     
  35. lw3teach

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    I would stop with journals and start with books. Research has shown that journals don't provide as much meaning for a child to write. They get a journal page and then have to be done.
    On the other hand, if students are allowed to make their own books and not be required to finish them within the confines of one period, they become really invested in their writing. I would suggest reading About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray. This just might give your first grade the boost they need.
     
  36. lw3teach

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    When we have our prompts i give them a mini version of the rubric and they check off each one to make sure they have all of those components. I definitely still have little ones who are doing strings of letters still. Hope this helped.[/QUOTE]

    I would love to hear more about this rubric. I have been looking for something like this!:angel:
     
  37. megereese

    megereese Rookie

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    It is a small version of the poster with little boxes next to each number that they check off.
    1. Every sentence starts with a capital letter. ( draw example)
    2. Remember to have finger spaces.(draw example with two fingers inbetween words)
    3. punctuation at the end of every sentence. ( picture of highlighted . ? !
    4. Read it to myself, does it make sense if not fix it. ( picture of little one reading)

    the bottom of the half page rubric says
    I AM A GREAT WRITER!!!!!!!!!!!!

    really holds the kids accountable. i love the ideas of ongoing books. I am starting to have them write books in centers. I will make the books longer so they can keep it ongoing each week.
     
  38. vannapk

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    I second the motion for Katie Wood Ray, her book About the Authors is absolutely fantastic. Our district will be moving to Reading/Writing Workshop next year and we are using her book along with the Units of Study as our foundations.
     
  39. MrsM1

    MrsM1 Rookie

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    Apr 10, 2007

    I like the book idea. Could you tell me a little more on how to get them started...my class did a book on family...after we read about families in reading. We have also done one on Texas. I guess any topic could become a class book. Do the kids each make a book or is it a class book? Thanks for the idea.
    MrsM1
     
  40. lw3teach

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    Apr 10, 2007

    The kids get all the materials for writing that they need:
    staplers, blank pages or pages with lines, pens, pencils, markers, tape, etc.
    This is all out for them to use.
    They are then able to create their own books indivdually.
    Through the Lucy Calkins units of Primary study, they start first writing about themselves and things that happen in their lives.
    Then they go on to memior. After that we studied an author, in my case, it was Mem Fox. Then we try to emulate that author in our writing. Either by using fancy words, comeback lines, bold print... whatever the case might be. For the past few months we have written and learned about non-fiction books. We wrote "how to" books, such as How to make Pizza, or How to ride a Bike. The kids choose their own topic. Gives it much more meaning that way.
    After that, we moved on to "all about" books. These are books about one specific subject such as cats or dogs.
    When we come back from break, we will be working with poetry.
    The kids typically write a 3 to 4 page book and when they share it with me and have edited for missing words, punctuation and spaces (I don't always make them do all three of these things at once) they can get a blank piece of typing paper to make a title page and a piece of construction paper to make a cover.
    I then let them walk around the school and find any adult who they can share with. This is really a great motivator and I have heard nothing but good things from the rest of the school. (of course, I probably wouldn't hear the bad would I? hee hee)
    I think it's all about the choice that the kids have on what they write about. Given enough guidance, in my opinion there is really no need for prompts. I just seems to stiffle their creativity. I am really proud of all my little kinders have accomplished this year... even if their writing doesn't look perfect. It means much more to me that they see themselves as true authors.
     
  41. MrsM1

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    Apr 10, 2007

    lw3-how long do you give your kids to finish their books? I know it's too late in the year, but I really like this book idea. I think it does give them motivation to write/illustrate...thank you so much. As a first year teacher it is interesting to find out all these new & FUN stuff to do with the kids...I hope I can implement this @ the beginning of next year. I will try to do a couple by the end of this year, it doesn't hurt to try now, right?!!
    One more ?, when you edit, how is it done? I mean do the kids write with pencil first and then move to more colorful medium? Thanks, MrsM1
     

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