please help with writing workshop!

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by minnie, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Jan 20, 2008

    I REALLY need other ideas for my writing workshop. What do you all do? It just seems like mine is getting boring. I want my kids to look forward to writing.

    PLEASE! Any suggestions?
     
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  3. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Have you visited Jessica Meacham's website? She has the whole year of writing workshop lessons all written out for you, and they even include the book titles- they're superb!
    Jessica Meacham's Writing Workshop Mini-Lessons

    To help spice up my writing workshop time we have an "introduction song", a song we sing every time it's time to transition to writing workshop. I use the LeapFrog Letter Factory song (Every Letter Makes a Sound), but Dr. Jean's new CD Totally Reading has several that would be appropriate.

    I also changed up some things last week (start of new semester) by adding colored pencils, new writing notebooks w/pockets, all new crayons, and regular pencils to our writing workshop time. I also added mini-word walls, rainbow words rainbow, a little words chart, and an ABC chart to each writing notebook (2 pocket folder w/brads). I told them that they are "big kids" now and all this stuff is what the "big kids" use, but I think they can handle it because they are getting so big etc. They love to think of themselves as big kids! So far it has worked like magic and they are trying harder and are more motivated to write.
    good luck!
     
  4. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Vanna - as always, excellent suggestions!

    I also try to get them really excited about writing. I see so many other Kinder teachers who simply have them copy sentences from the board and that's their writing intstruction.

    I will do a mini-lesson - that's really where I try to catch their attention and make it seem fun. There are so many things technically they need to work on now - I just choose one for the day. Then they write "independently" - some still need help sounding out the words. But we write about artwork, different genres of music or sometimes just something to make them think like "where does chocolate come from?" I have them share what they wrote with the class and we make positive suggestions.

    There are several really good books out there as well - I like "Growing Up Writing" and I just bought one that's 1st Grade level, I can't remember what it's called but it also had the lessons spelled out. Good Luck!
     
  5. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Thank you all so much! KinderCowgirl, I like your idea on mini lessons and just focusing on one aspect of writing a day. And vannapk, I like how you tell your kids that they are big kids and giving them colored pencils. I'm sure that would excite my kids a little more.
     
  6. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Jan 21, 2008

    How far along are your kids in writing? My mentor teacher has told me that writing does not come right away for them, of course, but they go through stages. A teacher should not push them to write a specific way, it has to come naturally for them.
    Before we write, we talk about our topic and I model my writing on the board. I emphasize spacing between words and hearing sounds in words, I really stretch out the words as we say them. I write what they give me on the boards. Then above that, I write my "adult writing" and we compare my writing with their writing. We do this everyday but it seems to get boring for them and my kids still don't use spacing between words and some of them just write down letters that don't correspond with sounds. I would think that after doing this everyday, they would catch on.
    Writing is my greatest difficulty with my teaching because I don't think they are where they should be. I really want them to start writing 2-4 sentences since it is the start of a new semester.
    I don't want to push my kids too much to write a certain way because I'm thinking that they are not developmentally ready. What do you think?
     
  7. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Minnie - my daughter is in a 1/2 day K program and there is no way she is ready to write 2-4 sentences. In the K class I student taught at it was full day and when I left in Dec I'd say some were at 2-3 sentences with prompting but many were at 1 or maybe 2. It takes a long while to build up to longer stories. I'm not sure if CA if a state with full day K or not. Here in PA it's up to each school district.

    I did find BTW that with my better writers that I could easily have them add another sentence with a question from me such as "I have a 'how' question for you... How did you feel when that happened?" Then the kid would tell me and I'd encourage him to add that to his story. My question would of course depend on the illustration done and the sentence(s) already written.
     
  8. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Thanks MsMar for the reply. Yes, I do have full day K. But I have a couple of students who are great writers so I really like how you ask them more questions to encourage them to write more. We do not have an adpopted writing workshop curriculum so, like PA, it's up to the teacher. I have tried Kid Writing and I have used some of their stuff, but not all of it because I felt I was helping the students too much and they needed to explore writing more on their own. Once again, thank you!:)
     
  9. CityESLTeacher

    CityESLTeacher Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2008

  10. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Jan 21, 2008

    I agree with CityESL, this is a great book, I own it. I also highly recommend About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray which is also all about WW for kindergarten, both are fantastic.
     
  11. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Most of my students write 2-4 sentences in writing workshop daily. Some sentences are better than others, but they are recognizable sentences nonetheless. We are piloting using the Lucy Calkins writing program and it will be mandatory for our district next year. One of the main points is for the teacher to write about real-life experiences and model it in detail. I also meet with students one-on-one during writer's workshop to discuss their stories and specific points. Some of the meetings focus on the topic from the mini-lesson, but most are on something specific to that student.
     
  12. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Jan 21, 2008

    Thanks again for the great tips! I am just having problems with my kids listening for the sounds as they write and using spacing between words. I model, model, model when I do my mini lessons and they give me the right letters to use and they do a great job with me. But when they go to their tables to write, they just start writing letters and they don't even think about the sounds or spacing. Its frusterating because I know they can do it with me, how come they can't do it independently?
     
  13. 2ndTimeArnd

    2ndTimeArnd Companion

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    Jan 22, 2008

    The Jessica Meacham site is truly amazing. How does a primary teacher have that kind of time? I'm thinking her middle name is probably o-r-g-a-n-i-z-a-t-i-o-n, which I may never have in my lifetime. Thanks, poster ... I'll be using it for more than just writing ideas.
     
  14. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Jan 22, 2008

    Have you tried using mini ABC charts and mini word walls when they are at their tables on their own? How about "spacemen"? I teach my kids to "use their tools" and I model how to use these things every day in my mini-lesson. I say things like "Good writers use their tools to help them write." If they come to me with something that is sub par I ask "Did you use your tools?". Kids like to use the spacemen, they think it's fun - they can be weaned off them once they have really mastered the spaces between words. ABC charts and mini-word walls will also help them sound out words.

    Something else I use that really helps is a "rules of writing workshop" chart, it lists the steps they have to take. We created the chart in class together at the beginning of the year and we have added to it as we grew in our writing.

    1. Good writers write their name with their pencil. (I taped a golf pencil next to this sentence)
    2. Good writers sit at their tables to write. (picture of chair)
    3. Good writers draw pictures to tell their story.
    4. Good writers write a story with their pencil.
    5. Good writers use their tools (I taped a spaceman, and drew a picture of the ABC chart next to this one)
    6. Good writers listen to the sounds in their words. (picture of ear)
    7. Good writers conference with the teacher when they are finished. (picture of me)

    We review this chart daily before dismissing to independent practice. If they come to me with sub par work I send them back to the chart to check and see if they did all the steps listed.
     

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