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Writer’s Workshop

March 24, 2021 | Bridget O'Dowd

Several afternoons a week, the students gather together in whole and small groups to learn a new writing strategy, just like real writers do at writing conferences. The teacher models a particular writing strategy, such as labeling a drawing about a real life event, listening for initial sounds, or how to make mistakes and move on. The students are then sent off to work on their own compositions.
In the beginning, writing takes many forms. The most important element of writing is drawing a detailed picture. A detailed picture serves as a foundation for building a story. Writing can be an illustration.

Writing can also be a few letters. The students are first challenged to label their pictures. In writing the word “me,” the students are asked only to write the sounds that they hear. Some students may only hear the /m/ sound, while others may hear both the /m/ and /e/ sound. Both are developmentally appropriate forms of writing in kindergarten.

Writing may look like a string or a line of letters. As their writing has developed in organization, students are beginning to write sentences at the bottom of the page, just like books do. Many students include initial and ending sounds and are beginning to incorporate medial sounds and vowels!

Since the beginning of Writer’s Workshop we have seen the children grow in confidence. We are beginning to hear children claim writing as a favorite part of the day, and notice that they are reluctant to put their work away when our writing time is done. This enthusiasm provides an excellent buffer for both present and future writing challenges. The children are encouraged to write about topics they are an expert on, themselves! In the pictures below you will see how the children’s work has changed since the last writing post. Many students are forming sentences and using strategies to sound out words. All of the students are working hard and developing meaningful writing habits.

Right now, writing will always look autobiographical. Students are asked to write true stories about themselves. While imaginative drawing is fun, it’s easiest to include details and a firm storyline when the event actually exists in the student’s memory.

 

Writing will also lead the way to reflection. After the writing time has finished, we all gather together again to reflect on our writing. We discuss topics, what happens when you make a mistake, and strategies we used to listen for sounds.

As your child shows interest, you can help your child write at home as well:

  • Encourage your child to draw detailed pictures to tell fictional or real-life stories.
  • If your child is interested, he/she can label items in the picture. Be mindful that “k,” “cn,” “ktn,” and “kitten” can all spell the word kitten in Kindergarten.
  • Great questions to ask are, “What sounds do you hear in that word?”or “Can you show me how you stretch out that word?”
  • This is not the season for correcting spelling patterns. The aim is for the child to become confident in his/her understanding and power over the written language, which will provide him/her with the confidence to enter the world of reading. (Too much “pressure” can serve to create a negative self-concept in regards to reading and writing.)

Bridget O'Dowd

Ms. O’Dowd came to Mustard Seed in 2017, after moving to Hoboken in 2016. She found a school and a community all in one package at Mustard Seed! Having taught kindergarten in Illinois before moving to New Jersey, Ms. O’Dowd has a passion for five-year-olds. She’s delighted to be a part of the kindergarten team and loves to read and share in story with students. Her favorite moment of the day is during a good read aloud, when she looks out and sees the faces of children showing empathy and emotion in response to the story. Ms. O’Dowd’s hobbies include exploring new neighborhoods, watching BBC documentaries, traveling to visit family, and eating her way through New York City.

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