June 28, 2015

Writing in the Early Childhood Classroom

Hi Friends! 
I am so happy to be sharing with you today!
 I've been wanting to do a post on writing for a while because in talking with so many early childhood teachers, I've learned that there is a lack of consistency when it comes to what our students are expected to produce. 
Today, I am going to share how writing works in my kindergarten classroom! However, it is completely applicable for all early childhood classrooms! 

There are 4 major types of writing that take place in my classroom:
1. Shared Writing
     2. Interactive Writing
    3. Writing Workshop 
        4. Independent Writing

What is Shared Writing?

Shared writing is when the students and teacher work together to compose a piece of writing. This piece could be a story, message, letter, etc. The teacher's role during this process is to be the scribe and to draw attention to things like letters, sounds and words as well as modeling how the writing process works.  This is also a great opportunity for students to see that their ideas can be translated from oral to written language.

What is Interactive Writing?
Just like shared writing, interactive writing is a process where the students and teacher work together to compose a piece of writing. The difference in the two is that the students are more involved in the writing process by "sharing the pen" with the teacher. During interactive writing, the teacher is not the sole scribe. Students come up and write letters, sounds, chunks and words in the collaborative piece.  The teacher's focus during this time is to guide students through the process of planning the writing, model and support students in breaking words into letters and sounds, demonstrate strategies and concepts of print, and to bring attention to the connection between writing and reading. We use our classroom word wall during this time to help us with words that we already know. Interactive writing pieces should be read through multiple times with the students. They should also be available for students to read independently.

What is Writing Workshop?
I am often surprised by the number of teachers I meet that do not use the Writing Workshop model in their classroom. I feel very fortunate that I was trained in Literacy Collaborative at Ohio State and therefore these components are in my blood. If you and your students struggle with writing in your classroom, I highly suggest starting with Writing Workshop.

Writing workshop is an approach where students compose individual writing pieces (narrative, opinion/persuasive, informational) with guidance and feedback from the teacher and even their peers.   I use the Lucy Calkins Writing Units of Study to guide my lessons during this time. Writing Workshop includes
three key components.

1. Mini-lesson (5-10 mins.)
A mini-lesson is a short, focused lesson that focuses on procedures, strategies/skills, and the writing craft.

2. Writing/Conferencing Time (20-30 mins.)
During this time, all students are working on their writing. Students may be a different places in the writing process, and that is okay!  The teacher spends this time conferencing with students to help them move forward with their writing piece. This is also the time that the teacher could pull a small guided writing group and focus on skills that are appropriate for those students.

3. Share Time (10-15 mins.) 

All students gather together and a couple of students share their "in progress" writing pieces or their "final" pieces. This a great way for students to receive feedback on their writing and practice conferring with their peers.  It's always a good idea to choose student writing samples that relate back to what you taught during the mini-lesson that day.

Here are a couple of pics of my kinders sharing their "how-to" stories with our second grade buddies!








What is Independent Writing?
Independent writing is when students use the resources in the classroom to engage in writing opportunities across multiple genres. During this time, very little teacher support is given. It's important for teachers to analyze student work during this time because it can help guide the direction  of future mini-lessons.

In my classroom I provide a Writing Work Station during my reading block. This is a time that students can independently work on various types of writing. The writing station is always one of my students' favorites!













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