Welcome to the first post of the book study based on Engaging Young Writers, by Matt Glover with Forward by Katie Wood Ray. During the next five weeks, three other bloggers and myself will share our take on each chapter as well as a few resources that may help you “engage” your young writers!
As always, your thoughts are valued, so feel free to comment on your reflections too! Let’s get started!
Q1: How does this encourage children to be writers?
Obviously, teachers of kindergarten students begin all writing with the names of students. It is the most important thing to them…their identity, sense of self. We make Name Bingo books for class books first, then I print copies of the entire book for every child to take home. It is the first book they can write and read with confidence. Now, on with Q1:
Writers in a kindergarten class are at a very critical place when it comes to developing a sense of what writing is. Self-esteem comes into play in most areas of their work, and is the most important trait that must be developed. Each writing is a process in confidence building. Students will want to show they understand concepts, then be open to being recognized for their accomplishments. Writing class books provides each child a platform for reaching the larger audience of writers and readers. We all relish in the accomplishment of each child as their work is read from our class books. The final step is providing time for individual “mini-books” to be created for sharing at home. The following is a video of how to fold and cut the 8 page booklet. I have used this one for many years. Students love the novelty of the tiny booklet.
Here is a great trick for creating mini-booklets:
Q2: How do you honor approximations in writing?
OH MY GOODNESS! This is my favorite part of the writing process!! Each child from the very beginning must have their work shared, so we began early in the year posting photos of their work on our @Seesaw app as often as time would allow. Parents gave immediate feedback which boosted confidence exponentially! During the class period, we also share work on the smart board using our document camera. This allows students to see their beautiful progress and be a featured writer in our class. We do this as often as possible, and encourage the student to discuss the writing with us. It is only after we share with our peers that we decide to post it for others to see in our outer hall display area. The most important eyes have already seen the work by then.
This little girl ran up to me last week stating she had really written the following words all by herself…she kept saying she couldn’t believe she sounded them out herself! I was so happy to share this photo of her on Seesaw, and have her to read it to the class! Immediate recognition is so important for these young writers.
This little guy wrote a story using phonetic spelling all by himself. I did help him remember the ou (owie letters) to spell the word, outside. He was nearly bursting with pride! Again, we shared it and gave immediate credit to him for his accomplishment. If you fail to do this, you fail to create an excitement for writing in your students!
Chapter 2, Q1: Which type of writing do you tend to lead your students toward?
Over the years, I have developed a sense of what is important to each child. Things about their own lives will get them to write without hesitation, so personal narrative is strongly encouraged.
One year I had a little guy who was obsessed with John Deere green tractors. I immediately recognized this as the avenue of opportunity for engaging him in the writing process. He already knew how to draw tractors, so this was his starting point. Beyond drawing the tractors, there were specific stories involving the tractor that came to life. We were able to cover our writing standards well, and the focal point of his writing remained the green tractor. We wrote a letter to the tractor company, made lists of things we would need to repair the tractor, wrote stories about plowing the field or baling hay, etc. There were many stories with tractors as the central theme. My point is: You MUST meet the child where they are. Take time to talk to them to find out what is of great importance in their young lives, then act on it as you encourage each child to write.
Q2: How does the idea of various entry points fit into your classroom writing routine?
It is obvious in my above story that I like using the child’s own experiences as the primary entry point in writing. However, there are children who need to approach writing as a response to a favorite book, or perhaps they need the scaffolding guided drawing provides. Each child is unique, and the bottom line is: We owe them the time to get to know them in order to find out what will make them joyful writers.
Thank you for reading, and please do share what you value as entry points into writing with young writers. All teachers have something to gain from what we share as a collective group of educators. Have a wonderful week!