My classroom is composed of 16 active and noisy kindergarteners. I have 9 girls and 7 boys. The majority of my class is still 5 years old at this point in the year. As a whole they are an energetic group that needs a lot of movement often. They enjoy listening to stories and humorous ones or heavily sequenced books are their favorites. As a teacher of writing, I am modeling writing everyday in a whole group setting and a smaller lesson in guided reading groups. The smaller lesson is differentiated to meet the various needs of my class. Most of the time we are writing about text we have read or are working on specific words. I also have a journal time everyday for my students. At the beginning of the year, I had students write as soon as they came into the room, morning work. It was explorative, I would show a picture on the Smartboard or a tangible object, sometimes a mystery object; and they would write and draw about it. This activity included them saying aloud what they were going to write (multiple times), counting how many words it would be, then pointing to where each word would go. This takes so much practice. However I began to see growth in December. Most of my students understand the concept of tracking and use beginning sound knowledge, the are tapping out words to write and have some amount of sight word vocabulary. At the return to school after Christmas break, I made the transition for my students to complete the daily journal writing in the writing center now with the help of my assistant.

 

My top goal for my students, is to help them achieve a positive self images as young writers. The reason I have chosen this goal is because of the stress I have seen my kindergarten students have at the beginning of each year. I start the year with being very supportive and try to encourage free “writing” and exploration toward what the rest of the world outside of kindergarten knows as writing. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the year children cry and are filled with doubt about writing. I am not sure why at the age of 5 they are already feeling pressure to be perfect in something that they have not been taught. It makes me sad and confused when they just do not scribble like i know they do when no one is watching.  I believe that most of them know how to “write” like that.

I am setting this goal because I want writing to be a more productive discovery activity, in which kindergarten students morph at their own pace to become ready to write in kindergarten and continue to grow in first grade. I want them to feel free to write, they way they know how and are comfortable with. Through modeling daily and showing a variety of writing (lists, narratives, poetry), I want them to be willing to write and feel proud of the writing they create. Some concerns I have about this goal are the various different levels of children I get at the beginning of each year. I know children, even at the age of 5, struggle more when they realize that they do not know as much as someone else in class. I want to be able to reach every child and allow them all to feel proud of their work.

I am also setting a goal to write more as a class. I have a time for daily modeling with some direction from the students. However,  I want my students to work together to make pieces of writing, which can include pictures and/or dictation. These can be letter books, picture books, stories, poetry and lists. I believe that writing as a class can help support the individuals that are not as far along with writing as others are, as well has boost the kids that are confident and promote the ability to help others and share their knowledge. I need my first goal of having a positive self image to be in place before I tackle class writing. At the beginning of the year I did make a letter book. A few students worked on a letter at a time. In the end most students worked on 4-6 letters in the book. I did not feel like I made the activity collaborative enough. Everybody worked on it at different times and I added pieces to the book as they were completed.

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9 thoughts on “Scribble like no one is watching.

  1. Do you have any photos of the “Letter Book”? It would be helpful to see some visuals of the kinds of writing invitations and shared writing that you did in the fall of kindergarten so that readers can see how you build upon this in the second half of the year.

    Your goal of building students’ confidence in writing is such a critical element in the process of “learning to write.” The reality is that if students decide in kindergarten that they’re not good writers (or don’t enjoy writing) it is challenging to ever “fix” that mindset in the later grades. To become a better writer at any age, one must write… a lot! And resistant/reluctant writers tend to find ways to write as little as possible. It becomes a vicious cycle. I look forward to seeing how you build upon shared writing experiences across the semester to build independence and confidence.

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  2. I am reading a book titled About the Authors – Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers by Katie Wood Ray with Lisa B. Cleaveland. In Chapter 2, the author talks about a teacher who addresses those children who lack self-confidence in their writing abilities. I believe this might be something you could try in your kindergarten classroom. The days leading up to launching Writer’s Workshop, the teacher shows lots of examples of writing from children like them have done in the past. The examples show them a wide range of what the teacher is expecting them to be able to do with writing. Her hope is the children will see one example that they will think to themselves, “I can do that!” These examples range from crude drawings with no writing up to illustrated books with writing on each page. The teacher talks about all the examples with equal importance emphasizing that each one carries meaning and can be read. When this approach is used, the teacher said she had very few children who think they can’t do it.

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  3. I love your catchy title! Your statement “My top goal for my students, is to help them achieve a positive self images as young writers” seems to be the most important, in my opinion. As in kindergarten, 3rd graders come in still not very confident with their writing. I think my most important goal is for my students to enjoy writing…that’s a very hard task, especially if they have learned to hate it over the past few years before coming into 3rd grade. I appreciate you trying to reach that goal so that when they enter 3rd grade, their feelings towards writing isn’t like it is for most students today!

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  4. It’s hard to hear that, at such a young age, kids are already stressed about writing. I suppose a lot of it comes from the culture of “having” to be right. If they feel like they may fail at something, they are automatically resistant and scared! I run into this issue a lot when I have my kids do inquiry activities. These are always prior to the lesson in attempts to activate prior knowledge and just have the kids attempt to make sense of something. I simply want them thinking, yet they are always terrified it’s for a grade. It takes a long time for them to realize that I do not care if they are wrong during these types of activity, and some of them never get over feeling like they have to be right all the time.

    I think it’s awesome and so important that you are building confidence in your kindergarteners! To echo Beth above, if the kids decide that early on that they’re not good at something or they’re dreading something, the fix is nearly impossible. By the time they get to me it is totally impossible to get them to like it and, in a lot of cases, impossible to get them to do it at all. Encouraging and building their confidence in their first schools years is imperative!

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  5. I do not have the Letter Book anymore. Handmade paper books never last long in the reading center. I have made a mental note to keep better track of the writing we complete moving forward for data purposes.

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  6. Your title drew me in to make your blog my first read of the week. I was excited to see what your snazzy title would lead to within your description of your students. I love to listen to you talk about your students because your voice is always filled with care and compassion for each of your students. I can tell by reading your post how important it is that your students are successful and that you desire for them to leave you ready for the next chapter in their education.

    It absolutely broke my heart reading about your students at the beginning of the year crying and “not knowing how to write”. I remember being a young child watching my parents sign their name and write grocery lists and wanting to be just like them. I remember scribbling like no one was watching and not having a care in the world because I knew what I was writing had meaning and I was confident in that. It is so hard to read about children that are only 5 stressing about the “right” way to write. Where has the freedom and excitement of scribbling gone? What has caused a 5 year old to be so conscientious about the way that things should be rather than exploring what they think they already know? Keep up the good work in your classroom, teaching them that you believe in them is what fostering writing is all about, and you are doing that every day!

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  7. “I know children, even at the age of 5, struggle more when they realize that they do not know as much as someone else in class. I want to be able to reach every child and allow them all to feel proud of their work.” This statement is also true of students who are eleven and twelve years old. I think we automatically think that writing ability matures with the child, but it has to be taught, just like reading, math, or any other content subject. My students are also struggling with the realization that their peers may be better writers, and instead of serving as motivation to do better, sometimes acts as a deterrent to their desire to write. They are always asking if we can “just have a discussion.” They still haven’t connected the importance of talk as a prewriting activity.

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  8. The women that I student taught with was a big fan of group writing. She had taught kindergarten for over 20 years and, from my point of view, seemed to have mastered it. Students began every day writing in a journal for morning work. She was constantly modeling writing for her students.What fascinated me most about her writing instruction was that the class composed some form of group writing on a weekly bases. The kids loved the activity! Most important, her students were AMAZING writers!

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  9. I agree with your comment about students thinking that they can’t write like “that.” I have had several of my Kindergarten students comment that they don’t know how to write or that they can’t write like me. I have to remind them that they are all writers and that we all write in our own way to express ourselves. I don’t want them to compare their writing to anyone else. I like to encourage them to look back at their writing and pictures from the beginning of the year and see how far “they” have come.
    I also like your idea of having students work together to create writing pieces. Students love working together and it takes some of the pressure off of having to do the work by themselves.

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