Wow! “I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone.” I’ve been listening to the concerns of some of you in class about the capabilities of the young writers in your class. Which has raised concerns in my mind as to what my role as a teacher of young writers (kindergartener) is. I think before we can know where the knowledge and capabilities went, we must clearly see and understand how these capabilities come.
My readings this week from Already Ready, Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten by Katie Wood & Matt Glover, chapters 6 and 7 helped bring some clarity to mind about “Teaching Practices That Nurture Young Writers.” I learned that as a teacher of young writers we have to give opportunity for them to engage in all the complexity of writing as a process, and then help them make sense of the process when they need help making sense of it. We tend to want to make it simple for them and us by dictating what they should write about. In the real world of Kindergarten and the later grades, in our writing workshops our students write because they are told, “it’s time to write”, not because they choose to write. Writing development becomes more of a focus in the curriculum. But in preschool, writing is all about awareness and exploration (NSEYC and IRA 2005). Those two words stand out to me, “awareness” and “exploration”.
When was the last time your young writers saw you write? (e.g., jotting down some notes as you are interacting with them or making a list of things you are going to need for the next day’s class on the board.) I learned that all teachers should be mindful of what their actions demonstrate about writing. It’s not enough for our young writers to see their teachers writing; they need to see teachers writing and also be made aware that writing is a profitable endeavor. The difference is subtle, but important. By itself, this is certainly an important demonstration. But its significance grows when the teacher later shares something from their notes, reading from them and commenting on them in ways that let children see how important it was for you to write things down in the first place. I think our young writers lose sight of the importance of writing in everyday life. (p.112)
I want to have a classroom where children get lots of teacher support for their writing development. Meaning that:
- Children choose to write
- Children are encouraged to write both during their play and exploration, and to write as play and exploration.
- Children learn about writing from social interactions and the demonstrations of their peers.
- Children learn about writing from the demonstrations of their teachers.
- The verb to make is a good word to use to capture the spirit of young children’s composing.
- Children can benefit from an expanded definition of reading. (p.118)
This week I made a video of some of our kindergarten class sharing with their peers what they wrote about their characters in their books. Yes, this is a part of writing that has been dictated what they should write about, but I wanted you to see them sharing with their peers.
Download of video still in progress.
Here are some pictures of my students work