*** Please note that this is a recap from last week's email for those who might have missed it as well as the next steps we took in writing this past week.
We dove deep into what makes a good piece of writing. What is portfolio worthy of selection? The class deemed the following ideas essential to help evaluate their pieces to determine their best work for their end of the year portfolios.
-Details in your pictures and your words
-Stories that have an idea
-Stories that have something/events going on
-Good fine motor (neat)
-Writing on the lines
-Persisting- writing a lot
In the fall, our focus was on learning how to tell a story with events and wanting the audience to crave more. Frequently, during our story telling, I would use the phrase, “Then what?” or “Why?” This supported the children to dive deeper and help close gaps in their stories. Without the oral piece to our storytelling, our ideas would be two dimensional when eventually transcribing our thoughts to paper.
The next step was to put these ideas on paper in picture form. This allows the children to make their ideas not only concrete and visible for all to see, but still fluid. The children then use this paper with their picture to support their oral language when sharing their story out loud. They can then modify by adding or deleting pieces from their picture to support their language. This is a crucial step in the writing process. The reason being is since their literacy skills are still developing, we want to foster the art of storytelling without diminishing their ideas. Depending on where a child is on the writing spectrum, a teacher may transcribe their words exactly how they are spoken and then the child may just write the main idea or key events in their story.
At this point in the year, many children are writing stories where there is a clear problem and solution and/or sequential events in their pieces. They are eagerly writing more and more each day. Even the more reluctant writers are able to get their thoughts and ideas down on paper with ease and satisfaction.
We are taking the writing process at their pace to ensure that joy is always present. Sometimes looking at a blank page can be intimidating for writers of all ages, including adults. It is our responsibility as teachers, learning alongside the children, to support each child where they are and help make their ideas visible and understood by all.
You may notice that we use black felt tip pens for writing, referred to as “Thinking Pens.” There are a few reasons for this…
-no time is wasted at the pencil sharpener
-no time dwelling on mistakes
-no torn papers from erasing
-the children have to be more intentional with their letter formation and ideas for pictures
-there is something to be said about a smooth stroke of a felt tip pen (what adult does not LOVE a good pen, right?)
Also, you may note different kinds of paper being used throughout the first semester. Proper letter formation is crucial and sometimes having lines can be challenging when perfecting one’s stroke. Some children may have started with no lines; some with just a bottom line; some with top and bottom lines; and some with three lines (bottom, top, and middle). We try to reach the children at their zone of proximal development for their fine motor skills.
While diving deeper into the children’s Writing Folders, some goals for Second Semester include:
-using more descriptive language in our stories
-exploring non-fiction writing
-going through the editing process
New protocols were introduced last week to slow down the writing process and have their work be more intentional.
The first protocol was to take the children's ideas of what makes a piece portfolio worthy and make it visible and accessible for them to reflect on. When the children believe a piece is done, they refer to the individual checklist and reread their piece with these ideas in mind. H.V. reflected on this idea of the "checklist" and shared that we should consider it a "Best List" because our work does not need to be perfect, it just needs to show our best efforts. This idea resonated with me tremendously. Our work in life does not need to be perfect, but rather a reflection of our best efforts. It is about our growth as humans, not necessarily our final destinations.
Below is a picture of P.F. rereading their completed piece and reflecting about each item on the "Best List."
The second protocol was creating a recording sheet for their works. After the Best List is completed, the children then move their completed piece to the other side of their Writer's Workshop folder (the red side). They record the start and complete date of the work, a title, and whether a Best List was completed. In the writing process, there are no time constraints to finishing a piece. The only expectation is that thought and effort go into the work until satisfaction is met by the student. The goal of this recording sheet is to hold the children accountable for sticking with a piece until completion before rushing into the next one.
Since joy and momentum are present in the children's writing, we can now dive deeper second semester into their works from sentence structure to their ideas. I am looking forward to what the second semester holds!
Some random facts about me...