Writer’s Workshop

Growing Readers & Writers using Predictable Charts!

bird-with-pencil

When I began teaching Kindergarten, my mentor, Ms. Wynn (the AP of my school) insisted that I use this one piece of curriculum: The Predictable Chart. After using it for just one week, I saw why. The repetition of the sentences encourages fluent reading and sight word recognition. It is also a quick mini-lesson that can take just 10 minutes/day!

The Predictable Chart is simply written in front of the children, as you go, and on Chart Paper. It is a great way to make sentences with the sight words that we are focusing on for the week. Later in the year, I type the sentences for the children to see on the Smartboard, and I have them type in their word to complete the sentence!

This is an example of a completed”Predictable Chart” that I did with my class. “I” and “like” were the sight words that we focused on in this chart. 

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Day 1 – 3:  To begin, the teacher writes the sentence and lists what he/she likes. As you can see, I wrote: “I like coffee.” Then, I wrote my name in parenthesis. Then, I let another student say their sentence, as I write down exactly what he says, emphasizing spaces between words, letter formation, capital and lowercase differences and correct ending marks. This would take almost 30 minutes to go through a class of 20 students, so I go through 5-7 students each day, taking only 3 days for everyone to have a turn.

Day 4:  Children (or I) cut apart the sentences and words, for each child and  the children put their sentence back together again. I check it and if its correct, they can glue it to construction paper. Then they read the sentence.

Day 5:  I have them write their sentence all by themselves. This is a great way to see if they have learned to read the words, as well as write them. Then, each child illustrates their own sentence. When finished, they read their sentences to one another.

This is one of the first Predictable Charts that we did at the start of the school year. I made it interactive and had the children come up one by one and write their own first name.

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I usually do the Predictable Chart lesson at the end of my Phonics lesson. It is a good transition that goes right into my Literacy/Reading Lesson or Story of the day.

As I blog hopped over to some other great teachers, I found some more amazing examples of Predictable charts. You can even read the long version of the vital keys of P.Charts! http://mrsosterman.blogspot.com/2011/09/love-love-predictable-charts.html  and http://growingkinders.blogspot.com/2010/10/predictable-charts.html  and http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds/files/how-to-handouts/PredChartWriting.pdf

References:

“The Teacher’s Guide to Building Blocks” by Dorothy Hall [this is also the book that my mentor insisted I use as the foundation for teaching Kindergarten! It did help me alot, even though it looks outdated and lacking some elements. I still recommend it!]

“Predictable Charts: Shared Writing for Kindergarten and First Grade” by Dorothy Hall

http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds/files/how-to-handouts/PredChartWriting.pdf

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The Writing and Reading Connection

As an educator and Master teacher, I always knew that writing and reading were inter-connected. Actually there are so many things that us educators already “know.” Over the past decade, though, research proves that so many of the things that we already “knew” are actually true. Here is some research to back up the fact that by becoming a better writer, you will become better at reading.

1. Writing forces a child to focus on forming letters correctly.
2. When children are learning and practicing writing words, messages and stories, they are also learning to read those words in their own writing and in books.
3. Writing left to right instills that practice and knowledge of reading left to right.
4. As simple as it sounds – reading and writing mutually reinforce each other!
5. Paraphrasing things on paper, like vocabulary word definitions or what was just read, actually helps increase Reading Comprehension!
6. When a child sounds out words when he writes, he is actually developing phonemic awareness at the same time. Phonemic awareness is a pre-reading skill!

Sources:
http://sturgeonl.hubpages.com/hub/Teach-Children-Writing-to-Boost-Reading-Skills
http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED278940&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED278940
http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/329

Journals for young writers

Picture of a generic composition book, with a ...

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I have made some labels to help me encourage my students to write more. Each attached sheet below can be printed out and then cut apart to give each child one label. The label will help remind everyone what the child should have written or drawn about on that particular day.

I have already found some great labels online that I have printed and added onto either notebooks or bradded folders. I used whatever I had received for school supplies (composition books for Reading and Writing, spirals for Science, bradded folder filled with hold punched construction paper for Poetry and the same for Math).

These journals will be a great tool for tracking student progress and to also allow them to reflect on what they are learning about. This is the first year that I will be having my students use a journal for every subject area. What a great way to reduce the cost of copies and the use of those unappealing worksheets. Teachers, parents and children like to see what they can do on their own anyway!

Reading and Writing Journal Prompt Labels

Journal prompts for writing

Journal labels- Bb Words

Journal labels- Ll Words

Journal labels “Mm words”

Journal labels “T Words”

Math Journal Prompt Labels

Journal labels- Rectangles

Journal labels- Spheres

Journal labels- Squares

Journal labels- Triangles

Journal labels- Patterns

Science Notebook prompting Labels

Journal labels- Science Tools

Amazing – five year old authors and illustrators!

Have you ever seen a five year old, of average intelligence, write her own little book out of folded construction paper? Last year was my first year teaching Kindergarten students how to be authors. I was inspired by the book Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover. I was skeptical at first, until I saw my daughter start writing her own mini-books. She was also a Kindergarten student at the time. I now have a collection of her original works as a five year old author, from August to May. This year, I launched my Writer’s Workshop again. Here is how I began.

First, I folded and cut one piece of white construction paper into 1/4th’s and then stapled it. I had one for each child made before the lesson. Next, I started a mini-lesson and read a “mentor text” -a simple Dr. Seuss book (“I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”). I showed how the author drew pictures and wrote words to match them. I explained how the author stayed on topic and wrote about reading, and not flowers. Next, I explained to my students that they are authors and illustrators too and that they would start making their own books. I showed them the little book and told them how I was going to write a book of my own about cats, because I like cats, a lot. So, I began writing simple sentences on each little page. Page 1- “I like cats.” Page 2- “I like orange cats.” Page 3- “I like striped cats.” Page 4- “I like black cats.” Page 5- “I like little cats.” “The end.”

I asked my students to think about what they like and what they would like to write about. Amazingly, it took only seconds for them to think and tell their buddy what they wanted to write about. I heard these ideas from my students: “race-cars!” “lipstick,” and “puppies!” Finally, I gave each child a little tiny book and they began writing. I reminded them to write their title first and their name, since they were the authors. I must say, I was so amazed by their cute and simple illustrations. Most students wrote no words yet, but that is ok, as Katie Wood Ray asserts in her books. Illustrations can tell a story and this is how we encourage students to begin reading-to look at the pictures and tell what is happening. So, this is how we encourage writing, by beginning with illustrations.

After about 5-7 minutes of writing, I told the students that we would have to stop for now and continue writing tomorrow, during our Writer’s Workshop. They begged for more time, but I showed them their brand new Writer’s Workshop folders (pocket folders) where they would put their little books. My student’s were so proud of their books. The next day, I had them begin on the rug with their books and “read” their books to a buddy. I paired up each student with a buddy, to make it less chaotic and to ensure that each child had someone to “read” to. After a minute of sharing, I instructed them to go back to their tables and write some more.

In my next postings about writing little books, I will address what to do with those students who just scribble or only write their name on each page, if even that. To read more about Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover’s books about writing, follow this link: http://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/E01073/RayAlreadyFlyer.pdf

Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and KindergartenIn Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study

Writers workshop folder label

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The use of color inspired my little ones. We noticed how the illustrator chose to use black paper for her book and how it made the book for colorful and spooky! So, we decided to write our own spooky books! Many students wrote about monsters too!

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Title "Dragons, Alligators and Monsters"

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Jackson wrote: "I see a monster"

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"The alligator"

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"He has no mouth or nose"

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"The end"

Ryan’s book about “Camping With Dad.”

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Since it is the beginning of the year, Kindergarten students do not yet understand the cocept of "sounding out" words to write them. Many of them are at the phonetical or pre-phonetical stage of writing, which is actually developmentally appropriate. However, I help them to "sound out" titles for their books by making a running list. This is the list that we compiled before writing in the little black spooky books.