We are writers!
Four to five times a week, the children do writer's workshop. Writing is an exciting time for us, because we are all writers. You may be wondering what to Kindergartners do as writers? Well, Livonia Public Schools use the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) writing units. In Kindergarten, the units are as follows:
1. Building a Talking Community
2. Launching the Writer's Workshop (Personal Narratives)
3. Label and List
4. Pattern Books
5. Growing as Small Moment Writers
6. Opinion Letters
7. How-to Books
8. Informational Writing: Personal Expertise
Even though we may all be at different levels, kindergartners still follow the writing process.
(from Heidi Songs)
Before starting a unit, there is normally an immersion phase, where we listen to good mentor texts. A mentor text is a story or piece of writing that shows the type of writing we will be doing. We study these examples and look for the components that we will be including in our writing.
(How to Write a Story sample chart from MAISA)
We start by prewriting. During prewriting, we plan and organize. We usually start by brainstorming as a whole class and sometimes we make a chart of our ideas. We then decide on our own personal topic. Once we have that idea, we close our eyes and picture it. By doing this we are visualizing our story and making an individual plan. Once we have our ideas, we turn and talk. During this time, we have a writing partner that we share our ideas with. If we are writing a whole story (like a personal narrative), sometimes we will plan our stories by touching each page of our writing book and saying what will appear on that page.
After we have our ideas, we begin drafting. During this time, we are getting all our thoughts down first by drawing pictures. They are usually able to tell you their story just by looking at the pictures. We then encourage the children to label the important parts of their pictures. We use inventive spelling, where we write down all the sounds we hear in the words. Once the children are able to label, they are encouraged to write a sentence (or more) to describe the picture. Once again, inventive spelling is used as we stretch out our words and write down all the sounds we hear. However, the children are expected to write their heart words correctly.
As the year goes on, we will focus more on the next two steps. During revising, the children will clarify or improve their writing. Please note, revising is not editing!! In revision, we go back and reread what we wrote. We ask ourselves questions like "does this make sense?" "did I write down all the sounds?" "is there anything I want to add?". An important part of revising is reading exactly what we wrote, so we practice pointing to the words as we read to make sure we wrote them all down.
After we are satisfied with our writing, we then go back and edit it. It in the editing phase that we check for capital letters at the beginning of our sentences. We also look for finger spaces between our words and punctuation at the end. We may use a rubric like this to guide us in the editing phase.
Regardless if we revise and edit or not, we always celebrate! Publishing is the last phase of the writing process. We share our work with other students by sitting on the teacher's stool or putting it up on the over head. We applaud each other for our efforts. The students give compliments (at least 3) to the author. We also share a wondering or an improvement idea for next time as well. Sometimes, we will have a writing celebration (author's tea) where parents come in and we have snacks and share our writing!
I hope this helped to give you a little sneak peek in the wonderful world of writer's workshop. Look for your child's writing to come home at the end of each unit!