Friday, August 17, 2012

Launching Writers' Workshop with Growing Kindergarten Writers

Children’s stories form the heart
and soul of our work.       
 Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe’s (2007). Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers.

We believe that when children first come to school, they have already started learning to write.    All of them have started learning, no matter their background experiences, because all of them come to us knowing something about written language, even if it’s just that is exists.  Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleveland (2004), About the Authors

From the time children are babies, they are composing.  Children begin to live a writerly life in their very first attempts to communicate.  As they write on walls with fat crayons or a stray marker, as they create a grocery lists alongside their parents, as they build castle towers with blocks and tell the story of the resident prince, they are writing.  They may not yet call themselves writers but they are innately engaging in the act of writing.  As children join our Kindergarten communities, we can build upon their early writing work.  

An important intention to bring to our early work with kindergarten writers is believing and conveying to them that they are writers - that they have stories to tell and record, that what they think they can write down for themselves and for others to read and enjoy.  Demonstrating our unflagging faith in our students as growing writers and creating our classroom writing environment as a supportive and resourceful community are chief ways we set students up for early success as writers.

The first few weeks of school are a sacred time of building relationship and, in large part, helping kindergartners learn how to be students.  Feeling comfortable and confident are paramount considerations for kindergartners.  Living in a community, following a school schedule, and adjusting to being away from home (more) are just a few of the challenges kindergarten students may grapple with during their first days or week of their kindergarten year.  Much of your energy will be devoted to getting to know your students – as growing writers, as curious readers, as in school and out of school learners.  And a great of your time will be spent helping your students learn the rituals and routines of your Writers’ Workshop.  For these reasons, it is important to be gentle with yourself and pace the following suggestions in ways we make sense to you in response to what you learn about your students. 

In the weeks before you begin this first unit of study, draw from your own writing well.  Think about what you do as a writer.  Why do you write?  When do you write?  Begin to record your insights.  What you write down will give you brilliant ways to model, name, and explain writing for and with your students.

When I use the word “writing” here, please know that I use this word to reflect students’ thinking on paper whether they are drawing, approximating letters, or writing in ways which look a lot like conventional text.  I will make some distinctions between drawing and writing but, for the most part, the word writing will be utilized in the fullest definition here. 

Preparation for Launching Writers’ Workshop Unit of Study

 Getting Ready for Your Launching Writers’ Workshop Study:
 Organize classroom environment to support collaborations, conferring, whole group/community learning, independent writing, student choice of writing supplies, etc. (e.g., group desks in small clusters; leave room to make one-on-one conferring possible; offer a variety of settings and resources for independently writing – computers, lap boards for writing while sitting on the floor, quiet corners when writers need to concentrate in deep ways, etc.).  Specific tasks and considerations are profiled in the attached notes about creating environments for an engaging and productive Writers’ Workshop. 

Analyze student data (from your beginning of the year formative assessments and student portfolios) with this question in mind: Based on your school/district writing continuum and my well of formative assessments, what are my students’ strengths? In what areas do they need more instruction and support?

With your team, study the profiled unit lessons in your curriculum/curriculum guides to consider which lessons will benefit all your students, some of your students, or one of your students

Gather exemplars and mentor texts for your students (Suggested titles are included below to support your time and work.) to illustrate proficient writing and illustrate the big ideas for this unit/each lesson.
Make baskets of mentor texts for students’ close study of unit “Big Ideas/ Understandings” – a writer’s life, topic generation, small moments, etc.

Post exemplars along with writing rubrics/scoring guides.

Include student-authored pieces and child-authors as mentors and exemplars whenever possible. 

Include familiar texts to revisit as mentors so that students can easily see the focus craft/genre/concept for this unit of study. 

Select texts for read alouds to marinate students in unit concepts and skills (which may need to begin days or weeks before the beginning of this unit of study). 

·        Gather together and plan for sharing your own writing (Authentic pieces such as cards, e-mails, and professional texts count!).

·        Determine daily writing materials and organize for student independence.

·        Make a writing folder for each students’ “writing in progress” pieces (Many teacher prefer pocket folders).

·        Develop a way and save a space to archive student writing over time in portfolios.

·        Support Resources and Supplemental Materials - In addition to the resources profiled above, it can be very helpful (or absolutely essential) to have the following materials:

o   Correction tape for interactive writing

o   Chart paper

o   Chart markers 

o   Date stamp with stamp pad

o   Staple remover (magnetic staple remover)

o   Stapler (a soft touch stapler is easier for kindergarten kids to use)

o   Milk crates (to put hanging files for student work or archive student work over time)

o   Trays in which to put different types of “bare” books (make books that are both portrait and landscape, lined and unlined)

o   Illustrating tubs filled with colored pencils and markers

o   Unit of Study folders for the teacher to insert lesson plans and ideas for the particular unit

To Support Growing Kindergarten Writers Early Studies

 Launching Writers' Workshop Unit of Study: Where writers get ideas:
  • Student writers in chapters1, 3, and 6 (or any chapter) In Pictures and Woods:  Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study by Katie Wood Ray
  • A Boy, A Dog, A Frog, And a Friend by Mercer Mayer
  • All The Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
  • Big Mama’s by Donald Crews
  • Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins
  • Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James
  • Flying (nonfiction) by Donald Crews
  • How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods (nonfiction) by Saxton Freymann
  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
  • “Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate by Bob Graham
  • Listening Walk by Paul Showers
  • Mama: A True Story (nonfiction) by Jeanette Winter
  • Mine’s The Best by Crosby Bonsall
  • My Little Island by Frane Lessac
  • Mud by Mary Lyn Ray
  • Once Upon a Banana by Jennifer Armstrong
  • Pancakes For Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
  • Patches Lost and Found by Steven Kroll
  • The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
  • School Bus (nonfiction) by Donald Crews
  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz
  • The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller
  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner
  • Tulip Sees America by Cynthia Rylant
  • Uptown by Bryan Collier
  • What Do Authors Do? by Eileen Christelow

Labeling Text Set (picture books):

·        Cassie’s Word Quilt by Faith Ringgold

·        Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

·        Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

·        Of Colors and Things by Tana Hoban

·        Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry

·        School Bus by Donald Crews

Potential Author Studies and Authors We Want Kindergarteners to Know as Writers and Readers (throughout the year):

·        Janet Ahlberg

·        Martha Alexander

·        Mitsumasa Anno

·        Frank Asch

·        Molly Bang

·        Bryon Barton

·        John Birmingham

·        Suzanne Bloom

·        Anthony Brown

·        Norman Bridwell

·        Marc Brown

·        Margaret Wise Brown

·        Eric Carle

·        Nancy White Carlstrom

·        Judith Caseley

·        Eileen Christelow

·        Elisha Cooper

·        Lucy Cousins

·        Joy Cowley

·        Donald Crews

·        Tomie de Paola

·        Lois Ehlert

·        Amy Ehrlich

·        Mem Fox

·        Marla Frazee

·        Gail Gibbons

·        Heidi Goennel

·        Diane Goode

·        Emily  Gravett

·        Eric Hill

·        Lillian Hoban

·        Russell Hoban

·        Tana Hoban

·        Mary Ann Hoberman

·        Sid Hoff

·        Shirley Hughes

·        Pat Hutchins

·        Rachel Isodora

·        Steve Jenkins

·        Ann Jonas

·        Ezra Jack Keats

·        Holly Keller

·        Leah Komaiko

·        Robert Kraus

·        Leo Lionni

·        Anita Lobel

·        Arnold Lobel

·        Jonathan London

·        James Marshall

·        Bill Martin

·        Mercer Mayer

·        Nikki McClure

·        Emily Arnold McCully

·        Susan Meddaugh

·        Elise Minarik

·        Bernard Most

·        Robert Munsch

·        Laura Numeroff

·        Jan Ormerod

·        Helen Oxenbury

·        Peggy Parish

·        Dav Pilkey

·        Patricia Polacco

·        Charlotte Pomerantz

·        Peter Reynolds

·        Anne Rockwell

·        Marisabina Russo

·        Cynthia Rylant

·        Maurice Sendak

·        Gail Saunders Smith:  Ms. Smith is a kindergarten teacher and her nonfiction texts honor and further students’ curiosity about the world.  Her books also offer student keen insights about text structure and/or how to teach others by writing expert pieces (such as “How to take care of a puppy” or “Skateboarding” or “Being a big sister/brother”). 

·        William Steig

·        David Ezra Stein

·        Lauren Stringer

·        Dr. Suess

·        Nancy Tafuri

·        Jeanne Titherington

·        Judith Viorst

·        Bernard Waber

·        Rosemary Wells

·        Brian Wildsmith

·        Vera B. Williams

·        Mo Williems

·        Audrey and Don Wood

·        Charlotte Zolotow

Supportive Internet Resources:
Boy Reader - Me, a writer?

Carol Wilcox (A remarkable writer and passionate reader, Carol shares her recent “best reads” in this delightful blog.  Wonderful source for mentor text ideas.)

Choice Literacy

Columbia University Teachers College 

Guys Read

Father Goose (source for delightful read alouds)

Hubbard’s Cupboard (web resources created by Kindergarten teachers)

International Reading Association

Kids Read

Mark Overmeyer

Mary Ehrenworth,  Teachers College (especially helpful for parent education)

National Council of Teachers of English/NCTE

National Writing Project

Planet Esme

Ralph Fletcher - mentor text podcast

Read Write Think    

Reading Rockets

Ruth Ayers

Six Traits                

Six Traits and standards connections as well as anchor paper links and rubric banks:  [The referenced standards are the U.S. Common Core State Standards/CCSS but the parallels could be helpful in making connections to the Ontario ELA Standards.]

Two Writing Teachers    

Write Brained Teacher

Writing Fix

Professional Resources:
  • Anderson, Carl.  (2005). Assessing Writers.  Heinemann.
o   Chapter Two – Getting Started:  Developing an assessment lens; Chapter Three – Assessing Students as Initiators of Writing; Appendix 1; Appendix 4.

·        Anderson, Carl.  (2000).  How’s It Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers.  Heinemann.

o   If you are new to conferring, this will be an invaluable book to read and study over the summer.  Reading this book with Carl’s DVD collection in Strategic Writing Conferences offers you excellent modeling of edifying conferences.

o   If you have studied with Carl/feel confident about your conferring rituals, make sure to revisit Chapters One – Conferences are Conversations, Two – The Teacher’s Role in the Conference, and Five – Laying the Groundwork for Conferences.

o   If you have concerns or questions about classroom management, study Chapter 7 – What Are All the Other Students Doing?

·        Anderson, Carl.  (2009).  Strategic Writing Conferences: Smart Conversations That Move Young Writers Forward (text and      

            DVD’s). Heinemann. 

·        Bennett-Armistead, Susan, Duke, Nell, and Moses, Annie.  (2005).  Literacy and the Youngest Learner. 

o   Chapters 8 and 11.

·        Bhattacharyya, Ranu.  (2010).  The Castle in the Classroom.

o   Author is a brilliant kindergarten teacher.

·        Calkins, Lucy.  (1994).  The Art of Teaching Writing.

o   Chapters 6 and 7.

·        Calkins, Lucy.  (2005).  Big Lessons for Small Writers, Grades K – 2 (DVD).  Heinemann.

·        Calkins, Lucy.  (2003).  The Nuts and Bolts of Teaching Writing.

·        Calkins, Lucy and Mermelstein, Leah.  (2003).  Launching the Writing Workshop (from Units of Study for Primary Writing: Grades K-2). Heinemann.

·        Cole, Ardith Davis. (2004).   Where Reading Begins:  The Teacher’s Role in Decoding, Comprehension, and Fluency.

o   Pages 36-37 “One-on-one scaffolding during writing.”

·        Corgill, Ann Marie.  (2008).  Of Primary Importance:  What’s Essential in Teaching Young Writers.

o   Chapters 2 and 5 (The entire book would be an excellent book to read over the summer and/or for a professional book study.).

·        Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi, JoAnn.  (2007).  Craft Lessons.  Teaching Writing K – 8.  Stenhouse.

·        Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi, JoAnn.  (2001).  Writing Workshop:  The Essential Guide.  Stenhouse.

·        Heard, Georgia and McDonough, Jen.  A Place for Wonder:  Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades.  Heinemann.

·        Freeman, Marcia.  (2003).  Teaching the Youngest Writers. 

o   Chapter 2 and 3.

·        Glover, Matt.  (2009).  Engaging Young Writers: Preschool-Grade One.  Heinemann. 

·        Harwayne, Shelley. (2000).  Lifetime Guarantees:  Toward Ambitious Literacy Teaching.  Heinemann.

o   Chapter One - Designing the Literacy Landscape; Chapter Two – Reflecting on the Teaching of Writing; Page 61/60-67 (daily schedule and supportive schoolwide structures); A-6 (author studies).

·        Harwayne, Shelley.  (2001).  Writing through Childhood.  Heinemann. 

o   Chapter Two – Designing Writing Workshops with Children in Mind; Chapter Six - Working with Our Youngest Writers.

·        Hill, Bonnie Campbell and Ekey, Carrie. (2010).  The Next Step Guide To Enhancing Writing Instruction:  Rubrics and Resources for Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting.  Heinemann.

o   Chapters 1 and 5 and Appendix A, B, C, D, and E. 

·        Hill, Bonnie Campbell and Ekey, Carrie.  (2010).  The Next Step Guide to Enriching Classroom Environments.  Heinemann.

o   Superb, practical resource as you develop your setting for literacy learning including edifying self-evaluation tools.

·        Hill, Bonnie Campbell.  Supporting Your Child’s Literacy Learning:  A Guide for Parents.  Heinemann.

o   Excellent text to share with parents. 

·        Horn, Martha and Giacobbe, Mary Ellen.  (2007).  Drawing, Talking, and Writing:  Lessons for Our Youngest Writers. 


o   Chapters 1-3.

·        Laminack, Lester and Wadsworth, Reba.  (2006). Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature. Heinemann.

·        Laminack, Lester and Wadsworth, Reba. (2006). Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum. Heinemann.

·        Lane, Barry.  (2008).  But How Do You Teach Writing?  Scholastic. 

·        Ray, Katie Wood.  (2008).  Already Ready:  Nurturing Writing in Preschool and Kindergarten.  Heinemann.

o   Introduction and pages 3 – 53 and 125 – 145 (Also, the entire book would be helpful summer reading in planning for all units of study.). 

·        Ray, Katie Wood.  (2010).  In Pictures and Words:  Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study.  Heinemann. 

o   Chapters 1, 3, and 6, especially. 

·        Ray, Katie Wood.  (2006). Study Driven A Framework of Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop. Heinemann, 2006.

o   Pages 38-46 (vision for writing, counting books, travel guide writing), 90 (the role of approximation), and 151 (important considerations for kindergarten teachers and writers).

·        Ray, Katie Wood.  (2005). The Teaching Behind About the Authors (DVD). Heinemann.

·        Ray, Katie Wood and Cleaveland, Lisa.  (2004).  About the Authors.  Heinemann. 

o   The entire text thoughtfully profiles how to apprentice kindergarten through second grade writers.

o   Chapter 4, How Our Youngest Writers Use the Writing Process to Help Them Make Books, is included as a unit resource for you.

·        Routman, Regie.  (2000).  Conversations.

o   Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9. 

·        Routman, Regie (2004). Writing Essentials. Heinemann.

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