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September 01, 2008

Writer's Workshop

My last post focused on an important aspect of the Kindergarten curriculum known as Reader’s Workshop.  As one of the summer school teachers for our pre-kindergarten students, I am also spending two days of our week on Writer’s Workshop. 
On Tuesday and Thursday, our main focus is on writing.  Writer’s Workshop allows our students to learn basic skills and get practical experience with writing.  On Tuesday, my co-teacher gave a mini lesson on writing.  Our class discussed how and why we use a pencil when we write and how to use our writing folders.  Each student has a folder with a “stop” side and a “keep going” side.  When a student thinks they have done all the work they can on a story, it is kept on the “stop” side until the final editing and publishing days.  During their work time, about half of the students wanted to be finished after drawing one simple picture.  As we conference with each student, we helped them think about their favorite story or book.  Does that have just one picture or one thought?  Usually stories have a beginning, middle and an end.  Most of our students flourished!  Several were even using beginning sounds to try spelling words for their stories.  I was thrilled!
On Thursday, I led a mini lesson that asked the important question: Why do writers write?  Again, we put together a very nice list. 
Writer write…
            Because they have something to say
            Because they read things
            Because they want to
            Because they are illustrators and writers
            Because they want to teach someone something
            Because it is fun
            Because they are funny
As a pre-kindergarten teacher it is always a mix of emotions when Kindergarten rolls around.  I will miss the students – each of their idiosyncrasies has a specific spot in my heart.  However, it is great to be able to say with confidence that they are ready.   Those students who have had the opportunity to experience early childhood education have a solid foundation.  Not only are they able to sound out words because they know letters and letter sounds, but they have learned HOW to do school.  They have practiced learning in large groups.  They have tested their endurance and perseverance and have prevailed.  Most importantly, they have developed positive relationships with adults and peers and have sparked an excitement for learning.  What could be better than that?


Karissa: I love your posts about Reading & Writing workshop. Your summer school program sounds exceptional. Your students are very lucky to have such a comprehensive program and a wonderful teacher.
I wanted to point out that Reading and Writing Workshop aren't just for kinder and up anymore. Our district follows the Reading and Rriting Workshop approach in every grade, pre-k and up. Every pre-k classroom in our district has age appropriate, Reading and Writing Workshop times daily. Our students are not only capable, they are exceeding even our wildest expectations with this new curriculum. Recently, I heard a story about one of my former students on his first day in kindergarten. The teacher read a book aloud to the class, when she was finished this student raised his hand and said, "You forgot to tell us that that was a FICTION story!"


Thanks Vanessa! I have been in contact with the Reader and Writer's Workshop consultant for our district. We are hoping to establish a similar system in our school as well! Hope you are enjoying your start to the school year!

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