Friday, November 30, 2012

Writer's Workshop-Updates!

It has been too long since I have talked about writing...  Here's what shakin' in my room!

We spread out and we get busy!  This is serious work and we take it seriously!

We share with our partners EVERY Day!  Don't skip partner sharing... it is so important!   

Our materials are kid friendly.  All of the paper options are available to the writers.  They have a choice on whether to write a book, a single page, or a how-to piece.  The books are made ahead of time, with single pages for those longer pieces.  The students know how to remove the staples to add pages.  (I still control the stapler and I staple at the end of the writing time). 

By the way, this is the best staple remover.  It is super kid friendly and it does not rip the pages.  I got it at a teacher store, but I think I found the same one on Amazon.  Click here to see it.

 We have been reading books with beautiful language.  We read In November and Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant... LOVE! IT!   Miss C wrote in the footsteps of Cynthia Rylant.

Here is Mr. E's take on making gold.  I tried to tell him that he could give me some of the gold he made...  We will see if that happens.

This one made me say "Wow"...AND I got a tear in my eye (totally true).  With the holiday,  I think he work on this for a total of 5 school days.

How is writing going in your classroom?  If you are using our units, I would love to hear how it is going.  

UPDATE:  Here are a few people who would love to share their student writing!  So Fun!   Will you let them know I sent you?

Clearly Kindergarten

Life is Sweet in Kindergarten


  1. Oh Deedee, what a joy it is to see real kid writing. None of that copying of words from the board. None of that perfect spelling. But instead real kid writing. Written with joy and with so much hard work. Hurrah for your kiddos and hurrah for you for being such a kid-focused teacher. You are an inspiration!!!!!!!
    An open Door

    1. Thank you Camille! We sure love to write in my classroom!

  2. Thanks for the update! Love seeing what's happening with writing in your class :-)

    Can I ask you a couple of questions about writing?

    (Background info: I'm from New South Wales, Australia, it's my second year out of uni and have been teaching Kinder in an independent (Anglican) school since graduation. I love it and will be doing it again next year!)

    The idea of Writers Workshop is not that common in Australia, but this year lots of blogs and books have inspired me to give it a try. So in Term 3 I did it just with my class, and by Term 4 our other Kinder teachers wanted to do it too. It's been so good and we are planning to run it all year in 2013. My kids love it (although they did struggle a bit early on!) and are writing really well, although a lot of them are ESL students or have poor language skills.

    However - I think the philosophy of WW is quite different to what is common in NSW schools. For example, I've been instructed to immediately correct students' invented spelling rather than accept and praise their best attempts. Most Kinder teachers also start the year with students only copying sentences, rather than writing by themselves from the start, which I would prefer.

    So, my questions - What is your basic philosophy of teaching writing? What do you aim for students to know and do by the end of the year? How do your support kids to get there eventually? Do all kids finish the year able to write independently? And, on a slightly different note, what does your room look/sound like when the kids are on task in WW? Is it completely silent? Or do you allow quiet talking?

    Thanks for reading a long comment! I'm sure I have other questions floating around my head too, but if you could give me any pointers on these ones, I'd be so grateful! Hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas.


    1. Hi Hannah, You question is huge! My philosophy on writing is that children learn to write by writing. It is the same as when they learned to talk. We did not ask them to be silent while they babbled their first words. We were thrilled when they said "Dada" for daddy. We don't say, "No honey, we say Daddy." We accepted their approximations in speech, just like we should accept their approximations in writing.

      The work of teaching writing is knowing how to continually nudge them in the direction of writing proficiency. I support them by providing good examples of what proficiency looks like through shared writing, guided writing, modeled writing, and read alouds. My individual conferences give them one thing to work on that are within their developmental zone. It is a lot like herding chickens. You see where they want to be and you herd them towards the pen. Some stray out towards the side, but through the conference, you bring them back in.

      My room is not silent, but it is not loud either. I don't mind a little chatter if it is a writing chatter not a rodeo. My kids are excited about writing, they lean on each other and can't wait to share their work with their peers. If they become too rowdy or loud, they are asked to return to their seats.

      I hope this helps... I could also suggest a few professional reads: Already Ready by Matt Glover and Katie Wood Ray, Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover, and In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray. These books address emergent writers (PreK-1st) and will help give you some of the research behind what we do. This might help you with those who insist on focusing only on writing mechanics.

      Good luck.

  3. Oh Deedee this just makes me smile! It is only Dec and look how your cuties are writing!!! Such creativity and they are quite able to express their thoughts down on paper. Very impressive.

    We teach first and our students come to us barely being able to write one sentence. "It's developmental" is what we hear from our kinder teachers. I so want to show them this post (but I won't :) One of our K teachers came and taught first one year and she still had them dictating their sentences to her halfway through the year! Yes, it is developmental but if they are never given the opportunity, or not nudged to even try, how will they ever know what they are capable of? They are missing out on writing fabulous stories like these! High Expectations=High Achievements. Thank you so much for sharing and I will come down off my soapbox now!

    Fluttering Through First Grade

    1. Christy, I am said to hear that. I think we underestimate the complexity of our little guys. They can do so much and they have so much to say.

      It is hard to bring systematic change to a building. Perhaps sharing my post might help. I would rather put a pencil in my eye than do dictated sentences. Where is the creativity in that? Ehhh... This is probably why I felt paralyzed towards writing when I was in school. I hated it! Then I wanted someone to tell me what it should say. In my opinion, we create a population of copy cats, not free thinking, creative children. We need to foster creativity and free thinking!

    2. Ok... clearly my Diet Coke has not kicked in yet... please pretend that my typos are not there!

  4. Love love love the last writing sample. I adore kindergarten!!!! It's the greatest thing when they amaze you with work like that (seemingly) out of the blue!

  5. Great post! I really need to do a better job with writing, gotta make the time!
    First Grade Blue SKies

  6. We haven't tackled a lot of writing just yet. However, after purchasing your unit, I am excited about writing with kindergarteners.

  7. Dee Dee, I can tell you focused a lot of time on an illustration study by how the students were crafting their illustrations. I love the idea of framing the writing pages that the students write on! I am starting a new writing Units of Study and I am going to steal that idea! I loved all the stories your students are working on! Happy Weekend! Melissa

  8. Thank you so much for your units! I am using them with my class this year (we are about half way through unit 2 and I bought unit 3 during the tpt sale). My kiddos are doing such a good job with writing this year! I feel like I finally have a systematic way to teach writing instead of just piecing things together and skipping it more often than not. I think I have talked some of my fellow kinder teachers into trying it too. I included a the link to my post (in my blog name below) about the writing my kiddos did using your unit in case you wanted to check it out. Thank you thank you for helping make me a better teacher and for helping me love to teach writing!

    Clearly Kindergarten

  9. Hi Deedee,
    This is my fifth year teaching kindergarten, and I have done writing workshop with my class every year. In the beginning I would wait until almost the end of the year to introduce writing, I felt like I needed to teach them most of the sounds before they started writing, but now I know that I was wrong. Some kids come in knowing almost all of their sounds already, and some don't even know the letter names. If I wait until everyone has their sounds, I am holding some of the students back developmentally. Now that we write early in the year it is obvious that everyone can do it, just at a different level.
    I have always struggled a bit with my writing workshop organization since we have no writing curriculum for kindergarten. I would try to organize it as best I could, but I always felt like I could be doing more. My class just finished your first writing unit and I absolutely LOVE it!!!! I can't even explain how much it takes the stress out of planning and organizing. Right from the start I can see that this is one of my students favorite subjects, and this was the first year that I have started writing workshop without any tears of frustration from any student about not being able to write. The program really eases them into it, and they LOVE it!
    Thank you so much for making the new common core writing standards so accessible!

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  11. I love seeing the way you use writer's workshop in your classroom, it's so inspirational! It also helps to translate the theories presented by Ray and Glover into practice. :)

    Fun in PreK-1


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