A Year of Writing - Revisited

I have been documenting my student's growth as writers using a monthly journal for years.  I originally wrote about it here.

Today I would like to share why I love this.
As teachers, we know the importance of keeping a record of our students' learning and growth.  In the past, I used to collect random samples of students' writing.  What I found was that sometimes I would have a lot on one student but very little on another.  Other times, I did not have a current sample of their writing to share at progress monitoring meetings. Bad, I know.

That all changed when I began making a monthly writing journal; what I call A Year of Kindergarten Writing.  What I found was that I had monthly samples collected all in one spot.  I could share these easily at Parent Conferences and with other teachers.  I could use these to document learning.  More importantly, at the end of the year, it served as a keepsake for families of their child's learning.

In preparation for the upcoming school year, I have revised and updated this document.  For a limited time, this is a freebie for my Facebook Fans.  Hop on over and grab your copy.

From my classroom to yours, 
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Research and Collaboration - Kindergarten Style

Our team has tried very hard to learn as much as we can about the Common Core. It has been a learning curve but also a great way for us to bond as a team.

So, when we decided to visit Sea World, we knew that we wanted our students to research the sea animals that they would see at the theme park.  That lead to us think, "Why not have the students research and present their findings to each class?"



Well....kind of.

First, we read about our sea animals and wrote about them in our Sea Animal Research Journals.  To guide our writing, we used Thinking Maps; mostly Tree and Circle Maps to help us.

Later, I assigned and worked with each group to create their presentation board.  In this case, I had my reading groups work together because they all had approximately the same needs.  This helped me to know how much guidance they would need.

Students and I enjoyed this extra time together.  Everyone worked together to cut, type, and prepare the presentation board.  They rehearsed their presentations during Independent Reading, with each other and to the class.

It was a lot of work.  But, well worth it!

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Common Core Standards Addressed:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.2 With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about     kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Mentor Texts to Teach Punctuation

As the end of the year nears for us, I am trying to make sure that my students are as prepared as possible for first grade.

One area which we continue to need to work on is punctuation.  I love to use the Piggie and Elephant series by Mo Willems. At this point of the year, many can read the books and understand how witty Mo Willems is as the author of these characters.

First, I read I am Going!.  I like to use this book because several of the same words or phrases appear throughout the book but change meaning due to the punctuation.  This helps to show how important punctuation is to meaning.

Afterwards, I created simple anchor charts to meet our standard; recognize and name the punctuation.

Students wrote their own Piggie and Elephant stories; trying to use each type of punctuation.  Here is a sample. Can you tell which Piggie and Elephant book it is modeled after?

                Gerald want to go play? Yes?                             Gerald. There's a bird in your head!                  Gerald. Now there's a nest.

We will continue to work on this skill for the next few weeks.  My hope is that children see how punctuation plays an important role in reading and writing as well as text meaning.

In the past, I've used these books as well.  I like them because they are easy enough to be read by beginning readers.

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