Here are five more answers to your questions:
1. Sami, from Worthington, Minnesota asked -How do I differentiate my teaching for students writing abilities?
For any lesson, meet with students in small homogeneous groups that match their ability levels.
|Meeting with a small group of 4-5 students.|
While all of the students illustrate, I meet with individual students to assist them with writing.
2. Kristen, from Rogersville, Alabama asked -It's a challenge to ask them to explain their thinking in writing, what is the best way to teach this thinking?
We began by asking students, “How did you feel about that?” while they were writing. At first, they just had to circle one of 3 faces; a happy face, a neutral face, and a sad face. So if they wrote, “I like to go to Disneyland,” they might circle the happy face. Later, we asked, “How did you feel about that?” and we did not have any faces to circle. Students had to draw a picture of how they felt. They might draw a picture of themselves doing a happy dance, or crying, etc. We also used a template with a triangle for the topic, 3 pillars for the details, and a heart for how they felt about it. They illustrated and labeled their illustrations and used this graphic organizer to help them compose a paragraph. In K, we took a week to do this. On day 1, we each illustrated and labeled our graphic organizers in a small group setting to answer a prompt such as, “What do you like to do with your family?”. On day 2, we each composed a topic sentence in a small group setting and one detail sentence . On day 3 we composed 2 more detail sentences. On day 4 we composed a feeling/thinking sentence. On Day 5 we shared our paragraph with our small group. (Less intimidating than sharing in a whole group setting.)
|Students illustrate inside the shapes.|
3. Christy, from Vallejo, California asked -What expectations should I have for writers in Transitional Kindergarten?
I taught TK for 3 years and my expectations were that they could verbally express a complete sentence and attempt to write one with at least the first letter of each word. I modeled writing by taking their dictated sentence and writing if for them with a wide-tipped highlighter and asking them to trace over the words. For students who already understood that print goes from left to right and that words are made from letters grouped together with spaces between the words, I would write the first letter of each word for them and help them to sound/blend the remaining letters. I had about 20 sight words available for them to copy (like the words “like, the, a, my, see, etc.). They didn’t have to write a complete sentence until the end of K, so if they could express it verbally and attempt to write it, that was a considered a great foundation.
I have always used a variety of programs for all curricular areas. For writing, I used my own Instant Writing, Month-to-Month Writing, and Journals with Rubrics. (Click on any of the last 3 titles to see the full sets.
We also practiced re-telling stories so we were better at composing a complete sentence prior to writing one. And, I also researched “Writers Workshop” and have used that technique in my classroom. I present on both Writers Workshop and Re-telling & Developing Oral Language at conferences throughout the USA and Canada. You can find conferences that I’m presenting at at sde.com or email me. I will be presenting for two days at “I Teach K” in Las Vegas this July.
5. Patti, from Sycamore, Illinois asked -How do organize/manage your writing time so that students keep working and so that you can see all your students' writing?
In a small group setting, I work with about 5 students at a time. While they are all illustrating to respond to the writing prompt, I work with one child at a time to compose a sentence or two.
In a whole group setting, students bring their writing up to me and I quickly assess and have them correct or add to their writing while trying to keep the line down to 3 students or less. As students finish, I have them check what the other students are writing for simple things like whether or not they are using a capital letter on the 1st word, a period at the end, or leaving spaces between their words. They get to use a special pointer as they check for these elements.
|These 3 pointers were at The Dollar Store; all 3 for $1.|
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1. *Instant Writing -Students create sentences with the help of 72 labeled picture cards and a chart of helping words.
2. *The Flag writing template -Students write and illustrate on this American flag template. You get two different size lines.
3. *When I Grow Up template -Students write about what they want to be when they grow up. You get two templates which allow for differentiating. Add a photo of them dressed up as if they are working at their future career and it will make a great bulletin board.
4. *Shape Writing - Templates for cover pages and writing about each of the four 2D shapes (circle, square, triangle, & rectangle).
5. *Daily Journal Diaries -A cover page and a journal template for each month Aug-June where the students or the teacher can record each day's activities.
6. *Journals with rubrics -Four seasonal and one generic journal template with built-in rubrics.
7. *My Sensational Adventure -Five writing templates all about the five senses. This makes a great take-home book written by each of your students.
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