Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Writing in Kindergarten


In one of the kindergarten classrooms I’ve been working in, we’ve been learning:
Writers share their opinions.
This has been a unit of study inspired by the Common Core State Standards, which place a heavy emphasis on opinion writing. What does that look like in kindergarten, I wondered. So I’ve been trying out a few teaching points, then observing what five and six year olds can do.
I wasn’t sure if it was even appropriate to ask our youngest writers to share their opinions with words and pictures. After the first lesson, I knew even more scaffolding would have to be put in place. We worked with students to understand what an opinion was. We provided ideas for topics. And we watched.
They began to move from story to facts to opinions. Then they moved from mimicing our opinions, to one another’s opinions, to their own opinions. Today I taught:
Writers support their opinions with reasons.
Mentor Text by Hunter used during the minilesson. This is his fourth page, supporting his opinion that "Fishing is fun." (I like to bait my hook with a worm and a minnow and that is not all, you can bait a lure!)
I wondered if I needed my head examined for giving this lesson in kindergarten. I consoled myself, remembering some of the writers had already moved to offering support for their opinions. I used student writing as a mentor. We practiced writing in the air with partners in the meeting area. Then off they went to write.
I was amazed. (I don’t use that word lightly.) Their work is remarkable. Almost everyone was sharing an opinion with their pictures and words. Many had moved to support their opinions. The topics were their choice, not driven by a prompt. It was things they cared about; things that mattered to them. I collected a handful from students who said they were finished today. (I’m dreaming up a digital celebration to share at the end of this unit.) So I scanned some of them. I’m just so excited about this work, I have to share it with you.
Here are some opinions, shared in pictures and words, from some of our youngest writers.
I like to put the boat in the water because it is fun!
I think the goodest food is bread sticks because you can dip them.
I think that tigers are the best animal because they jump high and they run fast.
I like to write because you can make words. Also you can be done.
Me and my dad think camping is the best because you can make marshmallows, and you can make smores, and you can make a camp fire

with love

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