Sunday, February 20, 2011

Writer's Workshop: Small Moments - Personal Narrative Writing

The writer's workshop is an integral part of a literacy program and often takes the form of a 3-part lesson where we delve into a mini-lesson with a focus, have students do some writing, and then come back together to have some students share their writing.

Jennifer has been very intentional during her writer's workshop as she wants her Kindergarten students to feel and know that they are authors and writers.  Using Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Primary Writing, she has inspired her students to write about what they know and to see that their drawings connect to writing.  Her class draw pictures and add letters/words to their work to recount a memory or share an experience.  In addition to the explicit teaching during writer's workshop, Jennifer has integrated opportunities for her students to write in other areas of her program, like in the drama centre (e.g.: writing lists at the grocery store, menus in a restaurant...) and in the writing centre, during guided reading.
This lesson is one from the second book, Small Moments: Personal Narrative Writing, and Jen is revisiting a lesson to have students think about a small moment connected to the wintertime.  

Part 1: Mini-lesson
Jennifer is sharing her small moment narrative, thinking aloud as she writes to show students what they need to do as they write.  Students help her with her ideas and together they stretch out the words to help with spelling.  She leaves it open as to where her students begin, with a picture or the words, but she begins with the words as she has extensively modeled beginning with a picture earlier in the year.  

Part 2: Independent Writing
Students receive the writing paper they need to write about their small moment story relating to the wintertime.  Some students begin with their picture while others delve into writing the words, stretching out their words and using inventive spelling.  Jennifer, along with her ECE, Angela, walk around to talk with children and offer their assistance if needed.  Materials are readily available for them to use and students are free to share their experiences on paper.

Part 3: Sharing Our Writing
After about 15-20 minutes of writing, students then come back to the carpet to put their writing in their writing folders and a few friends share what they have written.  In the writing folder, Jennifer has added a green dot on one side, and a red dot for the other.  Students that need more time to add to their writing or picture put their work in the green side, and if they are finished, then it goes into the pocket with the red dot.

Writing Supports
Throughout Jennifer's class are samples of writing from her mini-lessons.  These anchor charts are wonderful examples that her students can refer to when writing themselves.  In addition to these charts, Jennifer has a rich and friendly environment for students to strengthen their skills as authors and writers.  She displays their writing, creating a sense of pride for what they have written, and has a writing centre right by her word wall that is filled with the materials needed such as stamps, writing paper, markers/crayons/pencils, word cards and dictionaries.


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