Learning to Compose and Write Messages Reading Recovery Spring 2012 Let’s take a “walk” through “writing!”
Teacher’s Role – Get the child to compose and write his own stories. Writing is about:*Composing*Building a known body of words*Shifting from simple sentences at first tomore complex sentences*Using a variety of ways to structuresentences and packing more interest intothe message
Composing a message is not a matter of copying words or stories…. I like to ride It’s about…… my bike in the yard!*Going from ideas in the head,*to spoken words,*to printed messages,*and finding out that you can reconstructthose messages.
Teacher’s job is to…*Choose which words the child will work on andwhich words she will contribute because shejudges that they are too challenging for thechild at a particular time.Student’s job is to…*Write all that he can independently.
The student’s composed message shouldbe his OWN and it should stem fromgenuine conversation between the childand the teacher.If we keep a note of the longest sentencewe have heard the child use, we can updateit when a longer one comes along. Lengthof utterance is a reliable indicator ofgrowth in early oral language skills.
During the course of a series of lessons, a child learns tobring together…*the ideas*the message (which must be his own)*the search for ways to record it*the monitoring of the message production*and the reading of what he has recorded.
However……to get there, the teacher has to work withwhat the child already knows in order to build on hisstrengths. What may seem to be a casualconversation between child and adult is actually anexample of a highly skilled adult moving a childthrough his zone of proximal development throughquestioning, telling, directing, demonstrating, praising,and confirming moves.Teachers make deliberate teaching decisions thatincrease accessibility to the task while supporting thechild’s performance.There is no relaxation of the challenges posed and theteacher is constantly moving to what can beconsidered as the outer limits of the zone of proximaldevelopment.
Break TimeWhat is a reliable indicator ofgrowth in early oral language skills?
Teachers can prompt the child to searchhis reading knowledge by linking back toprevious writing or to a text. The childmust understand that reading and writingcontributes to each other.
Writing Lesson*Use a practice page and an unlined message pageturned sideways.*Use bright felt pens to motivate writing.*Other opportunities for writing should includewhiteboards, blackboards, magnetic letters, etc.*Practice page has many uses such as: Elkoninboxes, giving words a “go,” practice words forfluency, teacher demonstration of words, etc. Itprovides a record of many teacher-childinteractions that occur.
The child must… compose the message and feel some ownership of it! Procedure for eliciting a story:*Have a thought of discussion before the lesson.*Have a short but genuine conversation with the student thatcaptures his attention and interest.*After the conversation, ask the child to formulate the message.*Do not alter the child’s sentence. If the child needs to work ongrammar issues, be sure to use correct use of language while inconversation with the child. In later lessons, the teacher maysuggest how a sentence might have some more ideas or be changed instructure BUT only if the child can manage the change. Ifnot……back off!
Continued… Procedures for eliciting a story…*The teacher should record the message and immediately beginthinking which words can provide teaching moments.*In early lessons, the teacher may have the child repeat themessage in order to have a clear memory of the sentence.*In later lessons, the child may be composing two or threesentences while writing faster and without much assistance.*Toward the end of the lessons, the practice page will begin tobe less filled as the child will be writing on the run.
Before writing…from time to time… invite the child to reread a previous writtenmessage.As the child writes…*The child will write what he can independently.*The teacher writes into the story what she judges to be to hard.*The teacher selects from the child’s composed message each daytwo or three words that offer challenge to the child for learninghow to hear and record sounds in words. This action will lessen asthe child learns to write on the run.*The teacher may also select high-frequency words in which to helpthe child remember such as “they” or “why.”*The teacher will ask the child the repeat the writing of a new wordon the working page again and again. This procedure could also bedone on the chalkboard, in the sand, on the whiteboard, etc.
Break TimeWhat will the child be doing when it isevident that the practice page is being used less?
Extend the child’s writing vocabulary…*Make the task easy for the child!!!*Ensure the child knows a lot about the letters in the words youselect for attention.*It’s a good idea not to teach words that look very similar closetogether in time.*Letters in words have to be written in the correct order.*Be aware of other words that can made from the word you select.*Keep in mind the complexity of the task for the child at all times.*The teacher needs to constantly seek out links to the child’s knownin order to build new knowledge.
Continued… Extend the child’s writing vocabulary…*The teacher’s interactions with thechild should change as lessons moveforward. In early lessons, theteacher’s contributions are high. Thechild should gradually take over theproblem-solving of new words. Elkoninboxes will be less used as lessonscontinue. The teacher’s role shifts tomonitoring the child’s performance andbegins to teach more by talkinginstead of demonstration. The goal isfor the child to learn to problem solvein order to “go it alone” back in theclassroom.
Ways of solving words for writing…*As the writing changes for the child, the teacher changes what she does.*Over time, the child accumulates a writing vocabulary. New words will beconstructed slowly.*One essential way to get to new words is by trying to hear the sounds inspoken words.*Invite the child to construct a new word based on a known word that healready knows.*No child should be expected to work out certain features within wordswithout support, such as inflectional endings, silent letters, doubleconsonants, dropping the “e,” hard to hear consonants in clusters, usingcommon vowel combinations, or spelling short words with unusual spellingssuch as “who” and “why.”*Always direct the child to what they know in reading to help them withwriting!!!!
Usually the gain is not that the child gets a particular word right but that he has strengthened the range of ways of solving new words he will use in the future. Helpful prompts:What could you try?How do you think it would start?What do you know that might help?Do you know another word that sounds like that?Do you know a word that starts like that?After success in word solving…..you can use theprompt:How did you know it was written like that?
Break TimeIn later lessons, the teacher’s role shifts to monitoring the child’s performance and begins to teach more by talking instead of ___________________.
Rereading the completed story…*At first the child may need to point word byword.*The teacher may need to help at first, buteventually the child will read the storyindependently, monitoring the reading againsthis inner knowledge of what he intended towrite.
When a child’s pronunciation is unhelpful…*Be cautious of dialect and unclear articulation.The teacher must use appropriate languagethroughout the lesson in order for the child tohear and observe the correct language.
To write known words faster…When a child shows that he knows a word…use these prompts:*Think carefully before you start and write it here. And here.*Look closely at it and check it.*Do it faster. Once more.Vary what you say as you prompt the child to repeat the production onthe whiteboard, chalkboard, finger on desktop, magnetic letters, etc.*Try it another time. Once more.*Check it carefully.*Write it faster…and even faster. Can you go faster?***The purpose is to have the child produce the word “out of hishead” in every aspect while being fluent.
Which words would the teacher select for the child to learn to write…Choose…*words that will be used often by this child*words needed often in writing*words the child almost knows that need a little more practice*words that capture things he knows but also take him intonew territory*words that occur often in the languageAfter a child has a useful knowledge of high-frequency wordsthen a word might be selected because of its spelling patternthat could lead the writer, by analogy, to similar words.***The teacher will keep a weekly record of each child’swriting vocabulary in order to link and to teach other wordsbased on the child’s known words.
Thoughtful Prompts:If you want the child to search his reading knowledge…use the followingprompts:*You can read a word that looks like that.*You can read a word that starts like that.*You can read a word that is like that.If you want the child to search his writing vocabulary…use the followingprompts:*Say the word aloud. Say it slowly. Is that like a word you know?*You can say another word like that.*Have you heard another word that starts that way?*Have you heard another word that sounds like that?
Errors in written stories…*Repeated errors strengthen brain connections and increase the chance thatthe neural network will use that route again. That is why it is crucial that theteacher intercept and to help the child to attend to detail of what he is doing.*The teacher may chose to type the message using large font and generousspacing.****In later lessons, the practice page will be used less; however the teacherwill not give up demonstrations when needed. The teacher could…*ask the child for the initial sound or cluster.*expect the child to construct the word in sequence from beginning to end*the teacher could tell the child about any hard bits before he makes a falsemove.*the teacher may still intervene and help with unusual words to remove thepossibility that the child might make a series of poor moves.
Break TimeThe following are indicators of what?*words that will be used often by this child*words needed often in writing*words the child almost knows that need a little morepractice*words that capture things he knows but also take himinto new territory*words that occur often in the language
Final thoughts…..on the “walk” through “writing!” The early intervention teacher must continually lift the performance level of the child in orderfor him/her to perform well back in the classroom independently. Our job includes encouraging the child to write more, with speed, fluency and accuracy. In turn…this will contribute to faster progress in literacy learning!
Clay, M. M. (2005). Literacy lessons: Designed for individuals, part two: Teaching procedures. NH: Heinemann