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Teaching Children to Write from the Start

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I have worked for many years in developing teachers of writing: through my work with the Curriculum Study Commission, the National and Northern Virginia Writing Projects, and George Mason Universities Graduate Programs. This is an updated talk on working with preschool children on writing. Special thanks to Janina Lao Admana my daughter's preschool teacher who helped with this presentation.

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Teaching Children to Write from the Start

  1. 1. Teaching Childrento Write from the Start: Ability,Culture, Meaning and MechanicsMarch 2, 2013Dr. Paul RogersJanina Lao Admana
  2. 2. An Overview• An interactive conversation– You are the experts on the children at your school• Some background about writing and writingdevelopment• Talking about some practices or strategiesyou’re using in your classroom around writing
  3. 3. Activity
  4. 4. Why focus on writing?• Writing is a key element ofacademic success.• Writing is a powerful learningtoo that supports bothunderstanding andremembering.• Writing is a key ability for fullparticipation in the 21st century.
  5. 5. 2 out of 3 U.S. students failto meet grade level demandsin writing.
  6. 6. When does writingbegin?
  7. 7. • After children learn to read?• When they begin to write wordsconventionally?
  8. 8. A Different Perspective• Literacy development begins long beforeformal schooling• Children learn about reading and writingsimultaneously in their everydayexperiences
  9. 9. Learning to write is about cognitivedevelopment and socialparticipation
  10. 10. Children engage in writing toexplore the characteristics ofwriting materialsthe cognitive development
  11. 11. Children write to engagein positive interactionswith adults and to formrelationships with peersthe social participation
  12. 12. What motivates children to learnto walk and talk? To learnanything?
  13. 13. By what mechanismsdo children learn towalk and talk? Dochildren learnanything?
  14. 14. Focus on Engagement
  15. 15. Travel and Transportation
  16. 16. Signs at the airport
  17. 17. Traveling• Postcard writing (picture)
  18. 18. The Basic Skills• Spelling and punctuation• Thinking, memory, and languagea(speaking), plus fine motor skills
  19. 19. Children’s handwriting developssequentially “through stages ofdrawing, scribbling, the making ofletterlike forms, moving to well-learned units, invented spelling,and conventional orthography”(Boscolo, 2008)
  20. 20. Scribbling
  21. 21. Drawing
  22. 22. RandomLetters
  23. 23. Inventedspelling
  24. 24. ConventionalSpelling
  25. 25. Writing before schooling can best bedescribed as exploration …But … there’s more
  26. 26. • What hypotheses do children developabout writing prior to entering school?(bringing down to earth)
  27. 27. Identify the background knowledgethat all children possess … learningrevolves around the child’s mindnot the teachers.
  28. 28. Not convention but intention
  29. 29. In schoolchildren learn what they are taught.So focus on the multiple purposes forwriting like …
  30. 30. Authentic Purposes (Brainstrom)
  31. 31. Authentic Purposes• Telling what I’ve learned (reports)• Describing an experience (travel writing)• Keeping notes (journaling)• Comparing ideas (reviews)• Conducting research (creating knowledge)• Analyzing problems (making the world a betterplace)• Sharing happiness and wisdom (fictionalnarratives)• Introducing an important person (profiles)
  32. 32. Create anenvironment forwriting
  33. 33. Examples of writing centers
  34. 34. Ideas for your writing center• clipboards• alphabet stamps• sandpaper/felt letters• stencils• chalkboards• dry erase cards• name cards• variety of writing utensils(pencils, crayons, pens,markers, chalk)• paper• tape, stapler, paper clips,hole puncher (forbookmaking)• notebooks/journals
  35. 35. Portfolios• Picture of Penguin binders and examples ofwork inside
  36. 36. Portfolios• Excellent way to document each individualchild’s progress• Informal assessment tool• Showcase child’s work giving value, creatingpermanence• Can be used together alongside progressreports during parent-teacher conferences• Home-school connection
  37. 37. Integrating writing with art
  38. 38. Linking reading and writing
  39. 39. What happened in “Click ClackMoo Cows That Type”?
  40. 40. • Sand• Salt or sugar trays (oron the light table)• Playdough• Fingerpaint• Write letters inchalk, erase using apaintbrush/cottonswab/finger• Ziploc bags:pudding, hairgel, paint• Goop• Colored snow• Shaving creamWays to write
  41. 41. Do-It-Yourself Letter Tracing Cards
  42. 42. Strategies• Write every day• Revisit and reread• Share the writing as a group• Letter tracing• Name writing
  43. 43. Name Writing• A window into children’s emergent writing• The child’s name is often the first word theybegin to write• The child first learns to recognize letters intheir name, especially the first letter (ownname advantage)
  44. 44. Name writing tends to progress inthe following manner:• (a) scribble; (b) linear scribble; (c) separatesymbols, with letter-like forms; (d) namewritten with correct letters andmockletters/symbols; (e) name generallycorrect, with some letters reversed oromitted; and (f ) name written correctly
  45. 45. Use Name Writing with Self-PortraitsLook for lots of little transitions
  46. 46. Strategies• Focus on what’s RIGHT!• It is the act of writing that needsencouragement• Write with your students
  47. 47. Strategies• Extrinsic rewards??• Using mentor texts– Supplied by both teacher and child• Share what You write• Celebrate writing• Writing floats on a sea of talk
  48. 48. Evaluation• Respond to completion• Respond to pride of authorship• Encourage students to try out ideas
  49. 49. Freedom of Choice• Varying the amounts and types of input– Experiment– Let’s spend the next few minutes writing anythingwe want
  50. 50. What are the most importantelements of of written languagethat children need to learn?
  51. 51. Conventions or mechanics
  52. 52. Conventions and mechanics
  53. 53. Thank you for your attention

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