Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to Begin Building Independence in the Youngest Writers

Writers are being born in my classroom. It is so exciting to watch the layers of a new writer strengthen and tighten into a little crafter of words. I think one of the biggest challenges when teaching the youngest writer is knowing when to teach him to get his words down and how to do it! There is an impression that little one's can't write or that it isn't appropriate. However, there isn't just one formula to this magic; you have to know your crafter's talents. These talents are his strengths, things he can do when no one else is around. To find this out you have to monitor the work. When he talks is it organized, is there a main idea or is it disjointed phrases and a lot of little pieces of many stories? Are his pictures detailed and recognizable or does he have to point out where the people and objects that form his story have taken shape? I could write a whole post on monitoring so let me get back to the birthing of words.
Here is a rather "direct" set of directions that will get you and if you are lucky your teaching aid or volunteer heading in the right direction to create independence in your young writers. I give this set of directions to anyone who enters into my writers workshop time because children know adults usually cave to their demand of "can you do this for me?"

Writers Workshop Instructions

In a later post I will share a detailed description of a continuum that I created to help guide and focus my teaching. It is based on my monitoring of student work coupled with the different teaching stages of the process for young writers.

My learning has come from having great colleagues who dialogue with me, wonderful resources like Assessing and Teaching Beginning Writers  Every Picture Tells a Story, by David M. Matteson and Deborah K. Freeman, work from Katie Wood Ray like About the Authors, of course the book Talking Drawing Writing by Mary Ellen Giacobbe and Martha Horn (these people are my rock stars) and finding myself on blogs like Two Writing Teachers and other greats on the blogosphere.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Amen sista! This is the topic that is on my mind lately. I have such a range of writers...from those who are unable to draw a recognizable picture to those who can draw a picture and may try to write a few letters/sounds to those who are able to draw a picture with some important details included and write at least the beginning sounds of each word in the story if not more. Sigh. It's a big job but such a special job! And as for Giacobbe and Horn...they are indeed rock stars!