Thursday, May 3, 2012

Breaking through WRITERS BLOCK

Hello! I’m Mrs. M from The Daily Cupcake and I’m so happy to be the guest blogger today! I want to thank Jeannie for having me here today...what a great opportunity to reach new readers! I’ve loved reading all of the posts by recent guest bloggers and getting to learn about some new blogs. So, now that it’s my turn I’ve had a bit of…uhum…WRITER’S BLOCK!  

Ugh!  I’ve had no problems posting on my own blog but I wanted this post to be special, helpful and “my very best work.”  This is a phrase I use often in my classroom!  Well this little “problem” of writer’s block got me to thinking about my kinders and their own experiences with this.  Usually this will translate to lackluster writing or worse yet….no writing at all! So, how do I personally handle this in my room? I guess I’ve never really thought about it before, but I actually do have a “system” in place to help motivate my writers through the entire school year.  I’ve followed this system for years and have made tweaks along the way depending on the needs of my students. I’ve been very fortunate with having students who love to write and have been able to create some amazing stories over the years!  So.... what is this system and what does it look like?   I like to think that writing in Kindergarten is divided into three “seasons.” Each season has it’s own challenges and triumphs.  Here is a timeline of my writing activities and “tricks” from the beginning of the year until now. 

Writing Season 1..August, September, October



I prefer to keep this season non-threatening and FUN!  I do have them do some name writing, letter writing and I model sentences for them.  However, I want them to be comfortable with writing and not feel pressure to produce a product.  

Typical Activities for this Season
Practice Journals (5 pages of white paper stapled together….1 journal a week.)
Free writing and drawing in these journals. Sometimes focused on a specific topic such as apples or firetrucks.
Simple mini-lessons on writing the date, not skipping pages and focusing on one topic.
Letter / Word Work lessons are emphasized during whole group and small group times.



Writing Season 2…November, December, January

Our Writing Center

Writing season 2 is a time when those “shining stars” can really begin to flourish! They are usually the trend setters who begin to write sentences on their own and sometimes some actual stories! They serve as motivators for the rest of the students. However, I do make sure all students’ writing efforts are celebrated! It is crucial at this time for my kids to feel successful about their writing!

Typical Activities for this Season
Our “real” journals (spiral notebooks) are introduced. Each day a student must include some writing…not just pictures.

More detailed mini lessons using word lists and modeling sentences.

Writing center must do’s begin to produce some actual stories.
Continue to emphasize letter and word work during group lessons.



Writing Season 3February, March, April and May

Season 3 …my favorite!   This can be an amazing writing season provided you have eased into it slowly and in a non-stressful manner.  It can be frustrating for students who lack letter/phonics skills or have not had enough time to experiment with writing at their own pace.  It is also a time when some students begin to experience "writer's block" and seem to need help with organizing their ideas and their materials.  This is when I really start pulling out my bag of tricks to help motivate my writers. Hopefully, you can find something here that can help you spark some creativity in your little writers during these last few weeks of the school year.



Lists! We make lots and lots of lists! By now they are very familiar with our popcorn words. Having thematic words available to them can sometimes trigger an idea for a story. Here’s a link to my thematic word wall organization.


Word rings…The kids usually copy the words that they find the most interesting from our thematic lists onto their word rings.  They keep these with them in their writing tubs (pictured below.)  I have found that some kids do better with having their words close by instead of looking at a wall.

Anchor charts…I use various anchor charts during our mini lessons. I do continue to refer to these often and they are housed near our writing center when we are not using them during group time.
Once I introduce this "leaving spaces" chart they seem to remember to leave those spaces more frequently!

We use this chart FREQUENTLY during mini-lessons and while editing each other's work during Author's Chair.
This is an anchor chart which we review before center times or  if I have several children experiencing the dreaded "writer's block."                                                                 
Interactive writing…As part of my morning meeting I use an interactive writing activity similar to morning message. Here is a link to a post on my "daily news" activity.  We also do a lot of interactive class stories together.

One factor that seems to keep some of my kids from being successful writers is simply a lack of organization.  This year I started using writing tubs!  Each child stores all of their writing materials in their tub and they take the entire tub to their writing spot.  Writing folders also seem to help.  They can keep two items on their “still working” side and two items parked on the author’s chair side. 


In their writing tubs students keep their journals, writing folders, word rings and  supply boxes. They can take the tub with everything they need to their writing spot. 
Whew! This was a long post! I apparently worked through my writer’s block! Just think about how great those kiddos feel when they complete one of their amazing stories! Thanks for reading…I hope you found something you can use!
                                                                                                                                 Mrs. M
                                                                                       Our Author's Chair              

                                                               

5 comments:

  1. What great ideas! I love the writing tubs and word rings. I'll be incorporating those into my classroom next year. THANKS!

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  2. Mrs. M - I love how you describe the different stages as seasons :0) This is a fantastic post describing how to intro and proceed with writer's workshop - thank you!!

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  3. Thank you Jeannie....I really appreciate you having me as a guest blogger! =)
    Bobbie


    The Daily Cupcake…A Kindergarten Blog

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  4. I love all of the wonderful ideas! And loved seeing them in action in the classroom! ;)

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