Writing and playing are not one and the same but there is deep value in forging connections between the two by finding regular opportunities to have children both write while they play, AND play while they write!
Puppets are powerful vehicles through which kindergarten students can develop characters and experiment with storytelling and play is essential to the way that young children learn. By combining puppets and play, children can begin to do the important pre-writing work necessary to develop rich characters and powerful stories in writing workshop.
It’s dramatic when the light comes on, when a writer suddenly takes a step they had only recently not yet been ready to take. As a teacher of writers, I can’t wait to pounce on those moments, to facilitate the avalanche of growth on the horizon.
A topsy turvy year brings with it surprises. Some have been valuable enough to carry forward. I'm looking forward to bringing the best of the year with me and letting the challenges become a memory.
How can I be clear about aligning what families hear me teaching with what their children are doing with the feedback both they and I offer kids along the way?
What are the ways I can let writers know that I SEE them, that I understand and appreciate all that they are bringing to the page and the process? How might my feedback serve as a mirror, reflecting back to writers a clear image of who they are, of what is important to them, of evidence of their growth?
Intentionally putting a focus on rehearsal took me on a deeper exploration of its importance in my remote classroom.
A silver lining of teaching remotely has been opportunities, like this one, to elevate authentic reasons to read and write. Kids are curious about how others do things, and they have so much real-world expertise to share. A strategy such as this one gives our youngest writers access to topics that might otherwise exceed their emergent writing skills.
Janet Ahn and I share our strategies and ideas for teaching the youngest writers in remote settings.
Maya Angelou reminds me that when I know better, I can do better. The more I know about how, where, and why a student is functioning, the better I can teach that student.
There's no question it is challenging to get to know writers deeply via Zoom. And yet. . . something is working, because all of my remote kindergartners are writing. They are all making books. And while I might not have an hour each day to be side by side with them in the classroom, there is no question I am finding ways to get to know what kind of writers they are and what they need.
Instead of an on-demand writing assessment early on in kindergarten this year, I drafted a Writing and Drawing Observation. This is an informal observation of children drawing and writing during their writing workshop time. Observing young children and keeping anecdotal records of their behaviors is a time-tested tradition in early childhood education.