Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tips for Writer's Workshop in Kindergarten

Do you ever feel the pressure or weight that comes along with the knowledge that, as an early years educator, you are responsible for building a child’s foundation for learning? While I 100% subscribe to the philosophy that students should learn through free play and exploration, I also firmly believe that the early years are when we lay the foundation for learning for the future. 

I believe strongly in learning through play and most of our school day is student-led, play-based, and promotes inquiry and exploration at an age- and developmentally- appropriate level. However, I also believe strongly in meeting students where they are academically and following their lead in terms of reading and writing readiness. I have very few students who don’t show that they are interested and ready to become readers and writers. Children are fascinated by how their older siblings, parents, and educators are able to communicate, explore and ascertain information by reading and writing and therefore, they express a desire to do the same.

Writer’s Workshop, or ‘L’Atelier des écrivains’ as we call it, is a 15 to 20 minute period in our day that we focus specifically on encoding (building words) and decoding (breaking words down into their parts) skills. This year, in order to truly differentiate our instruction, we have split our class into two groups. The groupings are selected based on ability and are fluid, changing with student need in the various areas we are focusing on and as students begin to progress throughout the year.  

Creating these two groups has allowed us to meet our budding writers where they are and with our less advanced writers, we work on phonemic awareness as the building blocks of encoding and decoding. With our more advanced writers, we focus first on building words, then on writing sentences, and finally on editing and revising our written work. 

We also take this time to focus on decoding skills as the process and skills required for both encoding and decoding are very similar. I will often model encoding or decoding on the whiteboard or review strategies and tools we have discussed before asking the students to begin their writing. I will then circulate and work one-on-one with those who are struggling. 

This week, our focus was on sentence writing with our more advanced group. We began with talking about the components of a sentence and watched this video:

We then talked about capitalization and its importance, watching this video about capital letters: 

I created these posters about when to use ‘Les lettres majuscules et les lettres minuscules’ for a fun way to remember the rules of capitalization and how they are different in French and English.

I then reviewed with my students the importance of using clear spaces between our words. This video and these ‘Space Men’ were super helpful resources for remembering to leave space between each word we write.

To end our week of sentence writing lessons, we focus on punctuation. The kids loved this video about different types of punctuation and loved the posters I created, giving names to each of these 4 basic punctuation marks.

We make punctuation pals with question marks, periods, exclamation marks and commas on popsicle sticks. We use these 'Punctuation Pals' (Amis de poncutation) to add punctuation to basic sentences. I typically write simple sentences in English in order to teach this lesson.

Throughout the week, we refer back to our sentence writing anchor chart to remind us how to write perfect sentences. 

Looking to start Writer's Workshop with your Kinders? This 'Écrire les phrases' resource in my TPT store is a great way to begin! Click on the image below to head to my store to grab it.

Happy teaching, friends!

xo Jess

P. S- Looking for this resource but on a budget? You can get this resource for free by subscribing to my newsletter! Click the tab above to get this resource for free and to gain access to my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY.