If you walk into a kindergarten classroom during writer’s workshop at Hinsdale, you will see a classroom of 5-6 year olds talking and learning from one another about Polar Bears. Over the past month, kindergarteners have been learning about Polar Bears and the Artic habitat. The walls and the classroom is covered with Focus Charts titled; How Polar Bears Hunt?, How Polar Bears Survive in the Artic Region?, How Polar Bears stay warm?, and much more.
At the start of the school year, the students were introduced to the process of writing, six traits and what great author’s do. Students were given an opportunity to read authentic literature, practice writing, discuss literature and ideas with peers and their teacher and begin to tell their stories with journal writing.
In regard to primary writing, Duke, Hall, Purcell-Gates, and Tower (2006) state, “Students, we believe, need to read authentic literature and to engage in authentic writing” (p.344). Using authentic literature as an example, students will develop an understanding of the components of writing. This also helps students to understand the different purposes for reading and writing.
After the Christmas holiday, kindergarteners at Hinsdale move into more writing, writing centers, writing books, researching, and independence. The writer’s workshop structure in kindergarten is:
Mini-lesson (15 minutes)
During the mini-lessons in kindergarten writer’s workshop, students sit on the rug, and partake in a shared lesson, collaborate with peers, share ideas, watch the teacher ‘write’, unscramble sentences, work on grammar and much more. While visiting, students were engaged, excited and enjoyed sharing their knowledge about Polar Bears and the Artic Region. The kindergartener were using “fancy Nancy” words such as translucent, powerful and patiently.
Using writing centers in writer’s workshop, gives the classroom teacher an opportunity to meet with a small group of student’s and work on editing, writing, craft, grammar, spelling and ideas. This small group/centers gives the teacher an opportunity to “conference” and check in with students in a small setting and meet with individual students where they are at within the writing process. The writing centers give the students time to independently work on other skills within the writing genre. The other centers were various skills that support the research/informative writing about Polar Bears.
Writing with our youngest students in important for them to make purposeful connections to reading and writing. During our hour site visit at Hinsdale, we noticed our youngest students working independently, generating their own ideas, checking for errors, working with peers, staying on task, learning content and much more. If you would like to learn more about writer’s workshop or six traits, please don’t hesitate to contact Tessa Levitt or Anne Cator or visit a classroom of kindergarteners making it happen at Hinsdale Elementary School.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
Mr. Bernys and his 9th grade Cattaraugus-Little Valley English students just finished reading the Module text, Romeo and Juliet. The students in each section of his classes were grouped into sets of four students. Within these groups, the students filled the role of the Verona News Team broadcasting “live news” from various scenes in Romeo and Juliet. In these simulated news broadcasts, the students needed to compose a script and write lines for each participant. The students needed to base the scripts on the on Romeo and Juliet’s death, the fight in the streets between the Montagues and the Capulets, and the Capulet Ball. The students shared text-based information pertaining to the major events in the book. Each group’s presentation lasted about 5-7 minutes. It was great to see the students so excited about a classic text as well as how much they retained from the lessons. Mr. Bernys and I got to participate with the students for some of the skits.
The students had the opportunity to use the TV/Video production room which simulated a real news anchor experience. This very unique room at Cattaraugus Little Valley is a state of the art studio containing running cameras, camcorders, digital video switchers, microphones, sound mixers, green screen, Teleprompters, and lighting equipment. It also has graphic and editing computer work stations that are used to generate productions. Mr. Chris Maguda, teacher of a Broadcasting class at CLV, assisted with the audio/visual production along with the students. It is lessons like these that allow students to showcase what they have learned, increase student engagement and enjoyment.
By: Kristen Meier, CA BOCES and Cattaraugus-Little Valley
Students are meeting the demands of CCLS with the work being done in reading workshop as well. Like the writing workshop, during reading teachers are developing targeted and rigorous mini-lessons, selecting texts that challenge all learners, and including student choice in leveled reading materials designed to build a lifelong love of reading. Units often are built around a central text supplemented by relevant, nonfiction materials that build students’ background knowledge base on the topics or themes of the central text. Opportunities for students to engage in text-based conversations both in whole groups and small groups reinforce the skills being taught at the time, and those skills are then applied to the students’ independent reading selections. Ultimately students’ time with eyes on print is greater than ever, and that time will pay off as they progress through school.
Teachers who are looking for the right fit for their classrooms may very well find that reading and writing workshop is an instructional approach worth pursuing. A workshop model provides a balance of structure and flexibility that responds to student needs while targeting the various standards.
By: Amy Windus, Pioneer Central School and CA BOCES
Students and teachers (of COSER 501 member districts) can access hundreds of thousands of digital resources using CABOCES Digital Kids.
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