It is always good to have our students write; it is even better when they WANT to write.
This lesson is done the last week of school (when all of the Kindergarteners, in my opinion, have quit but haven't told anyone)... so it is good that this is engaging and rewarding for them!
With this lesson, students will be accessing their reading foundational skills and their writing skills in order to support and appropriately express their background knowledge and memories from the year! Also, here is a video explaining why I personally find this meaningful in my classroom.
This lesson will begin in the whole group on the carpet and will then move through stages.
Here is the layout of this lesson:
- on the carpet- Introduce in whole group, then Model to whole group
- at seats- Independently write titles
- on the carpet- Independent think time, then Share time
- at seats- Independent Writing Time
- on the carpet- Sharing Time
"Today, we are going to do a really fun end-of-the-year project! Now, this project is going to require you to do some thinking and some talking. But then, once you have all of your ideas and thoughts out, you are going to write to show me what you remember! Now... this won't be just any writing! This is a special writing that your parents are going to get on your last day of kindergarten; this is a really important piece of writing!" (wait time)
"Now, when we are thinking, talking and writing, I want you to make sure that you are trying your hardest! This is one of your last pieces of Kindergarten work, so I want to see you do your best!"
"Here is what we are going to write about....." (wait time) "In just a moment, you are going to go back to your seat and write the title, 'Here are some things I learned in Kindergarten.' While you are writing those words, use your best handwriting because you will be writing this title on some pretty cards for the top of your paper!" (wait time) "Once you write your title, I want you to come back up here to the carpet and sit on your square. I want you to think of some things you learned about in Kindergarten. As you think, stick one finger up for each idea. I want you to keep thinking until you have ten fingers up!" (wait time) "This will be your silent think time, so just think for yourself. Let me show you an example of how I would think."
Model: "I might think... hmmmm... I remember that, a long time ago, when we all had bear counters, we learned how to do AB, ABB and ABC patterns!" (wait time) "I remembered that one thing, so I will put up one finger. Hmmmmm... Now, I also remember that we learned that we can put B and D to bed to remember which direction B and D should be written." (wait time) "I remembered another thing, so I can put up another finger." (wait time)
"Does everyone see how I am going to think?"
(Students should agree or nod.)
As I do my think-aloud, I write and show students my example.
"Good! Now that you know what to do when you are done, I would like for you to go and write your title. As you write it, remember to use your best handwriting, your best spelling and even be thinking about ideas if you can! Your title is "Here are some things I learned in Kindergarten."
At this time, I will send students back to their seats. It should take them about five minutes to write and another two or three minutes to think.
At this point, students will have been thinking for at least a couple of minutes. As long as all students have more than five fingers up, I will begin this section of the lesson.
"Now, you are going to share your ideas with your friends. Someone else might have remembered something that you didn't; or they can add on to your ideas! It is always good to hear others' thoughts, so we need to make sure that when we are not talking, we are listening. You guys are going to get into groups of four and take turns sharing one idea at a time. Make sure that when you listen to someone else, you add to their idea or give them feedback when you can. If you thought of the same idea as someone else, show them that you agree with your conversational symbol. I want you to share your thoughts and also be open to the thoughts of your partners. If you are ready for that, you may move into your partner groups!"
As students are sharing ideas in groups, I will walk around and monitor their conversations. I will give academic feedback and help if needed. I like this portion of the lesson because it allows me to hear students' initial, individual thoughts while also allowing them an opportunity to build upon their answer base in a fun, interactive way! I will be sure to say aloud some good ideas or conversation exchanges that I heard to serve as a solid example for the writing that will come next!
At this time, I will allow students to show me what they know.
(Since this is an end-of-the-year lesson, I like to take the time that students are writing to pull kids to do their last independent reading with me for their report card! This is just an idea, but there is enough time here to pull 3-6 kids and that's always a positive!)
As students are writing independently, I will expect them to be writing their own thinking as well as the suggestions from others. If students need a new idea, I will remind them to think back to ALL we have discussed and read about.
I have a couple of students who really cannot get their sentences formed correctly. With these students, I will have them do their writing, then bring it to me; as long as they have written something and can express it to me, I can add or correct their initial writing and they can then copy my version for themselves.
Also, I like to have a few students type their writing. Typically, I have a few who will get their ideas out very quickly and will be done. An easy way to keep those quick kids busy, while also exposing them to needed skills, it to allow them to publish their writing on the computer. I think it is important to teach students that their presentable work is their best work, and typing encourages that. Also, it is crucial that students learn how to take their ideas from pencil to keyboard with the new technology expectations of today's schools!
Here is an example of a typed (published) assignment that shows what students said and how they expressed their ideas from their memory. And here is another great example of this work from one of my quick-finishers.
Students who get finished early with their writing or typing will be expected to re-read over their work and make corrections. Also, I will encourage students to have others read their work to help make suggestions for corrections as well. In the end, each piece of work will be one that had thought, planning through conversation, initial writing, re-reading and editing and/or revising!
I like to let students share their work in three ways:
Presenting to the class
Publishing on the computer
Displaying in the hallway
How do I choose which way I want my kids to share? Well, it depends on how much time is available! Typically, I will choose five kids to present, five to publish and five to hang in the hallway- this allows students to have different experiences with different writing and also lets them know that they need to be doing their best because they never know how their assignment might be used! Since this is the end of the year, I really like to TRY to plan to let all students present to the class. It takes about twenty minutes for all of the kids to read their writing to the class (with help from me every once in a while), but it is worth it to see their presenter skills and their proud faces!
Since this is an end-of-the-year writing assignment, I have a lot of expectations for the finished product. Students will have done most of this writing work independently, with the exception of some edits that may have been suggested by a peer and completed.
Here are the things I will be looking for:
Command of capitalization, spacing and punctuation.
Use of inventive, phonetic spelling.
Correct spelling of high frequency words.
Clear presentation related to the topic/title.
In the end, I give these papers a grade of excellent, satisfactory or non-satisfactory. This is usually the last writing grade I give, so I try to pay attention to details. Also, I really like to have this be the last writing grade because it is an assignment that is dear to my heart; I really enjoy grading students' writing about what they learned because it affirms that I taught well!