I find that to build and accelerate the writing skills of young children and actually students of all ages, opportunities need to be given for students to record purposefully. Journal writing is a favourite of teachers in the Early Years and although important, I don’t believe recounts should be used by themselves for assessing a student’s writing progress.
Children need to write in different styles naturally and with purpose. Journal writing tends to become stilted and doesn’t challenge young writers by the end of their first semester at school. I call it ‘nuts and bolts’ writing.
Inquiry Learning and Language Experience partner each other perfectly, because how can you inquire without being exposed to real experiences? How can vocabulary be built if it’s not linked to real experiences? How can we expect children to write well without building vocabulary? This is why many young children struggle to write – their oral language and experience are limited. It is also why I believe oral language development is critical to becoming literate. It starts from birth.
Language Experience: Real Learning!
“What I can think about, I can talk about.”
“What I can say, I can write.”
“What I can write, I can read.”
“I can read what I can write and what other people can write for me to read.”
Strategy: From day one of Prep I start building vocabulary. I put a word on the board e.g. start and ask the children to come up with words of similar meaning. At the beginning of the year my Preps would come up with one word, possibly two if I was lucky. By the end of the year my students were consistently making lists of ten or more words of similar meaning to my initial word. There has to be a psychological term for this which I can’t name, but it’s related to developing the thinking skills and potential of young minds. It is, however, understanding that young children 4-6 years at the beginning of Prep have brains like sponges and a natural curiosity which needs harnessing.
I’ve added some photos of Inquiry writing samples from our Inquiry into Sustaining our environment- What is living and non-living?- Term 4. As our school has the sea ‘on our doorstep’ it was natural to start with Moondah Beach. Ben (my students called him Ben-Ten) from the Dolphin Research Centre was heavily involved in our Inquiry. Having an expert to lead ‘hands on’ learning experiences was wonderful.
The children design a border for each learning reflection as Lane Clark states that children are more inclined to remember information when they use a border. I would also state that I’m not including the best but the average standard in my class and it is the students own reflection and recording of their learning.
I hope you enjoy this post. I’m still learning how to respond to comments. I actually replied to one person three times. That might sound interesting but it was the same reply from me three times. Ummmmm! Cheers Nina
Vocabulary: Our Mural