Taking journal writing to the next level is the learning goal for this group of students. The focus has been extending the student’s journal writing by introducing scaffolding /planning structures which help the children sequence their ideas.
The children usually write their personal journal on a Monday after a weekend, so it was a natural progression for the first scaffolding strategy to involve the days of the weekend. This starts with the children writing about Saturday and Sunday with the inclusion of a ’rounding off’ sentence or finishing sentence. Included in teaching sessions has been an introduction to adjectives or ‘coloring in words’ to ‘brighten up’ their writing by making their writing more interesting. Adjectives are ‘creeping’ into to the student’s writing as transference from teaching sessions is embedded.
This week the students were introduced to another scaffolding plan based upon questioning. This simple plan involved the children writing one or two words for when?, who?, what?, where?, how? and why? A picture representing each question has been put in the plan to remind children what they have been asked to do.
Jacinta (4th year teaching student intern) introduced the plan using a big dice with when?, who? etc… on the sides. She rolled the dice and then modelled her own journal for the children. It is really important that the children know that the plan must only have one or two words per question. This was the first time the children have used a formal plan and it has helped the children who find extending their writing challenging. It has provided a scaffold for their ideas.
The children will keep using this plan as it has helped them to organise their thoughts. A number of children wrote 2 pages of organised text and most wrote at least a page. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that these children are 5 or 6 years old and in their first year of formal schooling in Australia.