Monthly Archives: October 2009

Thanks for the feedback! It is worth continuing my blog…

Every now and again I get an email from someone who visits my blog. Today is one of those days. When you write a blog you have no idea who your readers are. I know what countries they come from, I know what was searched to find my blog and I know how many people have visited. Sometimes a reader will leave a comment, but mostly not. I started my blog in the beginning as part of my professional development. I need to understand and use Web 2.0. , but I’ve gained so much more…

Sue from Victoria sent me an email thanking me for sharing. She has followed my blog religiously and incorporated the ideas within her own Prep – One – Two classroom. She reports that her children’s writing has improved dramatically, that their engagement has sky rocketed and the improvement in their reading and comprehension has been amazing. She also said that incorporating ‘student led’ group activities into her classroom has resulted in better behavior. Her students are taking responsibility for their learning and loving it. Now her colleagues are asking her to share what she is doing and she is  sharing. She asked me if that’s ‘ok’. Well hell yeah! That is wonderful…

The fact that my blog is helping teachers and more importantly improving student learning is fantastic. I write this blog, which is a huge committment and this feedback motivates me to continue. Ownership means nothing to me, this is not about intellectual property. So cut and paste, use ideas and share with others. The other question was where do I get  ideas from. I’ve worked with some amazing people, I read for professional development, I am a trained Early Years Literacy & Numeracy Coordinator, I’ve completed Peer Coaching, I have a great professional network and have been teaching forever or so it feels.  I also started this blog at a time when I was looking for something new. I love what I do, but I need to be challenged. I would never say I was bored, but I certainly felt I had more to offer to others, but no forum to do it.

Thanks Sue from Victoria for the email. It’s just what I needed to keep me going! Cheers Nina

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Using an Editing Checklist! Our Journals… We are authors!

I’m spending alot of time talking about editing. Today I spoke to my preps about the writing process that authors go through. Authors write notes or a plan with lots of jottings or ideas. They then think about what they’re going to write and complete a first draft. This draft may stay a draft or it may become a piece of writing to be read by an audience. If it’s goinng to be read by an audience it has to be correct. I told them that authors correct their writing and then… they sometimes give it to a Wordsmith. Wordsmiths are people who correct the edited writing by an author. My preps understood this and it highlighted the process that writers go through.


They are starting to understand that writing is a process. Today my children wrote a first draft about a topic of personal interest. When we were talking about Wordsmiths, one child put up their hand and said they wanted to be an engineer. This led to other children sharing what they wanted to be when they grew up. It’s a lovely converstaion to have with young children and some children decided to write about this.


When they had finished their first draft I asked them to complete their writing checklist. See previous post – 5 Year Olds Can Develop Criteria for Editing. Hand Over the Responsibility. The class constructed  writing checklist will be completed by the children everytime they write. It is a powerful strategy which I believe inproves student writing.




Cheers Nina

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PrepD Interactive Writing – Here I go again! Assessment: Where are we now? Let them edit and watch them grow.


It’s now three quarters of the way through my Prep’s ( 5&6 Year Olds) first year of formal education in Australia. Today we investigated how we could remember what happened in a story. I asked them to think about what happened ‘simply’ first, before we put in the details. The hamburger model is an excellent visual and thinking tool for young children. The bottom bun is the beginning, the hamburger is the middle and the top bun is the end. The extra parts of the story become the lettuce, tomato, sauce etc… The children ‘get this’. After identifying the main parts of the story, we discussed the filling pieces of the story. These are the parts that ‘add color’, bring in background information about the characters,  the setting and mood. My preps will be learning more about these concepts in the coming weeks.

The children were asked to write 3 or 4 sentences about the story. I asked them to think about what the most important parts of the story were and write about those points. We looked at our writing checklist that we developed at the end of last term and decided to use it to edit when finished. It was interesting to note how seriously they took their editing. I could hear conversations among children when they were checking and identifying where they had forgotten to put a capital letter or a full stop etc. They decided not to tick a box until they had corrected their writing properly.




I’ve included pictures of their spellings of the word ‘invisible’. I’m really impressed by their ‘have a go’ attitude and their confidence to ‘take risks’ when writing. ‘Taking risks’ and ‘having a go’ are a huge factor in writing development. Children who feel they have to get the spelling of words write in their first draft will stick to safe simple words. Children who ‘take risks’ use exciting vocabulary and try to make their writing interesting. Developing the confidence in children to ‘take risks’ when writing starts day one. Praise and encouragement given when children first start writing is essential. The other children will be listening!




 The photo below is of a child recording ticks against the checklist. Young children are very capable. This group decided that they needed to add some more interesting words to their writing before they ticked the box.  I actually thought they did a great piece of writing, but as they were after sincere feedback, I encouraged the group to add two interesting words to their wrting.


This is ‘thinking writing’ and by this I mean that it’s not a journal or recount. It’s much harder for the children to compose this sort of text because they have to think, discuss, respond and write. I hope you enjoy this post. Cheers Nina

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Journal Writing-Prep (5&6 Year Olds) Term 3 Samples & Assessment Criteria: A learning journey…

The holidays are over and I’m looking forward to the warmer weather to come. On Monday morning the children were excited to be back, full of holiday news and eager to write their journals. To say they were keen is an understatement. I started with a whole class focus reviewing punctuation and linking sentences. We talked about sequencing events and making sure our writing is as exciting as our speaking.

Assessment: What am I looking for in my students writing that evidences their progression along the continuum?  VELS – English Continuum: Writing  

Prep – Expected Standard  SOURCE – SOFWEB

At Level 1, students write personal recounts and simple texts about familiar topics to convey ideas or messages. In their writing, they use conventional letters, groups of letters, and simple punctuation such as full stops and capital letters. Students are aware of the sound system and the relationships between letters and sounds in words when spelling. They form letters correctly, and use a range of writing implements and software.

End of Semester 1 – Year 1: Expected Standard

At 1.25, the work of a student progressing towards the standard at Level 2 demonstrates, for example:

  • inclusion of their own experiences when writing for personal purposes and audiences such as in lists, letters, cards, posters
  • inclusion of one or more generally readable sentences
  • some correct use of capital letters and full stops
  • drawings that support the intended meaning of their writing
  • plausible attempts at spelling unfamiliar words, matching sound–letter relationships and using some simple spelling patterns

End of Year 1 – Expected Standard

At 1.5, the work of a student progressing towards the standard at Level 2 demonstrates, for example:

  • experimentation with a range of short text types; for example, recounts, letters, lists, procedures
  • correct spelling of some high-frequency words and plausible attempts at spelling unfamiliar words
  • combination of writing with drawings or computer graphics to support meaning
  • rereading of their own writing, checking that it makes sense
  • sequencing of a small number of ideas in short texts for different purposes and audiences

Random sample of my student’s latest writing. These young writers continue to amaze me.








What do you think? I’ll share my assessment notes in my next post. Cheers Nina

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