Monthly Archives: March 2011

Week 8: Prep – 5&6 Year Olds:- My young writers are amazing me. This post: Journal Writing, Individual Language Experience Set Writing & PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing

I try to post during the week, but life is hectic. I know from emails that many teachers are following my students, and asking for more information. I’ll post something significant soon. I do need to say that my student’s writing parallels their reading development. They will tell you that they are ‘rocking and rolling’. Language Experience is the key.

Independent Journal Writing.

Journal Writing Samples: I always display a range of writing from my class. This is independent writing…and my students live near the beach.


Language Experience:  Set Class Sentence composed independently and individually.

Language Experience Sentence: All students write our class orally developed sentence independently. Whilst my students are writing, I’m observing their use od strategies. The Language Experience orally created sentence is: We are eating lunch at school.


PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing.

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: Language Experience sentence orally created as a grade: Today we are having a special lunch. I was particularly interested in how they would tackle spelling ‘today’ and ‘special’, and I have to say I’m impressed.

Cheers Nina

P.S  Send me an email if you would like more information.


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Week 7 – First Year of Formal Education in Australia: 5 Year Olds – PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing.

I can’t believe how quickly our first term in Victoria, Australia is travelling. The Preps have had Wednesdays off for the first 6 weeks, a four day week for week 7 due to a  public holiday, and will now attend everyday. The children have completed an assessment interview on one of the Wednesdays, which works well. With the initial assessment completed, I have documented where each student is on our learning continuum, planned teaching and learning needs for the grade, for individuals, and identified groups of students with similar learning needs. 

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing is planned each week, and this is when I’m looking for the transfer of teaching and learning into their writing. Listening to the children ‘talk their learning’ while they construct their sentence gives a wonderful insight into their thinking. I’m looking for the strategies being used, their ‘thinking aloud’ and how well the taught strategies are supporting them. Listening, observing and questioning allows me to plan the ‘where to from here’.

Our Language Experience sentence for this learning experience is: We always do our work. My focus was on listening to their conversations, and observing their use of strategies.



Whilst roving and observing my students, I paid particular attention to how they attacked ‘always’. These children are beginning writers, and their attemps are excellent. Their independent writing is also developing well.

Cheers Nina


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Week 6 of my 4&5 Year Olds first year of school: PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing – Why is this strategy so powerful?

What makes PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing a powerful strategy?

The key is students  working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using skills and language generally used by teachers. One comment I received recently described this as ‘lending our cognition’, and I really liked this description. All students are engaged in the activity, each student committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children, or to extend groups of children. The teacher is able to run a teacher led group concurrently, which I do regularly but not at this stage of the year. The children need to be confident and have experience with the process before I can withdraw.

Each child is identified by a  color which they select, and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and textas. The role of the group leader is to ensure their team record their name on the side, that all resources are ready (alphabet tool cards and writing spacers) and that each child contributes in name order.  I use PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci for individuals and the whole class. The color used identifies the writer.

It’s interesting to note that my student’s independent writing improves rapidly. I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching into my student’s Independent and Interactive Writing.  Modelled Writing and Shared Writing are also planned into a weekly program from week one. We get going quickly. Language Experience and Inquiry are my ‘holy grail’.  

By the middle of the year my students are able to identify their learning needs and will suggest the foci for writing sessions. That is powerful! Some children, and they are 5 or 6 years old, will teach the writing focus or make suggestions for me to use. Groups share their writing with the class, with little books made using their Interactive Writing texts used for reading. This strategy extends highly able students, develops students working at the standard expected and supports less able students. I believe it accelerates the writing ability of all students.

Please read my previous posts in this blog. I have written about this strategy many times and have provided numerous pictures and descriptions of my student’s writing development. I’d also recommend reading my posts on general Independent Writing development as I have provided many examples of student writing in these posts as well. I think once you’ve seen the development of my student’s writing you’ll be as excited as I am about this approach, and keen to develop this approach in your own classroom.  It’s called the PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing Approach to recognise my student’s committment and success. They have a passion for writing, and many in previous years have taken exercise books home for the holidays to keep a journal. Many of my parents tell me that their children write at home because they love it. Now that’s special! I can only hope that their enthusiasm continues as they grow.

The pictures provided are of this weeks use of this strategy. My students are in Week 6 of their first year of formal schooling, take out Wednesdays… and I’m amazed. They were able to ‘get going’ quickly, the chosen leaders knew their role,and the resources were out and used. The process is developing, but they’re giving ‘it a great go’. The conversations and ‘thinking aloud’ is happening, although ‘prompting’ takes time, but they are collaborating and being inclusive. This is a skill in itself!

 Our Language Experience sentence for this writing experience is: We eat lunch at school At this stage of the year each group constructs the same sentence. Before they start writing, I ensure that all groups can chant our sentence.


Cheers Nina

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It’s week 6 of my 4&5 Year Olds First Year of Formal Education: Independent Writing – Monday’s Journal!

My young writers truly inspire me. Just watching these very young children put their learning into practice is wonderful. They’re searching for letters, hunting for words, starting to prompt each other, using the tool cards, giving writing spacers a ‘real go’ and ‘thinking aloud’. They are engaged, and there is even a little bit of amazement when I read back  what they have written. It’s that look of wonder, and that realization that what they’re writing can be read. This is a quick post, but it’s really rewarding to be their teacher. They are teaching me!


I love this final writing sample. This student had so much to write, was completely engaged, and read this back with ‘gusto’.  One child wrote two linked sentences, amd this is independent writing. And yes we still have time to play!

Cheers Nina


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My little blog where I reflect on my teaching and learning has just ‘cranked’ over 50 000 views. I’m an Australian educator trying to keep in touch with the world!

My little blog where I reflect on what I do just ‘cranked’ over 50 000 views. Not bad for a teacher of 4, 5 and 6 year olds in Australia. I’ve just commenced my 3rd year of blogging, which in itself amazes me. I try to post something each week which illustrates the development of my students, my improving practice, new ideas I’m trialling, and what is helping me develop into the teacher I want to be for myself and my students. And I’m not there yet! 

Since writing this blog my confidence in myself as an educator has grown. I now put my hand up for things I might not have before. I have a self belief in my practice, I except that I’m a learner, I’m a reflective practitioner, and I understand that change and professional growth are the ‘constant’ in this profession! I’m grounded in my understanding and belief in ‘how children learn best’, and… I’m a constructivist. I wouldn’t have been able to articulate that several years ago, and I’d been teaching for many years. My philosophy wasn’t grounded!

My blog is my ‘enabler’, and by this I mean it has enabled me to collaborate and connect with educators locally, nationally and globally. My learning is not limited by borders. I can ‘tap’ into and learn from the world’s finest educators anywhere from my computer in Victoria, Australia. Where to from here? Who knows? I actually feel that my career is just beginning, and that’s an exciting place to be. Any suggestions welcome! I’m open!

Thanks for visiting, leaving a comment, or sharing your practice with me.

Cheers Nina


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PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing – 5 & 6 Year Olds in the initial weeks of their first year of formal education. Why students need to ‘think aloud’?

Think Aloud is a strategy that scaffolds students’ interactions with print. I’ve been using this strategy in literacy sessions – Interactive, Shared, Guided and Modelled. When modelling my journal, I’m making my thinking process very explicit. Articulating the strategies I’m using, resources that are helping me, and constantly articulating the ‘read back & check and change’ process.

This has definitely increased my students’ use of these strategies. During Student Led Interactive Writing, I roam for part of the session listening to conversations, and prompting when necessary. It’s wonderful to see these very young children sharing their thinking strategies aloud with their group. Today I noticed a number of children prompting not telling , and when this happens the learning truly becomes collaborative.

I model editing when I write, and I think by doing this I’m giving my beginning writers the message that it’s good practice to cross out, change and check. I’ve noticed this starting to happen. I’ve included a number of photos from today’s Interactive Writing learning experience.

Our Language Experience whole class negotiated sentence is: I went to the playground. At this stage of the year, all groups do the same sentence. There are excellent attempts at writing  ‘playground’. The children  had to draw upon everything they knew to attempt this word.

Cheers Nina


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Instructional Rounds and me – Teacher Professional Leave: 2010 -2011.

This week I’ll be part of an Instructional Round taking place in a secondary school. To prepare,  I’ve been revisiting my reflections from last year.  In 2010, my Teacher Professional Leave (TPL) partner and I were part of the Southern Metropolitan Region Instructional Rounds Pilot. Move forward one year, and it’s interesting to note that my blog stats record Instructional Rounds as a common search topic. This was not the case a year ago.

To support Instructional Rounds, my TPL partner and I created the following videos. If you haven’t seen them, please take a look.

The following video is not for general viewing on YouTube, but you can view by clicking the following link. This is a photostory of the SMR Instructional Rounds Pilot. It’s already been viewed 361 times which is considerable considering it can only be viewed via the link.


Cheers Nina


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