Tag Archives: Language Experience

Week 10- Last week of Term 1: We’re writers! Independent Journal Recount

The first term has finished for this wonderful group of eager, and engaged young learners. I still can’t believe how quickly this time has gone. The Australian school year has four terms, with approximately ten weeks in each term. It was lovely to  hear  a number of my students say they didn’t want holidays, and were disappointed there was no school next week.

Starting school for these very young people is ‘huge’, and I need to remind myself of this. Dealing with new situations is taxing for all, add this to establishing new routines, familiarizing themselves in a new environment, being independent and mixing with many new children, and adults. Add learning into this mix, and we can all see why they actually do need ‘time out’ for a break.

This post displays a range of writing from my grade. I’m very proud of their achievements, and will spend some time mapping ‘where to next’.

 To my Australian colleagues, I hope you enjoy your holidays.

Cheers Nina  :)0I0=;  What do you think of my new tag?


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The Reading Wall – Language Experience & Our new sentence!

This quick post was written in response to an email I received asking for a little more information.


The ‘Everyday Reading Wall’.

Today we started a new ‘Language Experience’ little book.  Having just completed our first book, it was time to start our ‘Everyday Reading Wall’. The reading wall is created from the previous class made sentences and read everyday. Reading  games are played using the vocabulary. As we write more sentences, and  create more little books, our ‘Reading Wall’ grows. 

What is a sentence?

Today’s question for the children was: What is a sentence?  I want my students to use their inquiring minds, so each day we have  questions to answer. The children are exposed to writing, and books everywhere in the classroom.  They looked at books, displays, and shared their ideas with each other.  Looking carefully at sentences ‘around them’, they came up with the following ideas which were shared with the grade.

A sentence says something.

A sentence is made of words.

There are gaps between words.

A sentence  can be read.

A sentence ends with a fullstop dot.

Our New Sentence

Today the children came up with a new sentence for our sentence strip board. Once we have four sentences, a new ‘Language Experience’ book will be made, and sent home to read. Using the children’s collective knowledge they collaborated as a grade to write the following sentence. We copied school’ from the reading wall. It was great to see the children referring to ‘words around the room’ for support.

The children sounded and stretched words long, and said them short. They ‘listened to their own voice as they sounded’, looked at the alphabet tool cards, and shared their ‘thinking aloud’. These are strategies I model everyday. What a wonderful attempt they made at writing the word learn. Once again writing spacers were used to create the gaps between words. These are magnetic spots for the whiteboard.

 Finally the children were given the sentence to trace. Having taught how to write an ‘a’ and ‘o’, I was interested to see how they formed these letters. I use the dotted Victorian script for this activity.

Hope this helps.

Cheers Nina


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Language Experience: Our first class made book, and a recount…

Young children starting their first year of school (Prep in Victoria, Australia)  have big expectations about school, and I don’t want to disappoint them. They want to learn, they want to be able to read, write, and know things about numbers. They want to explore the playground, make a new friend, and feel comfortable in their new environment … and paint a picture.

The philosophy behind the ‘Language Experience Approach’ underpins my teaching at this stage of the year.

What I 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.

The Language Experience Approach is powerful because it contributes to developing a strong oral vocabulary. It is well researched that children with good oral language find the path to literacy easier. All students draw upon their vocabulary when reading and writing no matter what level of schooling they are. 

This week my preps are illustrating and reading their first Language Experience book. This will be taken home, and read as part of my home reading program. The message I give parents is, it’s not glossy, it’s theirs, and it’s an important book. The book is created from sentences we are developing about a common experience, and starting school is the most obvious content choice for our first book. I started exploring Language Experience three years ago, and how I implement this has changed. It’s now about ‘less waff’. Is ‘waff’ a word?

As sentences are created they are written on sentence strips and placed in a sentence strip board. Once four sentences are created, a little book is made. Once the book is made, the sentences are removed from the board and glued to a large sheet of paper, prominently displayed, and read everyday. This strategy works!

Today the children wrote their first journal. They have learnt about using a  writing spacer to use between words. Introducing the writing spacer this early in the year is new for me. They are also using a spacer between each word, instead of using one counter and moving it each time. I think this is a better strategy for this time of the year. Each child also has access to an alphabet sound card, and it was great to see these being used. It’s still early in the year, but have a look at their independent writing – sensational!



What a fantastic start these young writers have made. The last sample reads: I went to my nanas. I hope you enjoy seeing my student’s progress recorded this year. This is their 8th day of formal education!

Cheers Nina


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24 Days of Formal Education Done: What does their writing look like now? Take a look- These are 4 & 5 Year Olds!.

I’ve had some requests from teachers who would like to see some samples of my student’s INDEPENDENT writing. Some are trying to follow my posts to plan their teaching and learning experiences. What a compliment. This is also an opportunity to thank the people who are sharing with me or writing blogs that I visit to inform my teaching and learning. There are so many great blogs to visit and I’m so thankful that these teachers are ‘risk takers’ and take the time to share their practice. I’ve been managing a post a week because this year has been so busy. I can’t remember a year like it! I wonder if others are feeling the same.

My students have now had 24 days of formal education and I’m so proud of their achievements. They are settling well, confident, developing a sense of belonging and fun. It’s a long weekend in Melbourne and these young children will enjoy their break. It’s full time from next week and I’m looking forward to having five days each week with the children.

My students have been immersed in the alphabet (Phonemic Awareness), Concepts of Print, stories, recounts, letter formation, rhyme, Language Experience, collaborative sentence construction, Independent Writing, Talk, Oral Language building and Student Led Interactive Writing. I define my approach as ‘The Interwoven Approach’. It’s like a weave – building on connections. Language Experience is the over arching philosophy in my classroom. Concepts are not introduced separately, there always needs to be a link/connection to prior knowledge. These are the foundation years and I want these students to have a strong foundation to build their future learning on.

When looking closely at each of these writing samples, I can see their understanding of writing growing. Each sample of writing is a recount of an experience. The concept of a sentence is developing, spaces are evident to define words. Full stops are present in some of the samples along with a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. Good attempts at spelling unknown words is evident. Within my Interwoven Approach/ Language Experience clear foci are planned in response to student writing needs. My students are well on their way to becoming competent young writers. They are ‘risk takers’, proud of their work and confident enough to ‘have a go’.

Cheers Nina


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PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing – Differentiation – Preps (First year of formal education in Australia) – Language Experience: 5 days in and we’re composing! Student Led – Of course!

I said in my last post that I’d display a couple of photos of how I’ve set up our learning spaces in the classroom.  Space is tight, but it works.

This area is where we work on our reading and writing skills. Everything I need or the children need is in this space. They are learning quickly that where I sit, they sit in front of me. This allows the children to refocus for new learning experiences. It also gives them the opportunity to move and stretch. My space is limited, but I’ve been able to create these specific learning areas. I highly recommend teachers to try and organise different learnings spaces for the children. There is also a computer hub.   

This is our Big Book, oral language and numeracy area.  The white board is fantastic. The rest of the classroom has tables in groups. There aren’t many displays up as yet because we have only been back at school for a short time.

Our first Student Led Interactive Writing Session.

As a group the children have a collective knowledge of letters, we’ve looked at sentences, know they tell us something, have a capital letter, full stop and can be read.  They capably wrote their names in a colored texta down the side (removed from photo)  of their large poster sheet. We had talked about our experiences at school and as a group we came up with some class sentences for every group to ‘have a go’ at writing. Each child writes a word in the order of their names. Our sentences were, ‘I am at school’ and ‘I am in PD.’  I could hear them discussing the words, stretching them out, looking at the letter chart, working out how to write them and then ‘having a go’. 

The photo above shows the work of one group of students that I watched compose and write the two sentences. Their attempt at writing  ‘school’ is amazing. It will be wonderful watching their journey this year.

I’m using this strategy weekly, as I believe that this strategy combined with explicit teaching accelerates writing development. These children want to be writers!

I haven’t written many posts recently because I’ve been so busy setting up the grade, getting to know children and assessing.

Cheers Nina


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2010 The journey begins for a group of 4&5 Year Olds. Prep- The first formal year of education in the Australian school system begins. Follow our journey!

Yesterday was the very first day of formal education for 21 students in my Prep grade. They arrived with their parents, some grandparents and special others to celebrate the beginning of their 13 year journey (Prep to Year 12). After photos and goodbyes the parents and special others left leaving their most precious little people to start their journey.

Organisation and self management starts day one in our classroom. After settling the children, we talked about how we organise ourselves. Firstly, our belongings. The children produced their full schools bags and were shown where to put their lunch boxes, drink bottles, message bags, library bags and art smocks. They were then given a plain sticker to write their name on in bright colors. This sticker was placed where they will keep their bag. They will name all their books the same way. You will not walk into my classroom and find name tags pre made and placed. My children name all their belongings themselves and learn where they are to keep them. They had a name card to copy from if they were unsure. Most just wrote their name or something like it. It doesn’t matter because they know their sticker.

This morning the children arrived for their second day and promptly started unpacking their bag and placing everything where they were shown. Only one parent started to unpack their child’s bag and quickly stopped when I gently reminded her that her child knew where to put everything. These children are very capable of managing themselves when given the opportunity. The children will also be having an afternoon when they will invite their parents  into the classroom to show how we organise our classroom and how they organise themselves. I have also set up our classroom, which isn’t as big as my room last year with two distinct learning areas for the children to sit. They now know where ever I sit, they sit in front of me. This gives those restless young children an opportunity to move and refocus. This really does work and I’ll include some photos next week. Each area has a different focus and teaching aids ready to use.

Our day started with our reading of Big Books ( I have my favourites ) which involve movement and chant.  We looked at sentences, words and letters. As we are introducing THRASS as a strategy for teaching spelling, I introduced the chart. We started to get to know letter names and the sounds they make in certain words. Connections were being made, new words discovered and engagement was evident. These children are desperate to learn, they want to get going!

I asked a child want they really wanted to try and it was writing and reading. Perfect! We can do that… My teaching approach is Language Experience, so we talked about something we were all doing together and I got the answer I was looking for. They were all at school. I asked for a sentence. One child said, ‘I am at school.’ Once again this was the sentence I wanted. I then asked if anyone knew what an ‘ I ‘ looked like. Hands went up and a child came up to the board and wrote ‘I’. We were off and going strong. I showed them my hand signal for I and now they could read a word. The next word was ‘am’ , we stretched it out, listened to the sounds letters made in this word, looked at our chart, chanted it and had a think about what it might look like. They could tell me the initial sound ‘a’, so once again a child came up and wrote an ‘a’. As the children have had no handwriting lessons I urge them to ‘have a go’ and  write what they think represents the sound. It was interesting to note that the child looked at the THRASS chart. I introduced spaces between words, a capital letter and full stop. It doesn’t matter if they don’t remember, it’s the start and these ‘concepts of print’are explained over and over.

We continued until, as a grade we had written the sentence. Amazing! Their sentence was then put on a sentence strip, cut up and placed in our sentence strip board. This will be the first sentence in our first ‘Language Experience’ little book which will become a ‘take home’ book. We played games with the words which they loved. With technology at my finger tip, I was able to type their sentence for them to trace, copy and illustrate. They really needed some table time to complete a task and enjoy producing something for their ‘I am at school’ poster. Each child read the sentence to me. We’re reading and writing, problem solving and engaged.

‘ poster.

Cheers Nina

P.S Jacinta, if you read this post. I’ll be catching up soon and hope your first week of teaching has been wonderful.


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Lazy Ozzie – Extending writing: Building oral language is crucial to writing development!


My Preps (5&6 year olds) have been using strategies to extend their writing. I read the wonderful story about Lazy Ozzie to them this week. It’s a repetitive text combined with a story. Just perfect for this task. The children were asked to retell the story read to them or write their own Lazy Ozzie story. I’ve been doing this activity since the beginning of the year and I’m thrilled with their efforts. I’m a huge supporter of Language Experience and believe that this approach/philosophy about how children learn has extended the ability of all children. I don’t believe it’s this cohort, as the writing of so many children in my grade is wonderful. Their reading and writing has developed from activities implemented daily which build oral language. Interactive writing, both student led and teacher led has also played a huge role and is one of the main strategies of the Language Experience approach.

Student 1.





Student 2.



Student 3.





Student 4.



I could keep on posting my children’s writing samples because they are wonderful.  If you have time read my previous posts from the beginning of the year and you’ll see how their writing has developed and the scaffolding strategies used a long the way. 

Cheers Nina 

P.S  I also am amazed that editing has become a natural part of the writing process for many of my students.


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It’s not ‘glossy’, but it’s theirs… Language Experience ‘Big Books’ and ‘little books’!

Today Jacinta ( 4th year university teaching student ) took her Interactive Writing lesson to the next level. She made a ‘little book’ from their writing to be used in reading groups and for home reading. This time pictures were provided to support the student’s text. The children are still illustrating their ‘little book’  about our scientist visit where ‘pictures supporting text’ was a focus.

To support the children Jacinta made their little book into a ‘Big Book’ for big book reading.  Constructing a book from their writing reinforces the concept that writing is ‘talk’ written down.

Language Experience

‘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.’




Cheer Nina

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Language Experience Powerpoint- The Why? What? and How? of Language Experience!

NB: I’ve corrected the spelling mistake on slide 9!  Any others?  

This is my slideshow for a presentation I am giving focusing on Language Experience. A few slides have lost their clarity and I have had to substitute a number of photos for privacy reasons. After I’ve completed my presentation I’ll explain some of these slides via this blog. I’ve broken my presentation in to 3 distinct areas. The ‘why?’ is first, followed by the ‘what?’ and then most importantly I’ll be expalining my practice in the’how?’. As teachers, we get a lot of the ‘why?’ and ‘what?’, however, it’s the ‘how?’ which is often not explained and crucial to embedding new practice. Hopefully my presentation will address all three. The ‘how?’ has meant I’ve had to define my practice which is quite challenging. Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

Cheers Nina

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Interactive Writing – Here I go again!

S5005922As I write my student’s reports I can’t help but reflect upon my teaching and my student’s learning. What can I do better and what is going well? My blog helps me to reflect on, and improve my practice.

Interactive Writing As A Whole Class Student Led Writing / Reading Strategy

Why do I keep writing about this strategy? My experience tells me that Interactive Writing as a teacher led small group instruction method is great, but whole class-student led Interactive Writing is powerful in terms of student learning.

 What I hear is as important as what I see. The conversations the children engage in while writing are fascinating. They understand the concept of prompting, not answering. They see that personal achievement and pride comes from ‘having a go’ and letting others have ‘a go’. Editing their writing becomes a natural progression of learning conversations. Celebrating each other’s efforts at the time of writing and during share time is a natural part of discussion. Cooperation and organisation is intrinsic to success, coupled with participation. Less confident writers are supported and active participants. Not bad for 5 and 6 year old children!

So what have I learnt from watching and listening?

Having decided to write about our excursion (a shared experience) we discussed what a sentence is and the simple grammar we would need to use. Then as a class we came up with a sentence. Sometimes I give a ‘freebie’ word, but on this occasion I didn’t. A ‘freebie’ word/s is negotiated with the grade e.g. they might choose Immigration Museum. The sentence the children came up with was, ‘We went to the museum on a bus.’

N.B – All groups are writing the same class formed sentence. This will be extended to personal group formed writing at the beginning of next term.

Their writing informs my teaching!

What I see and hear tells me:

    • Connection between speech and writing is developing
    • Writing conveys ideas / information
    • All can read back what they have written
    • Taught letter formations are transferring over to writing
    • Understanding of spaces between words needs developing
    • Conventional letters and groups of letters are being used
    • Simple punctuation- use of full stops & capital letters
    • Drawings support the text
    • Letter/ sound knowledge is developing well
    • Spelling of frequently written words is developing well
    • Most words of one syllable and regular spelling are spelt correctly
    • Is using phonological processes when recall isn’t automatic
    • Says the word to identify the sequence of sounds and letters as a strategy
    • Attempts to spell unfamiliar words (museum)
    • Relying heavily on letter-sound relationships





Please read my previous posts about Interactive Writing. The writing development is evident. Cheers Nina


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