In 2014, I was given the opportunity to complete a Fellowship project under the guidance of Angela Stockman. I’m currently writing a paper summarizing what I’ve learnt. Initially my project started with a simple question:
What are the key ‘bump up’ indicators which should be on a student continuum?
Sounds simple! Well, that’s an understatement… I decided to start by looking at the continuums we have in place at my school, which are based on Fountas and Pinnell. How could I make these usable for my young writers? Then I started asking my young writers…
Photo: This student was in their second year of schooling in Australia (Year 1). The student is in control of all aspects of their writing from the beginning. I presented the topic for this piece of writing but that’s it. I’m teaching this student again this year and many others, and I’m wondering what their writing will be like at the end of this year.
My project changed many times after exploring current research, speaking to other educators and most importantly my students. How could I nail down a topic or could I? The very action of looking at my student’s writing and speaking to individual students about what helps them to be the best learners and writers has guided my project. My paper will finish with a list of recommendations largely created by six, seven and eight year old students and I’ll share those here.
My students have been learning how to write a description using the PM Writing Big Book genre format. Focusing on making a plan with key words and ideas supported my Preps to maintain a content structure.
Their first attempt involved choosing something personal and familiar to them. They then drew a diagram/picture and labelled key parts and used key words which would support them when writing their text. This was their first attempt and therefore a baseline assessment.
Having completed their own attempt I planned to share making a description plan with my students. We chose Sharks and used pictures and diagrams to locate the vocabulary they would need. Each student completed their own copy of the shark description plan.
Today my students used their plans to write a descriptive piece about sharks. Constructing a good quality plan scaffolds student’s writing and enablesthem to write an expanded quality text.
The final weeks of term two and semester one for 2012 were busy. Reports, Three Way Conferences and portfolios added to teaching and other responsibilities made the run to the holidays a marathon. Time to post here has been rare so it’s great to be able to share some student writing completed in the the final week of term two by my Prep grade.
Herbert and Harry by Pamela Allen: Independent Book Response
Above Text: Herbert and Harry found treasure and they were brothers.
Above Text: Herbert and Harry are brothers. One day they found treasure.
Above Text: Herbert and Harry found treasure and they were brothers.
Final Recount: Term 2 for inclusion in student portfolios.
These are random samples of independent writing. It’s great to see my students using a title, content and final personal comment without prompting. Using PM Writing Exemplars provides the scaffold my young writers require.
My Preps (5&6 year olds) are in their final week of Term 3. It’s wonderful to be their first school teacher, and I’m enjoying their enthusiasm for learning combined with their sense of fun. They love to dance, sing and create, and Friday afternoon is their special time when I’m the DJ and they, including their parents supply the weekly music. They’re an active and industrious group of young learners.
The random examples of independent Recount writing contained in this post displays their understanding of the Recount structure. I’m using the PM Writing Big Book exemplars and structure to scaffold writing development.
Extending my Prep’s writing is a focus and relates to our current inquiry. The children realise that their journal is a record of their personal history. They understand that detail in their journal will provide a better record of their experiences when they read their journal in future years.
I’ve included pictures of our WALT – ‘we are learning to’ and WILF – ‘what I’m looking for’ our success criteria. These are wiped and changed for different tasks. I’m very pleased with my Prep’s writing development, particularly their use and interest in punctuation and detail.
The PM Exemplars for Teaching Writing (Big Books) underpin my writing program. I use these exemplars to support and scaffold my student’s composition development. Young writers need structure when extending their written texts. My student’s often hear me say, ‘tell me more’. I’m very
pleased with my student’s writing and reading development, but most importantly I enjoy their enthusiasm for learning. The samples displayed within this post are examples of independent recount writing.
I’ve received a number of emails requesting writing samples from the beginning of this term. Using a recount exemplar ( PM Writing ) to scaffold my student’s writing development is enabling these young writers to develop text control while composing. My students have been extending their writing to include sequence and detail. The writing samples displayed in this post are examples of independent unassisted writing.
Journals are a record of each student’s personal history. They understand that when they read their writing back in years to come they will want to remember as many details as possible about the things they did or achieved.
This also relates to our current inquiry into personal histories. We plan our inquiries using the format of the International Baccalaureate – Primary Years Programme.
Where we are in place and time
An inquiry into orientation in place and time, personal histories, homes and journeys, the discoveries, explorations, and migrations of humankind, the
relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations from local and global perspectives.
Personal Histories Reflect Traditions & Culture
How do we know? Reflect on culture by examining the personal histories of self and others.
Exploring the changes in people’s lives due to changes in time and place
Celebrate and accept cultural differences, via the sharing of personal histories
What lines of inquiry will define the scope of the inquiry into the central idea?
Exploring personal histories enriches our intercultural understanding.
- Personal histories are recorded in different ways, depending on time on place.
- Personal histories allow us to reflect on and celebrate, who we are and where we have come from
What teacher questions/provocations will drive these inquiries?
How does our exploration of personal histories enrich our understanding of different cultures?
How have personal histories been recorded in different times and places?
How do personal histories reflect different cultures and traditions?
I’ve written this post for the teachers new to Prep who have asked me for support, and I’m always happy to do this. I always stress that I’m still a learner as well. I learn from others, professional reading and my students. It’s day 12 of formal education for my Australian Prep students, and I’m amazed by their ‘have a go’ attutude. They are certainly displaying the IB – PYP Learner Profile – Risk Taker. Today I was amazed by their use of strategies, looking around the room, sounding long, saying short, prompting each other, referring to the alphabet tool cards and ‘thinking aloud’.
Today I modelled my own journal, using taught strategies, and ‘thinking aloud’. I asked my students for help, played ‘Hangman’ (without the picture) for some words to identify a missing letter / sounds, and referred to our tool cards. I used spacers, and talked about capital letters. Our next inquiry will be: What is a capital letter? After writing my journal, I removed it. I want my students to write independently. To introduce the ‘concepts of print’, I constantly refer to the PM Emergent Writing Exemplar Big Books.
Day 12 Journal Samples:
I’m using the PM Emergent Writng Exemplar Big Books to introduce initial concepts, but I’ll move on to PM Writing Book 1 later in the year & PM Writing 1+ for extension.
Our next writing session will be PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing. This is the strategy which I believe best supports young writers, and is perfect for older students. There is no doubt in my mind that collaborative writing, where children use their collective knowledege to support each other makes a significant difference to student learning outcomes.