Tag Archives: young beginning writers

Steve Peha: Be a Better Writer – When are you coming to Australia Steve?


I’ve been incorporating Steve Peha’s writing strategies into my writing teaching for many years. I don’t have a huge amount of Facebook friends but I’m pleased Steve is one of them! You’ll find some amazing support here… Also when Angela Stockman recognises a literacy leader, I listen! Another Facebook friend! ūüôā


Cheers Nina


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Loving these: Can’t wait to get my hands on them… PM Sounds In Words

The PM Sounds in Words – will love using these…

The PM Sounds in Words series explores phonological awareness in a meaningful context, in a PM context. It enables children to become aware of the sounds made by many regular letter patterns that can be found in high frequency and interest words. The series enables children to hear the sounds, say the sounds, read the sounds and write the sounds. There are four PM Sounds in Words sets; each set comprises 10 Little Books and 1 Big Book with IWB software. Cengage – Nelson

We’ve recently purchased a set of the PM Sounds in Words Big Books and I’m looking forward to using them to support my classroom program. I’m a huge fan of PM and have written many times about the PM Writing Genre Big Books. I’ll be writing about how I use these in my classroom in future posts. If you’re looking for further information contact Christine Manns christinemanns.nelsonsales@cengage.com¬†for expert advice.

Cheers Nina

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Comprehension: A 4 Part Diorama – Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood

One of our Prep classrooms was working on comprehension dioramas and I knew I had to make these with my students. The children have been engaged in narratives and are loving this task. Young children need to be able to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways and having opportunities to create is important. Writing a narrative is our genre focus along with comprehension.

The narrative has a beginning, middle, end, problem and resolution. Using a fairy tale works well beacause the children are familiar with the story and this is important. They were read two stories and were able to choose which story they liked best.

The first task was to complete a story map. The map is used by students to guide their diorama. The children will use their diorama to retell the fairy tale to a peer and then to the grade. Identifying the problem and resolution will help my students format and write their own simple narratives.

Cheers Nina


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Prep (5&6 Year Olds) Authentic Writing: Father’s Day 2012

My students have made beautiful Father’s Day cards. It was interesting¬†to read that¬†many of my students wrote that they love it when dad reads to them. We had not discussed this as a grade. I hope the fathers enjoy their cards and realise the effort each child made to make their card beautiful.

Above: The front of our cards…

Above: The inside of our cards…

Cheers Nina

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International Baccalaureate IB – PYP: Inquiry – Toy Story / Toy Expo / Toy Expo Recount (Partner Writing) 5&6 Year Olds

For¬†visitors who have been reading my recent posts on our¬† inquiry Toy Story I’ve included photos of the Prep Toy Expo 2012. Once again this was a wonderful experience for our Prep students. The expo gives our students the opportunity to talk, explain and display their design brief and model. The whole school supports this event with parents and community members attending. It also provides a common experience for my students to write about.

Partner writing is collaborative, involves student talk¬†and talking together about a piece of writing¬†¬†assists my students to create a logical sequential structured piece of writing. The saying ‘two heads is better than one’ is certainly true. As I roam I can hear¬† children verbalising their experiences and jointly constructing a¬†written text. This age group need support to think a piece of writing through and verbalising their ideas first is ideal. I’m often heard saying, ‘tell me more’.

Cheers Nina

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Hand over the control! PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: June 2012 – (5&6 Year Olds)

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing sessions enable me to roam, listen to conversations and question my student’s understanding of concepts and skills. I’m able to question individuals and groups about the strategies they are using to compose their text. Their feedback is enlightening and I’m always surprised by how well they articulate what they are doing, the strategies they are using and their collective knowledge of punctuation and composition is evident. I’m always looking for the transfer of explicit teaching foci.

Recently my students took their parents on a Student Led Tour of their learning and we decided to write about the tour.

I’ve written about this strategy numerous times in my blog. To read more simply type PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing in the search box. I firmly believe this strategy scaffolds, supports and accelerates my student’s writing.

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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A 5 turned 6 Year old’s journey into written literacy: One child mapped for a year…

I’ve decided to map the writing development of one child in my class¬†for a year. It’s interesting to look back and see the learning leaps made throughout the year. ¬†What moved this child forward? What made this child’s writing accelerate¬†or slow down? Take a look and see if you agree with my comments. The children have been looking through their books and are amazed at what they now know.¬†I’ve said many times in¬†my blog- Language Experience, Interactive Writing: teacher and student led combined with a clear explicit planned¬†teaching focus¬†have made the difference.

I’ve briefly annotated this child’s journey below.

Below: This is the first piece of writing and what a great place to for this student to start.¬†This child has begun to¬†draw¬†some¬†¬†shapes and was able to talk about the picture. This is imitating writing. There are what looks like some strings of letters and a picture which isn’t shown. The child knows that writing is written down and has been a real risk taker by having a go. This is certainly¬†something to celebrate.

Below: This student is now using some letters which match sounds. Sometimes whole words are represented by the first letter. Common sight words can be seen and this child was able to read back there writing at the time of writing.

Below: This student is now beginning  to write words with beginning and end sounds in place. Some high frequency words are spelt correctly. Vowels can be seen in words, but they are not always the correct ones.  There is a mix of lower and upper case letters evident, however, I can clearly see words and can read this sentence quite easily. The concept of a sentence having a capital letter and full stop is not yet in place.

Below:¬†This student is now writing words the way they sound. The student‚Äôs known sight vocabulary is developing and this is evident in this writing sample. The concept of writing from left to write is not in place. There is still a mix of capital and lower¬†case letters¬†evident. This child’s phoneme knowledge is developing well. Strategies such as stretching out words are being used well.

Below:¬†Spaces and the concept of left to right is not in place, however, this student is well on the way to becoming a capable¬†beginning writer. There are some¬†wonderful attempts at spelling unknown words¬†i.e. party and weekend. Fullstops and capital letters still need to transfer to this child’s writing from explicit teaching sessions. Using Interactive Writing sessions is a great time to focus on these progression points.


Below:¬†This student is beginning to leave spaces between words and is spelling ¬†many high frequency words correctly. Capital letters and full stops are not evident yet. Left to right is developing well and the correct¬†use of upper case letters and lower case letters is developing. I can easily read this child’s writing and the student is able to read their writing at the time of writing and at a later time.

Below: This student is now using simple punctuation marks. More than one sentence is written, however, left to right recording is not established when composing a longer text. This writing piece includes lots of information and can be read back at the time of writing. Written literacy skills are developing well. I have found that writing control lessens when children start composing extended recounts. The task of writing down their thoughts overtakes their attention to detail. Full stops are evident and this student is totally engaged in the writing process.

Below: The student’s writing has refined again. Left to right recording is evident. Spaces are developing,¬†although this is hampered by large letter formations. Capital letters and full stops are being used correctly. Vowel sounds are being used correctly, ‘sh’ is established, some capitals letters are inserted incorrectly and the magic ‘e’ is known. This student’s¬†writing displays the transfer of explicit teaching into text. The student now displays control when composing a longer text.

Below: Using a simple plan to scaffold sequencing has been introduced. Good attempts at spelling unknown words are being made, spaces are used correctly between words as well as simple punctuation. This student’s writing is developing well. Content is relevant to the plan. Letter formation is developing well and letters are placed on lines.

Below: The writing below has been sequenced well and follows the simple recount planner developed with the children. Capital letters are evident, letter formation is developing well and self corrections are made. This is an impressive piece of writing for such a young child.

Below:¬†This child can spell most words correctly,¬†however, ¬†phonetic¬† spelling is still being used for more complex vocabulary.¬†¬†Punctuation marks are being used correctly most of the time. Capital letters and lower case letters are in the correct place. This child is writing two to three pages of¬†reasonably well sequenced writing. The child is still representing the word I as (i). Sometimes I just have to wait for the transfer¬†of explicit teaching into a student’s writing. It’s better to wait, rather than push¬†a teaching point. ‘Going deep’ and ensuring new learning is connected to prior understanding is¬†crucial for young writers.¬†I want the transfer of explicit progression points to be meaningful for the child. I also want the student to be able to articulate their learning.

Below: The student is now reviewing their writing after the draft stage. A checklist developed by the children after looking extensively at good writing samples is being used to check and change their writing. Endings such as ‘ed’ need to be taught explicitly. Using a checklist developed by students is a great writing scaffold tool, but it must be developed after a student inquiry into what good writing looks like and needs.

Below:¬†The editing checklist is now a natural part of the writing process. In fact, the concept of writing as a process in now embedded. The use of a small (i) for the word ‘I’¬†is a common error across the grade¬†¬†and was dealt¬†with in a number of¬†explicit teaching focus sessions. The use of ‘ing’ is evident and sentences are informative and well-formed. The child continues to write 3-4 pages and loving being an author. This child has now developed a passion for writing and that’s special!

Below:¬†Joining words were introduced in a series of¬†explicit teaching sessions and are being used, although not correctly. Exclamation marks or ‘yelling marks’ have been used to place emphasis.¬†Common sight words are spelt correctly most of the¬†time¬†with some more complex words spelt correctly. The use of ‘sh’ to¬†represent the final sound in a word is now being used correctly. ‘Th’ is established and used at the beginning of words. The student is now building their knowledge and¬†skills quickly. New knowledge and old knowledge combine to form new understandings at a rapid rate. Guided Writing is a great strategy to use with this student at this stage to address individual learning needs.


Below: Writing is progressing well and explicit teaching is transferring to writing. The child is now able to direct their learning needs and will be asked to present ideas for a focus session.

Below: This child’s letter formation is developing well, with letters being placed on the line. The word ‘and’ is still used as a joining word incorrectly at times, but overall this student has made wonderful progress. The letter ‘p’ needs to sit properly on the line and this will be dealt with formerly with all students.

I am very pleased with this child’s writing development. I can see¬†many teaching points which¬†I will need to include next week in explicit teaching sessions. We’ll be looking at joining words again because the use of joining words isn’t embedded in this child’s practice. A number of students are using joining words correctly within their complex sentences.

Guided Writing addressing individual needs is my strategy of choice. There are four weeks left for this child in my grade and then this student’s first year of formal learning in Australia will be complete.¬†Using the strategies outlined in this post/blog¬†in a¬†Language Experience classroom¬†enables children to¬†engage in authentic and meaningful learning.¬†Building oral language is also crucial to writing and reading. Children need to be constantly introduced to new vocabulary. Extensive research tells us that students with poor oral language find the journey into literacy a lot tougher.

I’ll be adding more to this post from time to time as I reflect on my teaching and learning.¬† There are so many areas I need to review in terms of my teaching, but it’s this very aspect of teaching that keeps me enthused and motivated.

Cheers Nina


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