Tuesday, April 24, 2012

But what about writing?

When chatting with some colleagues about play based learning and children's writing, the question always comes up..."what about writers workshop?" There are books upon books about how effective writers workshop is and I will not say that it is not. But I challenge them to think deeper about what students need to learn, is a whole group ever the most effective way to reach all of the students?

What I will say is that in Kindergarten with children who come from a variety of developmental stages managing a writers workshop and ensuring that all children are engaged, focused, and having their needs met in my eyes is next to impossible.

So, how do you ever write with ALL of the students? Well the answer is not simple or cut and dry. However, we have found so genuine many ways to bring writing into project work, into learning centres, and most definitely incorporated into children's interests.

Today my principal brought in Angry Bird stickers. She was in our room previously and saw that many children were interested in Angry Birds - they created helmets, pictures, stories and even games.

When I excitedly shared the stickers with the students, we decided they must use them to tell a story! I was so excited to pull in many of the students that needed support in writing, who normally are uninterested in writing.

When writing with one child, I noticed that he was really struggling in understanding that words can be made up for more than 1-2 sounds. We stretched the words out together and in the third panel of his story we used lines to record the words. This really helped him to see that each word was separately made up of letters and sounds that he was familiar with. He had an A-HA moment that I don't think would have been possible in a large group.

Was this writing opportunity planned? No. Did it need to be? In a small group I feel so empowered to help the children individually and to support them with what THEY need to further their writing. 

But what about report cards? What richer information could you ask for when writing a report card? In 20 minutes, I learned so much about where these children were in their stage of writing as well as the next steps they need to improve.


  1. Wow ! Beautiful blog, keep sharing Tracy you are inspiring all of us!

  2. Tracy,
    I just found your blog and wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying reading! I too have given up the traditional writer's workshop this year (in favour of a more child-centered and play-based approach). I have found that my children are doing just as much (if not more!) writing than ever. The bonus is that the writing they do now is authentic and differentiated! I was wondering if you would be willing to share the typical "flow of the day" in your classroom. Thank you again for sharing!