Writing to Read in Kindergarten Part II: Environment • Rubrics • News Stories

The Center of the Classroom is an Inviting Library

Reading teaches and informs writing and writing teaches reading

Engagement with delightful and informative
literature provides the foundation for building strong writers and readers. Research consistently supports positive literacy gains from access to extensive libraries.

"The library needs to be the most enticing area of the room." Regie Routman from Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to Teach Reading Well

A soft cozy couch invites children to curl up and read. Current read-alouds are displayed on shelving created from rain gutters.
Books are stored thematically in tubs with both fiction and nonfiction together. Each tub is labeled and matching picture labels are placed on the front of each book in that category. This makes it easy to locate books of interest and to put books away. Kinders also learn voracious vocabulary words like amphibians and reptiles.
On-Going Authentic Assessment Involves “Kid Writers” and Their Parents
Children draw and write daily in their journals. They continue to use their "kid writing" for real purposes throughout the curriculum: making class books, doing a study, writing notes, making labels for their block building, etc.
Kindergarten writing rubrics were developed by Julie Lay and her colleagues as a broader picture of writing progress. These are shared with parents during fall conferences while looking at their child's journal writing pages. Parents are asked to assess where their child is as a writer. For most kinders, the goal is level 3 or 4 by the end of the year. When parents understand the writing process, they are happy to support "kid writing" at home.

Reinforce the writing habit — chant:
"Writing is fun, writing is fun.
Writing is fun for everyone.
The more you write,
The better you write.
So write, write, write!"

The Kindergarten Star Chart allows Julie to keep track of the skills children are demonstrating during journal writing. This authentic assessment motivates the "kid writers" and informs Julie's teaching. A star is made by all of the skills the child is using. There is a separate star chart for fall and spring writing goals.
Download a copy of Julie’s Kindergarten Star Charts
Creating News Stories Motivates Young Writers
Children grab a clipboard and select a news story template page. Do they want to share: Family News, Good News, Bad/Sad News, T.V. and Movie News?
Kindergarten newspaper writers think about something new or exciting in their personal or family life. A lost tooth? A birthday?
News stories are posted for others to read. This clever display idea was adapted from the Kid Writing website, www.kidwriting.com.
Writing Questions Enhances Comprehension Skills
Asking questions is a powerful strategy for building comprehension and thinking skills. We ask young writers to think, question, draw and write!
We begin our study by reading The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. "What made the ladybug so grouchy?" Children illustrate, dictate and discuss their responses.
Because somebody teased him.
He wanted someone to fight.
Not enough sleep. Wife woke him
up too early.
What are Your Questions About Ladybugs?
One focus lesson was to read and research information about ladybugs. Children illustrated and wrote their questions on post-it notes. Writing and art are complimentary thinking and communicating systems.
Do aphids taste bad?
I wonder if ladybugs chew?
How many spots do they have?

For additional information see the following articles and resources: