Best Practices for Emergent Writing

Writer's Workshop in a Kindergarten Classroom

Is it as easy as A, B, C?

Jack asked how scientists knew so much, and Penny explained, "They go to college, just like kindergarten teachers go to college to learn how to teach writing."

Jack expressed amazement that kindergarten teachers go to college to develop such knowledge. "How hard is that?" he asked. "The first letter is A, the next letter is B, the next letter is C!" (Gentry, 2005, p. 133)

What does the literature say?

  • language rich environment
  • teacher acts as reader and writer role model
  • writing should be a daily part of students' classroom lives
  • teaching block: modeling and mini-lessons
  • writing block: independent writing
  • functional, real world writing tasks
  • one-on-one conferencing: provide individualized instruction while assessing
  • scaffolding techniques: private speech and materialization
  • writing is an individual AND social act
  • sharing block: read to a real audience

What does it look like in a kindergarten classroom?

  • no teaching block or mini-lessons
  • beginning of the year: modeling and brainstorming together
  • lights out and find a good place to write
  • no one is forced to write
  • one-on-one conferencing takes place of mini-lessons
  • noise is okay
  • sharing: works in progress, plans, or completed stories
  • "2 likes and 1 wish"

Phases in Learning to Read

  1. Pre-Alphabetic: pretend-read, visual and contextual clues
  2. Partial Alphabetic: Letter names, sounds, some phonemic awareness, cannot decode
  3. Full Alphabetic: segmentation and blending skills, begin decoding
  4. Consolidated Alphabetic: Forms connections of larger spelling patterns

Gentry's Writing Scale

  1. Non-alphabetic writing: approximations, no letters
  2. Stage 1: letters, but no matches to sound
  3. Stage 2: letters with partial phonetic representations
  4. Stage 3: full phonetic representations, connecting each sound to a printed letter
  5. Stage 4: writing with sophisticated phonics patterns

Looking at Kindergarten Writing