Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summertime Shenanigans

I love Summer.  I will admit, my favorite thing is not to have to set the alarm for ten weeks-- I feel so lazy rested!  I also love having time to read for pleasure, run errands at non-peak hours, and do fun things with my family.  But after a few weeks..... well I start to get the "itch" to do something teacher-like.  So I usually embark on some sort of "project" for re-vamping my routines for the coming school year. 

This summer I've decided to focus on my writing program.  I love to teach writing, though it is challenging in Kindergarten with such a wide range of abilities and so many children with little to no prior writing experience.  But we have to do it, right?  So we should do it well.

A few summers ago I read the following book:

This is a great guide to implementing the process of Writers' Workshop in the primary grades.  I loved this book and often refer to it when I need a fresh lesson idea.  There are several suggested lessons using mentor texts, which is a wonderful strategy with little ones who love to mimic their favorite authors and well-known stories.  I follow this model for Writers' Workshop in my classroom for the most part, with a few modifications-- which we all know are a part of the process in every classroom every year with each different group of kids! 

So, along the same lines, this summer I am tackling another book on writing.  This one focuses purely on using mentor texts.

This is not the kind of writing we can do at the beginning of Kindergarten, of course.  I like to start with the basics of Writers' Workshop: learning to focus for a defined period of time, brainstorming and planning, drawing a detailed picture, putting ideas on paper, etc.  For many children, the basic mechanics of writing (holding a pencil and making it move so as to form letters and words!) take a great deal of time and effort.  But eventually, everyone can write something and then we can move into more intricate pieces of the writing puzzle.  Even those who are not ready to begin writing in the style of a particular mentor text certainly benefit from participating in the process and seeing it modeled for them by the teacher and their peers. 

So I am working through this text and will share more as I read!

I hope whatever you're doing to wile away the June days is relaxing and enjoyable.  We are so lucky to have time to reboot after a stressful school year.  There is nothing else quite like teaching, is there?  (Zookeeping maybe.)

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