During their time in Kindergarten the children focus on two writing text forms; personal recount and narrative fiction. Personal recounts are particularly accessible to young children and are a good place to start at the beginning of the year. The children start by recounting their personal experiences through illustrations. As they develop an understanding of the relationships between sounds and letters the children are encouraged to label their illustrations and gradually move to writing sentences.
By the second semester the children are becoming increasingly confident and competent writers. We introduce narrative fiction as a text form. Through a class inquiry into fictional narratives the children develop a list of characteristics to help them define what a narrative fiction is:
- It’s about something not real, from your imagination (but you could get your ideas from things that really happened to you).
- There is a setting. The story happens in a place and at a time. The story can move between places and times.
- There are characters and some of the characters are more important than the others. They are called main characters
- Authors usually introduce the setting and the main characters at the beginning so that the reader can understand the story.
- There is a problem and a solution (and maybe another problem and solution, and an another…)
- The solution can be happy or sad
We introduce writers’ techniques such as zooming in on small moments, including details to help the reader form a picture in their mind, thinking carefully about word choices. We begin to introduce the children to the vocabulary (nouns, adjectives, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation) that will help them talk critically about the writing process. By this stage in the year, many of the children are prolific writers. They understand that writing is a process that involves several stages and that not every piece of writing goes through every stage. They have written many different fictional and non fictional works and have taken several through to the publishing stage.
The KC Story-tellers’ wiki is a place where the children can type their work in the knowledge that they access the wiki from any computer (unlike Pages or Word, which is saved on the desk top of a particular computer). Now that the children are writing independently, they can revisit their writing from home whenever they wish. We have talked about how, for most children, it is easier to be creative when working with paper and pencil, but how typing is easier for revising and editing. The children are making conscious decisions about when to use their writing books and when to type onto the wiki. The children know that other people can read their stories also and are excited to see who will collaborate with them.
Today we had a discussion about why it is we can access the wiki from home, but not work typed on a Pages doc. Several children made connections to the collaborative Google doc we have worked on with KinderPals in Canada. I am interested to explore this idea over the next days with the children and to find out more about how they visualise web 2.0 tools and the ‘cloud’.