Over last semester we have been focusing on writing fictional narratives. Using the First Steps Gradual Release of Responsibility, over time the children have become familiar with and analyzed a wide range of narrative fictions. They have co-authored fictional narratives and with guidance, have written their own narratives.
We have spent much time discussing where writers get their ideas and we have started a class “writers’ notebook” where we keep good writing ideas.
We are working on an ongoing process of writing. By now, the children have all published several books, both fiction and non- fiction.
The children chose some of their published books to share with the children in the ELC. It was a wet, soggy day but the children were excited and enthusiastic and not at all put off by the rain!
At our reflection meeting, children from ELC and KC said they enjoyed the exchange and asked if we could do something else together. At our class meeting, we shall discuss possible next steps.
Through the class blog and twitter account, KC have found friends in other schools around the world. We have got several other Kindergarten classes on our blog roll, and they in turn have added us to their blog roll. Several times a week we check the other blogs and leave comments. We also check our blog for comments left by others. We are following classes from schools in other countries on our class twitter account and have got followers from other schools and from the YIS community. We regularly respond to questions on twitter and tweet our own questions to find answers from “experts” in other countries.
Writing blog comments and tweets has provided the children with meaningful opportunities to write for an authentic audience. They are highly motivated to interact with the children from other classes. They have a myriad of questions and wonderings. Often, a post on someone else’s bog will excite the children and inspire an idea for our class. The children are intrigued about a video that one class is making on counting from 100 to 1 and have asked that class to share the link to their video. They want to know if another class has Autumn right now and how other children celebrated Halloween. They are interested in a survey another class did on how children come to school and they want to conduct a similar survey in our class, and share the results with the other school, to compare how children come to school in different countries.
Using the data projector, we project the blog or twitter page on to the wall so that everyone can see. I type as the children dictate. The children observe as I think out loud, modeling how writers revise and edit the text. The children offer suggestions on how to make to a comment better. They notice when I leave out fullstops and instruct me on when I need to use upper-case letters. Together, we think about our audience. We discuss word choices and wonder how to help our readers form a clear picture in their mind. We add details so our readers will understand us better.
We also talk about how our comments will be interpreted, and discuss our responsibility when we interact with others over the World Wide Web. These five and six year olds are learning to be thoughtful and responsible digital communicators. Digital citizenship starts in Kindergarten!
The children love to take turns at reading stories to the rest of the class. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop a sense of audience and to practice skills such as pause, voice pace and inflection. Recently, Olivia read a book that she had particularly enjoyed. We videoed the story session and showed the video to the children. I was keen to try out a new reflection tool that I had learned from Mr Geddes which involved speeding up a video clip. I tested this new technique on the clip of Olivia’s story time The children loved the speeded-up version and asked for both videos to be posted on the blog.
Stories can be a powerful way of helping children to understand the world around them. I asked our librarian, Mrs Kar, if she could recommend some picture books that I could use to help the children explore the concept of learning journeys. She found several books, and I chose “Clem Always Could” by Sarah Watt.
The story is about a boy called Clem who thinks he could always do the things he can do now. When, one day, he has to learn something new, he is worried about what will happen. I read the book several times, so the children were familiar with the story and had time to think about it. Then we talked about the story and thought about the big idea that the author wanted to communicate.
I asked the children to think about a time in their own lives when they had to learn something new, and to show their thoughts on paper. Recently we have been talking about the techniques that illustrators use to help their readers get a clear picture. I reminded the children of some of these techniques and the children got to work. Once the illustrations were finished, we photographed them and put them in a VoiceThread. Over the next week, the children will add voice comments to their photographs. The children have made several VoiceThreads before and are beginning to understand how VoiceThread can be used as a tool for sharing and collaborating with a wider audience.
It would be wonderful if others could add their comments to the photographs, particularly family members or friends who might remember the events described in the illustrations. It is the possibilities for involving others through voice comments that makes VoiceThread such a powerful tool.
Our Author for October is Joy Cowley. Cowley writes fun books with repetitive texts and clear illustrations, which make them ideal for early readers. Over the years she has be given several honours and awards for her stories.
The children have been reading about Mrs Wishy Washy, Meanies, Hungry Giants, Hairy Bears and Jigarees. Through these books, the children are developing their reading readiness skills and are building their bank of sight words.
The children would love to share some of the their favourite Joy Cowley books with you. We shall be posting story time video clips throughout the month of October so that you can join in our author study where ever you are.
Meanwhile, here is a story read by Joy Cowley herself!
You can find more stories by Joy Cowley on YouTube.
The children have been comparing different writing systems in Japanese and English. We have been talking about the difference between alphabets like the English (Roman) alphabet, katakana and hiragana, and symbol/concept based writing systems such as kanji.
We went on a hunt around YIS to search for Japanese writing. The children discovered many different kinds of alphabets, symbols and pictures. We took photographs. Over the next week we will be discussing the photographs and the children will record their comments on the VoiceThread below. Please feel free to add your own comments to the VoiceThread. Your children can teach you how to do this.
You can help your children to make connections to their Mother Tongue or other languages by discussing writing systems used in your family.