Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Writing Center

The "official" reason I take time to run a writing center in kindergarten is to give students the opportunity to witness firsthand how writing works. Students come to the circular table and dictate a story. I stretch out their words and write them down, occasionally underlining the Soundabet sounds as they come up. For example, if you click in to get a closer look at Hailey's story, you will see that I underlined /th/ in "with," the /sh/ in "she," and the /ar/ in "part." My intention is that students will see how writing works and then venture to try some writing on their own. If your child begins to write, praise their efforts! And, please, generously overlook spelling errors. It takes courage to write!

A more important reason for having a writing center is to listen closely enough to show I care. Stories of significance sometimes arise in these sessions. Hailey's tale here relates the death of her first hamster, Popcorn. Writing in kindergarten is an occasion for connecting, not simply a dessicated exercise in learning the mechanics of writing.

If you think about it, connecting is the reason to write in the first place.


Gail Jonas said...

This is a collective comment about all your posts up to and including this one:

I hope there are many more people like you teaching.

While the stock market tanks (down 300 points today), I can see that you are investing in our children. Perhaps you've invested in the stock market, too, but at least you haven't put all your investment eggs in one basket!

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

My investment portfolio is modest, believe me. I don't hold any stock.

You raise an interesting point. My three best my college friends (Silicon Valley software engineer, Manhattan investment banker, Manhattan corporate attorney) all retired a decade ago.

Retirement's barely on the horizon for me, especially money wise. But I wouldn't trade places with any of them.

True, I don't have money. My best friend's children are each far wealthier than me.

But when I was in college I realized that money ain't meaning. I stuck with teaching even though it doesn't pay. Money is a poor substitute for significance.

Anonymous said...

Just a First year teacher and WOW, is this amazing to read. I am having a tough time getting my children to write and I think that it is the motivation that is lacking on my part.

Dan Gurney said...

Anonymous, please be kind to yourself. If you model enthusiasm about writing, you'll infect your students with interest in writing, and it'll happen. Find your way in!

Anonymous said...

I'm also a first year teacher, and it's wonderful to hear about such enthusiasm in helping students to write. My children have come SUCH a long way in Kindergarten. They are proud of their own writing, too. But what stuck out to me was just be patient with them and don't get too stuck on their spelling. As long as they're trying and you're praising, they'll progress towards being better writers. Now, if only I can find a way to help me remember that as they learn to read. :/