In the days after the initial launch of Read to Self in kindergarten, the class works together to continue building stamina. Depending on class success, the teacher may choose to model again and refine behaviors. During this stamina-building time, we teach our Work on Writing foundation lessons so our students are prepared when it is time to introduce Work on Writing.
Work on Writing foundation lessons in kindergarten mirror those in other grades, with only a few adjustments. These foundation lessons consist of:
Introduce work on writing materials—I start the year with plain white paper writing journals, and as children are ready, they transition to lined paper journals. A journal, along with two pencils and an eraser, is kept in each child’s book box. During this foundation lesson, I introduce the journal and show students the front of the journal, how to open it, and where to start writing. I use a big paper clip as a page marker so the children are able to easily find their places easily. It is during this lesson that I also model what a writer should do if his/her pencil breaks while writing. (First they try their second pencil, and then they walk to a cup on the counter that has sharpened pencils and trade their broken pencil for a sharpened one.)
What to write about—We generate a list of topics we can write about. I typically start by providing a few ideas, and then I ask students what ideas they can think of to add to the chart. With beginning readers and writers, I draw simple pictures to go with the words or I later print out pictures and glue them next to the words to help students “read” the ideas.
Modeled writing/What to do when you come to a word you don’t know—This lesson is extremely important, especially in the younger grades where children are beginning readers and writers. During this lesson we model how we make our best guess when writing the word, and then we underline it and keep going. Each time students observe this strategy being modeled, it reinforces that it is okay for them to try to keep going, and that it is not necessary for them to seek the correct spelling from a teacher or classmate.
Once stamina with Read to Self is around 10 minutes and we have taught the necessary foundation lessons, we introduce the next Daily 5, Work on Writing.