Scaffolding Beginning Writers Using Differentiated Instruction

Conferencng 1:1Writing Samples

Scaffolding students requires you to have a solid understanding of the writing continuum, on-going assessment as well as establishing writing routines which include time for conferencing with students in small groups for guided writing as well as 1:1 conferences. 

My writing program is inspired by the work of Lucy Calkins and her amazing team of researchers which I have integrated into my Reggio Inspired Kindergarten Program. It includes writing around the room, mini-lessons, interactive writing and daily independent writing. During writing the children always choose their own topic and use kid writing to write their story sentence. Juxtaposed with the writing program we do a systematic phonics program, read about five books each day and play literacy games including lots of rhyme as well as create a word wall for circle games (mid year). The children have opportunities to talk throughout the day which includes play such as exploration or partner literacy/math, story play, storytelling, guided talks and turn and talk during group activities.

The children begin with learning how to create a story picture. We decide upon criteria together and then co-create an anchor chart for reference to encourage independent work. To support their drawing we work on step by step drawing almost every day in the fall to strengthen these areas and build confidence. The drawing program is also a pre-printing program that teaches circles, downward stroke, straight lines and curves.

It is the guided writing small groups of 3 and 4 students as well as  1:1 conferences which enable me to differentiate instruction for my young writers. The child selects a picture story from the journal and we collaborate on the sentence usually 3-5 words and count the words in the sentence. If needed we can draw a line to represent a word and then the child can write the word, beginning and/or ending sounds. We may work on sound work, letter formation, sight words and/or spacing. To support the writer we may use an alphabet chart, magnet letters or a dry erase board. For some writers they may have other goals like adding more words, using a describing word, using our word wall or matching the sentence to their picture. 



By mid-year often the children who arrived in Kindergarten with a good knowledge of letter names and sounds are writing independently using kid writing. I believe that it is important to acknowledge kid writing and  encourage the children to write the sounds they hear in a word. 



As the students build writing stamina and skills they gradually move from a blank page to word boxes and then interlined writing boxes in their journals at their own pace. We also create lots of classroom books which have writing prompts such as "I like ... or I can... or My friend and I like to... A ______ can... With the classroom books I like to select a topic which they are interested in such as animals, seasons, field research or friendship but lots of times they suggest a topic. These books provide an opportunity to highlight sight words which have been recently mastered and are some of their favourite choices during friendly reading.

Liz

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