Since the beginning of the kindergarten year, the students have been randomly selected, one per week, to be the “Super Star!” of the week. The selected student is asked to take home a poster to decorate based on themselves. On Tuesday of their selected week, this particular student is asked to present their poster in front of the class. After the presentation, the students in the audience are given a chance to ask questions or give comments. At one of the rotations that day, students are given the prompt “_______ is our friend” to get them started writing about the Super Star.
Our current goals with the students’ writing involve teaching the students to proofread their own work for mistakes. The main objective of this lesson is to encourage students to practice writing using appropriate letter formation and phonetic spelling, in addition to checking for the three things all sentences must have: a capital letter, finger spaces between words, and a period. Students are encouraged to write at least two sentences on a practice sheet of paper before producing the final draft on “Super Star!” paper. All in all, we are working toward becoming writing experts and understanding how to write independently on a topic correctly.
Once the students have written, they will go to a computer and make a comparison Venn Diagram using Kidspiration to demonstrate the students understanding of the Super Star as well as to promote relation between students.
This lesson meets the following California State Content Standards for Kindergarten in English-Language Arts:
1.1 Use letters and phonetically spelled words to write about experiences, stories, people, objects, or events.
1.3 Write by moving from left to right and from top to bottom.
1.4 Write uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet independently, attending to the form and proper spacing of the letters.
Written and Oral Language Conventions
1.2 Spell independently by using pre-phonetic knowledge, sounds of the alphabet, and knowledge of letter names.
*Standards taken from www.cde.ca.gov à the California Department of Education website*
Prior to small group rotations, the “Super Star” of the week will present his/her poster (that they have completed at home) in front of the whole class. After the Super Star’s presentation, the students in the audience are allowed to ask questions and/or give comments on the Super Star’s poster (so as to identify similarities and differences between students and promote empathy and friendship between peers).
We have recently begun the process of writing down information about the Super Star on a white-board grid so that students may use key words when formulating sentences in their small-group rotation. During a whole group writing process (after the question and answer session), students in the audience recall information about the Super Star while the teacher writes the information (with the help of the students) under the specified topic on the white board (facts, likes, dislikes, when they grow up, family, and wishes). While at the writing rotation, students may use the clues given by the displayed white board, the Super Star’s displayed poster, and their memories to write at least two sentences about the Super Star. When completed, each student will have a bound book with every other student’s writing about them.
Before breaking into rotations, the students should be reminded of the three most important things a sentence needs: a capital letter, finger spaces, and a period. We are working on making these aspects independent.
Direct Instruction: Input, Modeling, Checking for Understanding
1) Before breaking into rotations, model how to correctly write two or three sentences on a topic. Ask students for input with ideas and sentence structure. Once modeled, check for understanding by asking probing questions about sentence structure: How many fingers do we need to indent? How many fingers in between words? Why do we need spaces in between words? Do we have any capital letters where they should not be? When we are finished with our thought, how do we let the reader know we are done? Include an off topic sentence and some improper grammar to see if students catch it. Once finished, centers will begin.
2) Welcome students to this center. Explain to the students that today they will be doing their very best writing, just like always, as they write about the Super Star of the week. This process should run rather smoothly as it is habit for the students. Remind them that they may use the keywords on the whiteboard grid, but they MUST remember to check their work! In order to appeal to all intelligences and to help with the ELD students, remind students of the arm motions for a capital letter, finger spaces, and a period.
3) Hand each student a “Super Star!” paper with the instructions to write their name first and then get started. The students will know the drill. The high group will copy the words “________ is our friend.” from the lined paper and then continue their sentences on their practice paper. The medium group, too, will copy the words that are displayed with little help, but will need more reminding about sentence structure. The lowest group will each receive their paper and will write the words “_______ is our friend.” with the teacher, one word at a time (so as to reinforce sentence structure, finger spaces, and letter formation). Once the students have successfully accomplished this, they may get started on their second sentence on a practice sheet of paper.
1) Allow students in the high group to sound out their sentences using invented spelling and words they can find around the room. Encourage these students to write at least 3 sentences, rather than two, and to start each sentence differently than the one before. When they claim they are finished, ask them to reread their work, check for mistakes, make sure sentences are complete, and then correct their work with student help so that they may transfer it to the “Super Star!” page. (Students will take home their practice page so parents will see what each student is working on in the writing process.)
2) Students in the medium group should also use invented spelling and will work independently until finished. These students will write two to three sentences and should also be encouraged to remember what all sentences need. Less concentration is placed on starting sentences differently with these students until sentence structure is mastered. Ask students to read their work back to you before correcting it with you, so as to see if letter-sound correlation has been mastered or if it still needs work.
3) With the low group, ask the students what they want to say in their writing. We are working on getting students to sound out words given only a beginning letter, therefore write the first letter of each word they dictate, and allow the students to finish those words. Be sensitive to each student’s needs, concentrating on letter formation and reinforcing sentence structure. Ask for at least ONE correct and well-thought-out sentence from each of these students.
4) All students should have enough time to at least begin transferring their writing over to their “Super Star!” page. The concentration of this lesson is not to hurry the students but to encourage thoughtful and neat writing. The students should not feel pressured to complete their work in a sloppy manner. Those who do finish will draw a corresponding picture above their writing that matches their words. Once the illustration is complete and the final draft looks good, students will read their paragraph to the teacher.
5) Once the students have finished, they will go to the computers one at a time to make their Kidspiration Venn Diagram. See the example for an idea of what some students may do.
Though some students may not be finished with their writing by the time it is time to switch centers, closure is important in reinforcing the sentence structure that we are trying to drill into the students’ minds. When the 20-25 minutes are finished, collect the papers, reassuring the students that they will have time to finish up in the afternoon. Remind students that writing is a process and once we have brainstormed our ideas, we can put them into sentences so that our readers can understand us. Ask students to use their bodies to help you remember what sentences ALWAYS need: a capital letter (stretch arms away from one another), finger spaces (as they use on their papers), and a period (a fist in the air). Remind them that to be expert writers we ALWAYS have to remember this and we’ll keep practicing every day so that we do remember!
Writing is something we do in the classroom every day. Both at centers and often times during whole group activities, students are asked to use what they have learned to formulate sentences on paper. Writing is used across all curricular areas, and hence is something that really MUST be practiced every day at this age. Students participate in group writing activities with the teacher during our morning message routine, and each student has a journal that is kept in class where writing progress can be tracked. Additionally, students are often given a writing activity in their homework packet to practice at home, and all children are encouraged to write “books” at home that they can bring to school, read in front of the class, and these are kept in our “library of classroom authors” (the library at the front of the carpet). A writing rubric has recently been sent home to parents with a cold-write of the students’ so as to give parents an idea of where their child is at. It is my hope that parents will continue to work vigorously with their children in this area. Any writing that is done with a teacher near (such as at an independent exploration center so that the teacher knows that the students has not been helped) can be used as a form of assessment.
*Adaptations should be made based on students’ needs. Students will be challenged based on their absorbency of the lesson as it happens, and the writing progress that student has made in the year thus far. Pre-adaptations are based on ELD needs (picture cards, modeling, and reinforcement) and leveled grouping.*