It's been awhile since I've posted about Language Arts. We have been working on sight words and just basics of reading here at the house. However, I've noticed that I'm not doing a lot of writing lately. As part of our weekly focus we are going to add a few writing elements to our day.
The first one will be through nature journaling. We love hiking and being outside. I aim to take a quick hike at least once a week. COVID has delayed this a bit, but we are still finding ways to find secluded spots. Each time we hike, we try to find teachable moments. Whether it's comparing leaves or seeds, counting the number of sticks we collect, or even choosing a rock to bring home and paint for our rock garden, we have a good time.
Whenever we get home, my students are encouraged to share some experience they had while hiking or being outside. It's a nice way to reflect on what we have seen and learn through the process. I don't try to teach through the writing but use it as a way for them to use inventive spelling. For my youngest writers, I encourage them to draw a picture and label the picture with any letters they know. I then follow back with a label and date.
We also use these nature journals to record anything fun from our year. The first lost tooth was documented with a picture and a certificate. When our chickens began laying eggs, we had to celebrate with a journal entry. Each year the students get new journals and love placing the old ones on their shelves to reflect on the past year.
Besides journaling we also do handwriting practice and guided writing during our reading lessons. We are trying Handwriting Without Tears this year and are still using Guiding Reading with Jan Richardson. (Don't forget to check out my other reading posts about Jan Richardson's Guided Reading program.)
The last way we are implementing writing this year is through shared writing. I have forgotten what shared writing can look like with a small set of students. I often did shared writing with large classes as a our whole group lesson. However, I am finding that it's especially powerful with a few students as well.
We began by bringing out some fun smelly markers and large pieces of chart paper. The kids were really excited about their new tree house and wanted to make some fun signs to celebrate. We worked together to brainstorm some words we might need and began to sound the words out. Then, the students were left to write their own messages.
You can see the different levels of writing here. One writer is placing sentences together. The other is still working on letter formation and the idea that letters can be put together to form words.
While pretty basic, this shared writing experience encouraged us to work together and share our thinking. We are going to continue adding more formal shared writing to our weekly writing plans. We just started our space unit, and I'm already imagining lots of ways that we can use this to write together and even publish some books about space!
You know I'm all about goal setting. I'm hoping to have at least 3 formal writing lessons during the week for each student.
Nature Journaling: Invented spelling and labeling
Guided Writing: Differentiated based on each learner
Shared Writing: Working together to focus on writing skills
What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate writing with young readers and writers? I would love to hear your ideas!