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When Reading and Writing Come Together in SK, Magic Happens
By: Senior Kindergarten Teachers Lauren Brody and Abbie Duvall
Senior Kindergarten is an exciting year full of growth and development. The students enter the classroom on the first day of school excited for what is to come and all there is to accomplish. Steadily, programs and topics are introduced throughout the school year to help the students learn new strategies and master concepts. Two essential programs introduced during Senior Kindergarten are Guided Reading Groups and Writing Workshop.
In our daily Guided Reading Groups, students participate in small group activities that help them combine their previous knowledge with newly acquired strategies to further develop their reading skills. They begin the school year by solidifying their recognition of letters and their sounds. From there, students begin working on acquiring reading strategies that help them use their sounds to decode words. We use a system of reading in which each step is not learning words in isolation, but the development of the power to identify words from patterns of letters. This approach translates letters into sounds and sounds into meaning, which eventually becomes automatic.
For our writing program, we use Lucy Calkins’s Writing Workshop. This program begins with an introduction to writing and then takes the students on a yearlong journey full of experiences with different types of writing. The students become writers on their very first day. They participate in a mini-lesson in which a writing strategy is introduced and demonstrated. Then, the students go to their writing area and work on their stories. While working independently or with a teacher, students stretch out words by saying them slowly and listening for the sounds they hear. Then, they write down the letter sounds they hear to form words and sentences. Throughout the week, the students will conference with a teacher. These conferences provide our students the opportunity to read through their stories and work on further developing their writing skills.
Separately, these programs are very successful; however something magical happens throughout the year when the two programs intertwine. In Guided Reading Groups, the students may break down a story and write about its beginning, middle and end. They might even expand the story by writing the next chapter. Sometimes, they feel comfortable with trying to write the story from another character’s point of view. While writing, it is fun to watch students think about a book they’ve read and try to bring concepts of the book into their writing. For example, they may want to rhyme a story like Dr. Suess or they may want to tell their reader about the time they found their favorite stuffed animal like in the book Corduroy by Don Freeman. When the students feel comfortable with intertwining their reading skills and writing skills together, the possibilities are endless.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in St. Louis, is a private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.