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Learning Through Writing . How Young Writers Use the Writing Process to Help Them Make Books. “Making stuff is developmentally appropriate. Children love to make stuff and to help us make stuff .” (Ray, About the Authors , P.6)

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learning through writing

Learning Through Writing

How Young Writers Use the Writing Process to Help Them Make Books

what is developmentally appropriate

“Making stuff is developmentally appropriate. Children love to make stuff and to help us make stuff.” (Ray, About the Authors, P.6)

  • “Use the same energy to fuel the writing: Writing Workshop will be this time every morning when we get to make stuff, or more specifically, we get to make really cool books.” (p.7)
  • “The curious exploration children do when they are trying to make something, the trail and error, the joyful messiness of it all, is also so developmentally appropriate.” (p.7)
What Is Developmentally Appropriate?
a happy place where we make stuff

“The making of a book involves so many different decisions-what it will be about, the kind of paper and material it will be made of, the illustrations, how it will go. With some teaching, the children will learn that during writing workshop time they may do different kinds of research on a topic, have a conference with a peer, read books for ideas on how to craft their writing, and more.” (p.8)

A happy place where we make stuff.
what they don t know won t hurt em

“The making of books also involves writing legibly from left to right, spacing between words, using both upper- and lower-case letters, spelling many high frequency words correctly, using knowledge of both spelling patterns and phonics to generate unfamiliar spellings, using a variety of kinds of sentences and end punctuation, and using some internal punctuation as well.” (P.4)

  • “They aren’t being herded through a set of predetermined activities. They are using the options they have to explore, figure things out, play around, and create, just as we know young children should be doing as they learn.” (p.8)
What they don’t know…won’t hurt ‘em!
from the beginning do bigger work

“One of the reasons students write only a sentence when asked to write is because of the medium itself-often a journal page or a single piece of paper-suggests this to them. The book medium is a whole different suggestion entirely, and it causes them to do a very different thing with writing.” (p.9)

  • “Start the year with everyone making picture books for several reasons. One is that picture books encourage volume right away. They use both written text and illustrations to make meaning, and developmentally at this age, most children need to use both to communicate on paper.” (p.9)
From the beginning …do BIGGER work!
the work is so big the idea of the work is so big

“Most young children’s reading experience is with picture books, so this written form is the most familiar to them and this helps them know what kind of thing they are trying to make.” (p.9)

  • “The picture book is a form, a container in which many genres can be written, it can be used to hold the writing of the specific genres we choose to study.” (p.9)
The work is so big. The idea of the work is so big.
the writing may look small but the work is big

“The key to believing in our students’ ability to do really big work in our writing workshops is to remember they will do it like four- and five- and six-year-olds. It will look and sound like four- and five- and six-year-olds wrote it. If we can accept this, then they can do it, whatever the it may be.” (p.10)

  • “We have known for a long time that to understand beginning writing, we need to honor the smart, theoretical thinking children have to do to approximatespelling and other language conventions.” (p.10)
The writing may look small, but the work is big!
help students read like writers

“Thinking of themselves as people who make books is the starting point for students learning to read like writers, the most important habit of mind for writing they will develop all year. Reading like a writer means that when you read, you think about more than just what a text is about, its meaning. When you read like a writer, you also notice and think about howa text is written, because you write yourself and you just notice things like that.” (p.14)

  • “When children come to think of themselves as people who make books, they begin to look at books differently. Everything they notice about how books are made becomes something they might try when they make them.” (p.15)
  • “They need to read the kind of thing they are trying to write.” (p.16) Study Driven
Help students read like writers.
the process is not a process until you make it your own

“We begin writing workshop by handing out the paper and the writing tools and asking students just to get started and go ahead and make something with writing. We expect them to use whatever process they are able to use to get that done. Once they are up and writing, then we’ll begin to watch them very closely and teach into what we see them doing (and not doing), helping them refine all the ways they go about writing-from ideas to finished pieces.” (p.59)

  • “Writing workshop is a place where we want children learning to use a process to compose writing for an audience.” (p.61)
The process is not a process until you make it your own.
writing projects

“Prewrite – The process begins with finding ideas for the kind of writing you are planning on doing, for a writing project.” (p.61)

  • “Living-with-an-idea – thinking about an idea, collecting all sorts of related, random thoughts, doing research to get specific information, reading to get a sense of the kind of writing, lots of talking about an idea, and begin organizing their thinking.” (p.63)
  • “Planning – For our youngest writers, the intellectual and fine motor demands of any writing are such that to make some distinction between prewriting and writing seems a little ridiculous. It’s all writing to them and it’s all challenging and when they’re doing it, they’re just doing it-they’re not getting ready to do it.” (p.65)
Writing Projects
drafting and revision

“Getting words down on the paper-we want the children to be able to generate a spelling for any word they want and then be able to read that word back after they’ve written it. We want them to be able to do this with as little disruption to their thinking about their idea as possible.” (p.69)

  • “In the process of revision, there are really just five things a writer can actually do to a text: change something, add something, take something out, move something around, or chuck it all and start over. We do not push our youngest writers to do lots of revision work, we teach hard toward a strong vision for the first-and often only-draft.” (p.71)
Drafting and Revision

“A writer can’t edit for what he doesn’t know about how the language works. In other words, we can only fix things we know need fixing.” (p.74)

  • “Instead, we may start teaching the habit of mind of editing-rereading to see if everything is as it needs to be on this page-with some simply things that have to do with layout of the books than with real understanding about conventions of language.” (p.75)
  • “Spelling-are they using a variety of strategies-visual memory of high-frequency words, sound-symbol knowledge, word length, knowledge of other words. Their writing needs to show a clear sense of “wordedness” with spaces separating the words.”
  • “Punctuation-As I’m reading my piece, do I see that I’ve used enough punctuation in it to help people know how to read it? As I’m rereading my piece, do I see that I begin my sentences with capital letters?”(p.77)

“Many of the books the children finish are not published in any more formal way. They are simply finished and shared. To ask the children to reproduce them in the name of publishing in the end just doesn’t make much sense.” (p.78)

  • “Fancy Publishing-Child chooses a piece of writing and with the teacher’s help makes decisions about page layout, font, size, color, and so on as the text is entered into word. Once the pages are printed out, the child re-illustrates the book.” (p.79)
final thoughts

“We know as they develop fluency, we’ll expect to see more and more writing in these books. We know that as their reading lives grow to include other kinds of text, we will expect them to begin writing other kinds of text. We know that during the day, in times outside writing workshop, our young students will use writing for many other purposes-to record, reflect, sign up, sign out, gather, think, explain. But during writing workshop, they are, makers of books and we build all out teaching around that identity.” (p.16)

Final Thoughts