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Writing in Kindergarten. Journal entries versus booklet writing Lynn Hogan Carrie Marshall Norma Lea Murray May 4,2013. Context. Rural/Sub-urban school K-3 Primary School Approximately 600 students. Problem.

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Writing in kindergarten

Writing in Kindergarten

Journal entries versus booklet writing

Lynn Hogan

Carrie Marshall

Norma Lea Murray

May 4,2013


  • Rural/Sub-urban school

  • K-3 Primary School

  • Approximately 600 students


  • Our investigation was initiated after we attended an in-service on writing books in kindergarten. As a group, our writing instruction was challenged by the literacy coaches. The literature introduced encouraged book writing over single page journal entries. Do our methods of teaching writing have an impact on the growth of our student’s writing ability?


  • What happens when we introduce booking writing to our kindergarten students?


  • We are assuming that increased writing has a positive association to increased writing skills as assessed by the CAMET standards. We believe this is important in order to build a foundation of literacy for our kindergarten students. This will, in turn, have a direct impact on our method of teaching writing, as well as our timeframe for introducing writing books.




Data Collection:

  • variety of articles and books

  • Observations (daily logs)

  • Interviews

  • Collected students’ work samples

  • checklist and rubric


  • 3 kindergarten students (2 girls/ 1 boy)

  • Full time enrollment (7 months)

  • 3 teachers conducting the research

Literature review
Literature Review

From our various readings, we found the following common themes:

  • making books is developmentally appropriate (Brown, 2010, Glover, 2009, Ray 2010, Lamme, 2002)

  • book writing is purposeful (Johnson,2010, Glover, 2009, Brown 2010, Ray 2010, Mata, 2011)

  • greater engagement in the writing process (Johnson,2010, Ray 2010, Singh 2012)

  • students are able to scaffold their peers’ learning (Glover,2009, Lamme,2002)

  • Journal writing limits thoughts and creative expression(Brown, 2010, Ray 2010)

Data collection comparison
Data Collection Comparison

  • Participant: Student #_____

    Data collected since introducing book writing to the kindergarten class

  • Engagement:

  • Illustrations:

  • Spaces:

  • Punctuation:

  • Follow Through with One Thought:

  • Phonemes:

  • Choice in Genre of Writing:

  • Questions asked to students:


  • Engagement

  • Concepts in Early Writing

    • Illustrations

    • Punctuation

    • Follow through with main idea

    • Choice in Genre

Findings engagement
Findings: Engagement


  • All 3 were able to stay focused for longer periods of time.

  • 2 of the students enjoyed book writing.

  • 2 of the students did not choose writing during an active learning time.


  • Not all students were able to follow through with their chosen topic.


  • Students came alive when they realized they were writing to real people for real reasons or reading real-life text for their own purpose. (Johnson, 2010)

Findings illustrations
Findings: Illustrations


  • Fine motor challenges

  • More attention to detail

  • Greater use of color


  • There were no differences


  • Should be encouraged to do something instead of being told or shown. (Pound,2006)

Findings spaces
Findings: Spaces


  • Great awareness of spaces

  • Appreciation for the purpose of spaces for the reader.


  • There were no differences

Findings punctuation
Findings: Punctuation


  • 2 students using punctuation in a consistent manner.


  • 1 uses no punctuation

  • 1 uses periods only

  • 1 experiments with a variety of punctuations

Findings follow through with one thought
Findings:Follow through with one thought


  • All 3 students developed an understanding of the purpose of staying on topic. (author’s chair)


  • There were no differences.

Follow through with one thought
Follow through with one thought

  • “The writing process is considered more meaningful for reading, especially if children read what they have written (Chomsky, 1971), and is an inherently social process (Dyson, 1989, 2001) in which children construct their own texts from their contexts (Bakhtin, 1981).” (Singh, 2012) p. 1

Findings phonemes
Findings: Phonemes


  • Demonstrated an increase of isolating sounds within words.

  • Developed self confidence for writing.


  • However, 2 started progress with strong phonemes skills.


  • To prevent a considerable decline in writing motivation, children need opportunities to understand, value, and apply purposeful writing. Using writing in real-life situations can help children to discover and appropriate the various functions of writing (Mata, 2008a; Paquette, 2007).

Findings choice in genre of writing
Findings: Choice in Genre of Writing


  • All 3 students began writing about various topics on day to day basis.

  • Each student had a favorite topic but would write about various other topics.


  • There were no differences.

Choice in genre of writing
Choice in Genre of Writing

  • Making picture books is developmental appropriate because, when supported to do so, children bring to book making the same exploratory spirit they bring to all sorts of other play. (Wood Ray, 2010)

Interviews with students
Interviews with students


  • Q- How do you find your ideas to write about? All 3 indicated an internal process

  • Q-What is your favorite thing to write about? All 3 referred to their own topic of the day.

  • Q- Are you a writer? Yes


  • Q- Do you like to write in your book and your journal? 2 said yes and 1 said no.

  • Q- Which do you like better? 2 books -1 journal

  • Q- What do you need to remember when you write? 2 were able to verbalize it (words, spaces, sentences).

Learner engagement remembering the children
Learner Engagement: Remembering the Children

“While many educational provisions are being approved for children, there appears to be very little evidence, if any, that points to consultation with children. This is particularly noticeable for children below the age of eight years who are affected by curriculum guidelines aimed at the early years. There seems to be a major focus in the curriculum frameworks on what is taught and to be assessed rather than on ensuring learner engagement” (Harcourt & Keen 2012, p. 4).

Professional learnings
Professional Learnings

  • All the children demonstrated a greater interest in book making vs. single page journal entries

  • All the children increased their writing ability

  • Some children realized their illustrations had a direct impact on their writing and quickly adapted

  • Personality influenced their motivation for writing

  • Writing is now taking place in other areas within the classroom

  • TIME was a factor!! Since the data collection, we have noticed a continued increase in their writing ability

As a teacher i learned
As a teacher, I learned...

  • Carrie

    I learned to not forget the learner when it comes to measuring student engagement

    Focusing on one student’s writing made it became clear how the book writing impacted their writing in a positive way.

    Even though it was a short period of time, it was a nice snapshot in my student’s year of writing.

  • Lynn

    I learned that I will start book writing in September because it has a lot to offer every student.

    It is important to be consistent in your collection of data in your daily logs and observations.

    I learned to be patient to wait for the pattern to emerge from the data.

  • Norma Lea

    Collecting data is a positive learning experience which enables both the teacher and the students to scaffold their future learning.

    My daily plan has become student directed- not teacher directed.

    My opinion can be drastically changed through observations

    Always go in with an open mind!


  • We, as teachers, have decided to introduce book writing at the beginning of the year vs. the middle of year.

  • The whole aspect of the student engagement in writing excites us!!


  • With book writing, students were able to begin writing at their own entry point and move forward. The children have developed a greater confidence in their writing ability.

  • At the end of this action plan, we are left wondering what will happen next year when we introduce book writing early in the school year? Will next year’s students be further along with their writing ability? Will this year’s students achieve greater writing results in grade one as a result of the introduction to book writing in kindergarten?


Brown, K.(2010)Young Authors: Writing Workshop in Kindergarten

Link: http://ici-bostonready-pd-2009- 2010.wikispaces.umb.edu/file/view/Young+Authors+Writing+Workshop.pdf

Cress, W.S (1998). A Sense of Story: Interactive Journal Writing in Kindergarten. Early Childhood Education Journal, 26(1), 13-17

Giacobbe, M.E. & Horn, M. (2007). Talking, Drawing, Writing Lessons for Our Youngest Writers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers

Glover, M. (2009), Engaging Young Writers. Portsmouth, N.H. Heinemann.

Harcourt, D. & Keen, D. (2012). Learner engagement: Has the child been lost in

translation? Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), 71-78. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.rlproxy.upei.ca/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&[email protected]&hid=8


Johnson, J. (2010), Implementing Writer’s Workshop into the Kindergarten Classroom;  An Action Research Report. Concordia University. Portland. Retrieved March 14, 2013 from


Lamme, et al (2002). Helping kindergarten writers move towards independence. http://ehis.ebscohost.com.rlproxy.upei.ca/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=767d674b-d757-49e1-8c3b-d9d12ef5dd07%40sessionmgr113&vid=4&hid=16

Matta, L. (2011). Motivation for reading and writing in kindergarten children.

Reading Psychology, 32, 272-299. Retrieved fromhttp://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=724cdb53-f127-44e1-9c86-545b6adca548%40sessionmgr110&hid=106


Ontario’s Guide for Effective Instruction in Writing: Kindergarten to Grade Three (2005) Retrieved March 20,2013 from http://www.eworkshop.on.ca/edu/resources/guides/Guide_Writing_%20K_3.pdf

Pound, L. (2006). How Children Learn. London, England: Practical Pre-school Book

Ray, K.W. (2010). In Pictures and In Words. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemans

Selvester, P. & Steffani, S. (2012). The Relationship of Drawing and Early Literacy Skills

Develoment in Kindergarten Children. Journal California Reader, 45(4), 15-24.

Singh, S. (2012). Independent and collaborative writing in a kindergarten classroom. Journal of Reading Education, 36(1), 48-53. Retrieved fromhttp://ehis.ebscohost.com.rlproxy.upei.ca/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&[email protected]&hid=106