One of the first grants the Education Foundation made was to the Kindergarten teachers at Creekside Elementary School to purchase materials for “Author’s Academy,” now renamed Writer’s Workshop.
In Julie Dawson’s classroom, she incorporates Writer’s Workshop with the Super Kids curriculum and the Six Traits of Writing which are used at all FCS schools.
For 30 to 45 minutes each day, Kindergarten students write. The writing lesson begins with a book with a mini lesson that Mrs. Dawson reads, then models the lesson.
Then the writing begins. Students get their binders and begin writing something based on the lesson which could emphasize paragraphs, editing, punctuation or capitalization, the sequential process or voice.
Often, the students begin their writing by drawing a picture, then labeling the picture based on the lesson.
For an assignment to write three sentences on “What I did on Spring Break,” Hannah drew a picture of her jumping on a trampoline and also told that she got some new clothes and found all of her Easter eggs.
In Kindergarten, students use phonetically based spelling, where they write down the words as they sound to them. So Hannah spelled trampoline as “trampulen” and clothes as “clos.” As students learn “sight words” or words that are on posters in the room, those words should be spelled correctly according to Mrs. Dawson. Over time, the students learn more spelling and increasingly spell words correctly.
Says Mrs. Dawson, “The expectations are higher than they were when I started teaching 13 years ago, even five years ago. Do we push them too much? I don’t know.
When we do push then, they do rise to the occasion. Our students aren’t afraid to try to write.”