Writing Growth... WOW!

Monday, June 11, 2012
As I have shared before... teaching writing is what I feel is my teacher weakness. So I've been doing everything possible to improve that. My current favorite resource book is "In Pictures and In Words" by Katie Woods Ray. This book really got me excited about teaching writing through illustration instruction. That is, the illustration is just as important as the words themselves. I can't say enough about switching from a focus on words to a focus on both words and pictures!! At first, I wondered about what would happen if we spent time discussing illustrations first and then focus on words. Ray says that it's hard for us adults to remember just how hard it is for five year olds to sound out and write words while trying to remember what they want to say. So that the ability to draw a detailed illustration gives them a strong foundation to build from. Ray also says that many of the same processes we use to write are the same in draw an illustration. WOW!! So with this new understanding in hand, I spent much of the spring talking about illustrations and what they have to offer us. We started with the book Tuesday by David Wiesner.

Here is what I love about this book... the illustrations are AMAZING!

Look at those frogs... the whole story is in the pictures...amazing pictures!
We stopped here and talked about what the dog must be thinking... did he know they were frogs... was he running from them...was he scared of them... great conversations!
After we look at this page, the kids were sent to their tables to come up with what happened next. I LOVED seeing them work. I had them work in groups on a large piece of chart paper. One group had the frogs going to jail, another group had the lillypads coming back to life and fly around.

Take a look at four of my students work from the beginning of the year and at the end of the year.

Student 1 is an average student in my room. She entered the year not being able to write her name. As her beginning of the year sample shows, she was in scribble stage of writing.
Here is her end of the year sample. She is now able to form letters and understands what happens when you are writing a story and run out of room. She also knows that a sentence starts with a capital letter.
Student 2 is probably my lowest student. Through some of our kindergarten testing we determined that this child's IQ shows that she will need further testing and probable placement in SPED. Our RTI team also decided that she needs to move to first grade to get that testing, something that our district will not do in kinder. Oh the frustration that I have with knowing that I must send children on who need testing and SPED placement but I also know how they will struggle. Here is the end of the year work for this student.
LOTS of growth!! I'm not sure if you can see the writing but there are still some numbers in this writing. But WOW...

This is my highest student. They left kinder reading on a DRA 8.
Ok this is where illustration study is SO amazing!! Look at those details!! This child worked and worked on this picture. With all the details in place, they were able to write about it. She told me that she wanted to write more but we had to leave for PE and could she work on it later if there was time.
This sweet little one goes to speech for processing and articulation. At the beginning of the year, he struggled with one step directions. He spent tons of time on this drawing but struggled to go any farther. Now look at what happened by the end of the year...
I love this!! Remember this child has trouble processing heard information into actions. I love how he sounded out cheetah...

Now here is the part that gets me really excited... my student population might change year to year, but the level at which my students enter school will not. By starting with illustrations, the children are able to communicate and make their own stories!


  1. I always love going back and looking at the beginning of the year writing and the end of the year. This is a great way to see the progress and growth of each child.

  2. It's one of my favorite things about teaching Kinder-they grow sooooo much! Some of my kids didn't even believe their beginning of the year writing was theirs-"I didn't write like that!". Um, yes you did, you just came a long way in 9 months !:)


  3. Loved the "growth" post today. It's is why we do what we do. Great work this year. I am following you for sure . . . uh, hello . . . you get results!!! Glad I found you :)

    Kelley Dolling
    Teacher Idea Factory

  4. To see growth in kids is truly amazing...its why i love the little ones!! BTW, head on over to my blog and check it out. Make sure you join because I'm doing a giveaway in the next 24 hours!!!


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