Sunday, November 3, 2013

6+1 WRITING TRAITS IN KINDERGARTEN

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Young children can and do write. They want to show others what they know. Children

move through three states of scribbling for writing according to Clay (1975). In the first stage

they scribble for pleasure. In the second stage children acquire the knowledge that written

symbols convey meaning and they believe adults can read their writing. The third stage includes

mock letters and beginning letter sounds. The children describe their messages by what they

hope they have written.

Along with writing, children draw. Drawing is one of the primary ways children

communicate. There are also stages of drawing. These stages include: scribbling, preschematic,

schematic, gang, pseudo- naturalistic and the period of decision (Lowenfeld 1987) Kindergarten

students are typically in the preschematic or schematic stage. The preschematic stage is

characterized by symbols constantly changing. The schematic stage is characterized by objects

sitting on a baseline and child’s active knowledge of the subject. The amount and quality of

detail also progresses from a minimal stage to increasing attention to more specificity working its

way towards greater elaboration and patterning (Carroll 2003).

According to Karnowski (1986) young writers use drawing to explain their writing and

they use it as a prewriting strategy. Drawing helps children plan and organize the written text.

Often students will draw first in order to get their thoughts on paper. After the thoughts are

drawn the children can use their picture to remember their story and write it down. Vygotsky

(1978) stated that children’s drawings capitalize on the narrative impulse that emerges in their

earliest drawings, on their tendency to create story drawings and on the talk that surrounds and

supplements the drawing events.

There is a correlation between children’s drawing levels and writing readiness because

both are grounded in making shapes, lines and symbolic representation (Carroll 2003). As

writing progresses, so does children’s reading readiness. Children learn to read and write most

easily when they encounter texts that they themselves have authored (Sidelnick, Svoboda 2000 p

175) Teachers must capitalize on this knowledge to help create great readers and writers.

Teachers of these young students must remember several guidelines when allowing

students to write. Teachers need to know what their students understand about communication

and writing upon entering school. With this knowledge teachers can help foster writing in their

class. Teachers need to redefine their idea of writing. Writing in the early years takes many

forms and all must be valued and encouraged if a teacher wants to see growth in all their

children. Teachers must also understand that children use everything they know about

communication in oral language, art, music and drama to make sense of the writing process. The

children use familiar communication systems to add depth and meaning to their newly acquired

skill of writing (Karnowski 1986).

Children will make progress with their drawing and writing if they are provided with

time, materials, information, and freedom to invent meaningful language (Hayes 1990).

Children need to be immersed in a literacy focused environment in order to foster their writing

skills.

Children in an environment that fosters writing should be given different occasions to

write. These opportunities will provide students with extending their writing knowledge.

Children should at times use a sketchbook/journal where they can freely write and draw what

they want to. They also should attempt drawing by diction. It requires another level of

processing skills. A third type of drawing is drawing by request. A topic is given to the children

and they must write or draw about it. All of these help children to become great writers.

Great writers use certain qualities when they write. These qualities have become known

as traits. 6 Trait writing is a “hot button” topic in schools throughout the world.

 

What is 6 Trait Writing?

6 Trait Writing began in 1983 when a school in Oregon wanted to assess student writing as well as teach writing. They wanted an instrument that would provide accurate, reliable

feedback to students and teachers that would help guide instruction. In order to understand what

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good writing was a group of teachers read hundreds of papers written by students. They agreed

upon six qualities that demonstrate great writing. The qualities, now known as traits are,

· Ideas (details, development, focus)

· Organization (internal structure)

· Voice (tone, style, purpose, and audience)

· Word choice (precise language and phrasing)

· Sentence fluency (correctness, rhythm, and cadence)

· Conventions (mechanical correctness)

· And another has now been added. . .presentation (handwriting, formatting, layout)

These traits became the foundation for the descriptive criteria used to define qualities of

good writing at different levels of achievement. Rubrics were created to assess the writing done

by students.

 

Enjoy,

Ms. Nora Sierra

 

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