Even a Kindergarten ABC book!
And, boy, have our writers done just that...or almost done that :) We have only 4 letters left to write and illustrate in our ABC books. W. X. Y. Z. Last week I said I was going to put the writers' books together and hand them back to the students. I wanted them to feel the weight of their work. To see the creative compilation of their day by day by day commitment. I purposefully built up the moment! I lowered my voice to a whisper. I leaned in. My eyes were big with wonder.
You could have heard a pin drop!
And then, I brought out their books. The whole big pile of them. I handed them out with reverence and asked the writers to sit and read their own writing. In silence. I encouraged them to savor the moment of holding their words in their hands. They were so proud of themselves!!! Bravo!!!
After we spent some time with the almost finished books, I collected them back up and got quiet again. I lowered my voice to a whisper. I leaned in. My eyes were big with purpose. I slowly told the writers that their work was not quite finished. I had all eyes and ears on me as I talked to them like a conspirator. "We have more work to do. We have to finish this work for our readers." I spoke as if I were telling them a secret. And for that moment, they were all in.
But, of course, they are kindergartners. The moment passed, and they were quickly back to their squirmy, chatty, lively 5-year-old selves. That's okay. We had the moment. One that they will not soon forget. And we needed to get busy again.
At this point, we are nearly done. Today I want to highlight how important the authenticity of this project has been to the quality of the product and to the commitment of the writers to their work. When we started the ABC book, our objective was for the students to learn, to practice, and to strengthen their handwriting skills. But, we did not do it in a typical kindergarten handwriting book. We embedded that fundamental learning within the context of a real writing experience for a real audience. It changed everything.
Below is one writer's pages. If we are just looking at handwriting and letter formation, notice how this student moved from using all uppercase letters in his first word Australia (typical in early kindergarten), to the correct use of upper- and lowercase letters in the word Thursday. And, yes, that is a koala bear illustrating Australia!
Next, while creating a Kindergarten ABC book, our writers practiced writing word(s) that are not typically written by 5-year olds, like educate, quick and understand. Is the ability to write these words transferrable in some future writing work? I am going to say "Yes!" Some of these writers may very well use these higher level words in another context. Never forget to always believe in the possible!!
So, this week we will finish up. I know the writers are ready to move on. This has been a long unit of study. Especially for kindergartners! But they did it!!! I could not be prouder!
Next time we will talk about assessment. How do we use this work to assess our students' growth according to district expectations and report card grading categories? It is not my favorite subject. But, as teachers, we are required to assign a scored value to children's art.
In the meantime, savor the joy of teaching young writers! The value of a kindergarten writer's work is in its effort and truth and simple existence.