Sunday, February 21, 2010

Early writers - adding detail

Yes, Lori Jamison's workshop was packed.

And for good reason. Here's another excellent tip she shared.

When her kindergarteners were starting to write sentences (towards the end of JK or in SK), they would write this way: "I like my cat."

And that would be it. I'm finished, teacher!

How to encourage them to add detail? To add another sentence or two?

Jamison would go around the room, reading the kids' sentences, and give each child a dot sticker on the back of their hand.

If you had a dot on the back of your hand, that meant to add another sentence. The period was the dot.

As she was handing out the stickers, she would say something like this: "I like my cat. That's very good. Do you think you could add another detail about your cat?" The child would nod. And she would put a dot on the back of the child's hand. ("Here's a detail dot.")

The child would write: "I like my cat. He is funny."

For some students, Jamison would apply two dots to the back of their hand. Two dots! Two details. Go, kid, go.

She says she has never had a child refuse a dot. In fact, children come up to her asking for more dots. That's pretty good - kids asking to write more.

As kids are given dots, it's a good idea to offer a prompt that helps them come up with the next sentence. Like "How did that make you feel?" or "What do you like about it?"

The kids' sentences weren't always "book English" - in other words, written perfectly, the way you'd see sentences in a book. Sometimes they were pictures with scribbles. And sometimes they were jumbled letters meant to represent words. Doesn't matter - it's all part of the continuum of learning to write. They're all forms of "sentences" to which the kids can add more "sentences" and greater detail. Those kids still get dots, and the dots help them progress along that continuum. And it's fun.


Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work! I find that you're blogs often have great tips, such as the one about the dots would be simple for parents to try at home! Thank you for keeping up on you're blog and know that you are appreciated greatly in this home.

Joyce Grant said...

This one comment will go a long way towards keeping me blogging.

Thank you so much - it's great to know that you are using and appreciating Getting Kids Reading.