Sunday, April 18, 2010

Working with my Focus Student

For the past couple weeks I have had the opportunity to work very closely with my focus student during writing workshop time. During writing workshop, the students have been focusing on making sure they have a beginning, middle, and end of the story. They are also working to make sure they are making spaces between words, and using their letter chart to sound out words to try and spell them as best as they can. These are the main things that the students are supposed to be working on during their writing workshops.

I have had the chance to work with my focus student during writing workshop and observe the progress she was making. First, I noticed that she always likes to make the illustrations for her story before writing the words on the page. She spent a lot of time working on her illustrations, and sometimes it seemed like she would try and prolong the process of drawing so she would not have to start writing. When she did finish the illustration she would first say the sentence she was going to write before writing the first word. She would begin sounding out the words in the first word and would ask me questions about whether or not it was right. I would tell her to refer to her letter chart and look for the letters that were heard in the word. She did a great job of looking at her letter chart and slowly sounding out the words to figure out what letters were in the words. She did this for the entire sentence on the first page, and seemed to be extremely happy with herself for finishing the firs page of her three page story.

Since they are working on the beginning, middle, and end of the story, after she finished the first page, she continued on with the second and third page. Again, she made her illustrations, and spent less time on her writing. Although she did a good job of sounding out words and creating the story, her pages did not make any sense and there was not a real order to her story. Her thoughts were jumbled from one page to the next and there was no chronological order. On one page she would be talking about what she was doing on the past weekend, but then on the next page, she would start talking about what she was doing at school. She would make sense on each of the pages she was writing on, but when it would go to the next page, it was not really a story because it was did not go in order.

Although she is still lacking some important parts of writing for her age, she has shown a great deal of progress since she first started working on writing stories this past year. She still has some key points of writing to establish, but she is making fairly good progress and is doing great at continuously trying to do her best during writing workshop.


  1. Wow, I am so impressed that your kindergartners are working on story elements! Did we do that in kindergarten? I feel like kindergarten is the new first grade! I'm curious, how did your focus student's sentences correlate to her illustrations? Did they line up completely with what she wrote, or were they just random? I think looking at the relationship between what your student is writing and what she is drawing could be very telling of her development of concepts of print. Maybe, if her drawings were just a random assortment that didnt relate to her sentences, maybe she is unaware of the elements of picture books, maybe she doesn't realize that illustrations are a way to help draw conclusions from a story. How is her punctuation? Does she use her two fingers to help remember to have spaces between her words? So many questions! haha, its just been so long since I've been in a kindergarten classroom, I'm curious as to the strategies your CT utilizes to help her students.

  2. Most of the time my focus student's illustrations would correlate to the words in her story because she would often start drawing the pictures before writing the sentences. Sometimes I would prompt her to talk about the illustrations before she began writing to provide her with a clear concept of what she wanted to be putting in her story. Having her talk about the pictures allowed her to make sure the pictures and the words matched up on the same page. The random thoughts started from page to page. For example, on of the first page of one of her stories she was talking about Christmas and then on the next page she was talking about eating ice cream. Although she is being creative and coming up with different thoughts, she is not putting them in chronological order of what is happening. Her punctuation is pretty good, because before every writing workshop, my teacher goes over the things they should be focusing on during writing, extensively. She is always reminding the students to focus on capitalization, punctuation, periods, and sounding out words slowly to hear as many sounds in the words as possible. She also does a great job of modeling the stories, by coming up with her own and drawing pictures to not only show the students the mechanics of writing, but also how to have beginning, middle, and end of the story that correlate. I think my students main problem is not coming up with a beginning, middle, and end, but being able to bring all of those ideas together to make one flowing story rather than random thoughts. Hope this was able to answer some of your questions and if you have any more feel free to ask! :)