KG2 Writing

Making Picture Books

Unit Sketch

Kindergarten students come to our classrooms as budding authors full of stories and information from their own lives. This launching unit builds and capitalizes on the skills and enthusiasm from the oral language unit while introducing students to the world of written language. In this unit, students will learn how the little marks on the page convey thoughts, ideas and feelings.

It is hard to over emphasize the importance of establishing clear structures and routines so children can carry on independently during writing time. Students learn that writers assume identities and habits while the teacher accepts approximations and coach the students into a cohesive community of writers. The unit teaches necessary routines through explicit lessons designed to scaffold students as they become independent. Children learn how to sit at tables and use a variety of tools and resources as they begin the journey of putting their thoughts onto paper.

As children begin to transfer their oral language stories into more permanent forms, writing and drawing will progress from single pages to multiple page booklets. The goal is to make sure that students can keep themselves engaged; working in a way the child believes is productive.

Immersing students in quality books is central to a literate classroom. The selection of books should include books that focus both on the written story and the visual representation. Writing is a social activity. Children will be engaged in talking and sharing with their fellow writers as they move to the conclusion of the unit when they go public with one piece of work.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • We are all writers.
  • Writers can get ideas in many ways.
  • Writers use tools to help themselves write.
  • Writers get ideas and turn them into stories and books.
  • Writers can also be illustrators.
  • Writers read their books to others.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Engage in a short (3 - 5 minutes) mini-lesson (sit still, pay attention, state daily lesson target)
  • Effectively transition from mini-lesson to workshop time
  • Collect necessary materials for writing in the classroom
  • Effectively use classroom routines during the workshop
  • Rules and expectations during independent writing time
  • Use writing folders, writing tools, and anchor charts to support writing
  • Use turn and talk as a method for sharing
  • Use drawings, letters, and dictation to tell a story
  • Write across multiple pages
  • Retell from memory and "breadcrumbs" the books they've written
  • Write name on books
  • Celebrate my writing through a publishing process
  • Name what they can do as a writer

Illustration Study

Unit Sketch

Through the study of illustrations, writers learn to answer the questions: What do illustrators do? Why do we use pictures when creating a story? What strategies can I use to tell my story? Students learn to identify and use illustration techniques (stick figures to life-like figures; facial expressions, shapes and sizes of characters, ways to show depth and distance; showing time; showing movement; split-screen; inside/outside; backgrounds; relationships; close-ups, etc.).

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • Illustrations in a book communicate to the reader.
  • Writers can use illustration techniques to make their books more engaging for readers.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Study a book's pictures
  • Make predictions about why illustrators do what they do
  • Make connections between text and illustration choices
  • Use a variety of illustration techniques to create a writing piece
  • Include key story elements in their writing piece through illustrations; ie. setting, characters, events
  • Draw facial expressions on characters to show how they feel

Where Do Authors Get Ideas?

Unit Sketch

In this unit students are exposed to a variety of books that help them identify the variety of sources of inspiration for authors. They reflect on their own experiences to produce an original piece of writing.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • Writers get their ideas from a multitude of sources:
    • Something I love/Passions
    • An experience
    • Holidays
    • People you love
    • Stories we’ve heard before; making them our own
    • Something I know a lot about
    • For a specific audience

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
  • Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
  • Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
  • Use punctuation: periods, exclamation points, questions marks
  • Generate their own ideas for writing

Authors as Mentors

Unit Sketch

Students are exposed to a variety of texts by specific authors. They learn to identify author strategies and style. When engaging in writing conferences, students are asked: What have your tried in your writing that you have learned from [author]?

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • Writers use other authors as inspiration.
  • Studying other authors can help writers become stronger writers.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • notice and name author's craft in books
  • attempt to emulate author's craft in their own books
  • demonstrate strategies for encoding
  • emulate author's use of illustration style and words to communicate ideas
  • articulate author that appeals and give a reason
  • Progress toward appropriate use of conventions (spaces between words, words go left to right)

Small Moments

Unit Sketch

Growing as Small Moment Writers begins with immersing students in text that illustrates the type of writing we hope students will emulate. These exemplar texts should teach students that small moments are focused, true stories that have specific details and are written in a sequential order. During this immersion phase, students will be generating and collecting story ideas for their own writing.

Students will use what they have learned about planning their writing to help them create small moment stories. Through rehearsing and drafting, students will begin to zoom into one tiny moment and stretch the small moment across many pages. They will recall and record their reactions to small moments and name their feelings. They begin to include lots of interesting details. They will learn that writers can tell their story again and again; each time putting in more dialogue via speech bubbles, actions, thoughts, and/or feelings. This will help make a piece more like a story and less like a summary.

Students will examine the readability of their small moment stories. Emphasis will be placed on writing sentences that match their pictures, writing known words quickly, writing new words based on known words, hearing and recording sounds in sequence, and using spacing between words.

The unit ends with the students fine tuning, publishing, and sharing their best small moment stories. A celebration of student growth and recognition of their growing knowledge for writing culminates this unit.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • Writers use mentor text to study characteristics of Small Moment stories and generate story ideas.
  • Writers think, rehearse, and write small moment stories.
  • Writers try writing more.
  • Writers include details, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Writers revise, publish, and share their best small moment stories.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Write true stories that have happened to them
  • Write MORE focused stories than at the beginning of the unit

How To Books

Unit Sketch

In this unit, Kindergarten students now become teachers using writing to teach others. Specifically, they write to teach others how to do something. This type of procedural writing relates to all they do across the day. Students begin seeing How-To texts everywhere: game board directions, recipes, and inside Lego boxes. The world is full procedural writing and kindergarten students can learn by studying them.

Procedural writing requires writers to write explicitly, clearly, and sequentially to teach others how to accomplish a task. Procedural writers need to anticipate what their audience will need to know. To write a How-to book, a kindergarten student recalls a procedure, starting at the beginning and proceeding in a step-by-step and precise manner to the end.

There are four main parts to this unit. The first part is the launch of the unit and it encourages writing or reading lots and lots of little procedural books. The second part of the unit emphasizes the importance of writing in such a way that readers can read the writing. The third part of the unit turns to lifting the level of student writing to create more elaborate and clear text with the deeper use of mentor text. Finally, the unit ends with students revising their text more extensively to prepare for publication.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • Writers can write books that teach others about things they know how to do.
  • How-to books need to be planned in order.
  • Writers use mentor text to study characteristics of procedural How-To books and generate procedural How-To topics.
  • Writers generate topics; rehearse ideas and write lots of books
  • Writers write so that readers can read their writing
  • Writers revise their How-To books
  • Writers prepare for publication
  • Writers write so that readers can read their writing
  • Writers revise their How-to books
  • Writers prepare for publication

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Select a familiar topic for writing
  • Select a relevant title for a how-to book
  • Write a how-to book
  • Use detailed pictures to teach the reader
  • Use at least one transition word in a how-to book
  • Stay on topic
  • Use proper spacing between words
  • Put periods at the ends of sentences
  • Begin each sentence with a capital letter and capitalize "I"
  • Spell sight words correctly

Reflection and Opinion Writing

Unit Sketch

In this unit we teach children how to channel their natural abilities of persuasion into letters designed to state an opinion about a book they know. Letter writing begins with the students believing they have something to share with someone and also that people are interested in hearing other points of view. We begin by telling children that what they have to say is important and that their words make a difference.

This unit becomes a foundation for teaching students that in real life and in various other writing forms, individuals make a claim and support it with evidence. Children need to grasp the big work that we are asking them to do and believe that this work is within their grasp. What is really important here is focus. Writers need to decide exactly what they want to say and then work diligently to say that one thing. You will want to revel in children’s approximations as well as their enthusiasm to get their opinions down on paper.

Students begin by listening and forming opinions about books they have heard. Through immersion, they study the format of letter writing, how books can create strong feelings within us and how we can have strong feelings because of the connections we make to the book. Before children begin to draw and write, they are given an opportunity to plan and rehearse at an oral level how their letters will unfold. After composing, in kindergarten fashion, writers revise and edit their work to make it more effective.

Finally, after their opinions are on the page, they seal them up and send them into the hands of another person.

Enduring Understandings:

Students will understand that...

  • Writers study mentor text to form opinions about books.
  • Writers form and support their opinions about books.
  • Writers write to express an opinion.
  • Writers revise and edit to make their pieces more effective.
  • Writers go public with an audience in mind.

Skills:

Students will be able to...

  • Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…)
  • Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them)
  • Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges
  • Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly
  • Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/ (e.g., dog, dogs; wish, wishes)