Thursday, July 26, 2012

PreK-K Emerging Readers/Writers Workshop

Ok…so I promised to blog about my PreK-K reading and writing conferences. Admittedly, since I teach fifth grade some of the things I blog about may be no brainers for those of you who teach these grades! However, as I listened to the conversations taking place around me I realized that I was hearing a lot of “That’s so easy; why didn’t I think of that?!” So I’m going to take my chances and hope not to bore any of you!

The reading workshop was up first. Since I also serve as the school's reading specialist, this was a great reminder for me of what I can expect from our newest little readers, as well as some ideas to recommend that teachers try for some of their struggling cherubs!

ABC Linking Charts! We’ve all seen these…

…and they’re great! The presenter stressed that we have a tendency to move from the unknown to the known, when we should really be doing the reverse. By using environmental print and pictures of students, we can make charts that students will relate to even more! There may be some squares we have to fill in with other pictures, but the more we can relate, the better! Here's a quick little example I put together in no time at all!

Ok, here’s another easy thing to do – that I bet many of you do already on your Word Wall, but maybe not with your alphabet line! Above your alphabet line put pictures of the children whose names begin with that letter.

Another idea the presenter stressed was using names of students to talk about sounds. For example, at our table we had a Lindy, Ginny, Christy, Cheryl, and Kristine. Here are just a couple of things that we came up with:
Y at the end of the end of words can say /ē/: Ginny, Christy, and Lindy
Ch can make different sounds: Cheryl /ch/, Christy /k/
There are different ways to say /k/: Christy (CH), Kristine (K)

She also gave us some ideas for how to use an alphabet linking chart, good books for retelling, and an early learning environment checklist. If you are interested in any of these things, let me know and I’ll add them!

Moving on to writing...

The most important thing I took away from this workshop was from the book Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray. On page 10 the author writes, “…if Sean sees an adult’s writing as part of his process, then the transcript has a message attached to it, whether it’s intended or not . The unspoken message is that Sean can try to write on his own, but adults are really the ones who know how to write. This message is reinforced by the fact that adults don’t usually redo children’s illustrations, only their writing. When one kind of approximation is accepted and not another, the message is clear.” I walked away thinking how important it was to understand there is a time and a place to scribe for children and I’d better not mess it up!! No pressure though!

Another idea the presenter gave us was an easy way to help keep track of students’ mastery of objectives. She suggested that we simply write/type the objective at the top of the page, have a page of address labels with students’ names printed on them (I use Microsoft Word and Avery labels-30 per page), and while walking around the room observing, just pull the label off the sheet for any student who you observe mastering this skill. I do something like this, but my way is definitely more complicated. The nice thing about this is that you know that any students whose names remain on the original label sheet haven’t been observed as mastering this skill (this could be because you didn’t have a chance to observe, they were absent, or you observed and they need more help!) She didn’t suggest this, but I would have a binder with a section for each content area. Then I would punch holes in the SWBAT sheet with labels and put them in the binder (in order of course!) behind the correct content area. You could even clip the unused labels to the sheet for later use if you so desired! This way you would know exactly who you needed to check in on!

Another quick and easy idea the presenter had was to use Wikki sticks to mark charts. For example, say you have a nursery rhyme on your chart stand and you are having children identify a specific letter, sound, etc. They can take the Wikki stick, form it into a specific shape (that’s my input!), and then put it on the chart! This allows you to reuse the chart and doesn’t require you to write everything on sentence strips (which is what I tend to do and then I use colored transparency squares to highlight the feature).

I hope this all makes sense, I know it does in my head, but that doesn’t mean I have been clear enough for you! If you have any questions at all, please let me know and I’ll do my best to clarify!

Happy teaching!


  1. Hi I'm Heather. I have a question about your blog, please email me when you get a chance. HeatherVonSJ(at)gmail(dot)com Thanks!!

  2. I just emailed you, Heather! "Talk" to you soon!

  3. Hi Kristine,

    I am your newest member. I found you through the blog hop. Thanks for sharing all of these great ideas. I use wikki sticks all the time but it never occured to me to use them to mark specific letters or sounds on charts. I will definitely be using them for this purpose in my K class this fall.

    Thanks, Liz :)

    1. Liz, I'm glad you can incorporate one of my ideas into your classroom! After all, that's what this is all about...share and share alike :D I'm off to visit your blog now!

  4. Love your ideas--thank you for sharing! :)

    1. Thanks, Kimberly! I hope you find some of them helpful!

  5. Hi there - I am trying to print your letter and sounds chart (it's the only one I've found with the SH CH etc. as well) but when sized up to A4, I loose the quality. Can you help? This would be a great help with my 6½ year old daughter who is having some literacy issues.

  6. I didn't actually make the letter and sound chart, it's just a picture of one I found online that I used as an example. That's why the quality is so bad.

    Here's a link to a black and white one I found online. It has a full page of just blends and digraphs. I hope it helps!