March 2019 SOLC–Day 14
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
On a recent Friday we met the kindergartners in their classroom. The room was a buzz of activity. The little ones were working on lining up, each one clutching a piece of paper in his/her small hand. This was the day they were going to share their writing at the K-2 Assembly, and we had been invited to come along, to enjoy their final pieces and support them if necessary.
My fourth grade class has been reading with kindergarten buddies since early in the school year. Last month, the Kindergarten teacher and I decided to try having them write together. Both classes separately listened to a mentor text (Mel Evan’s the tiniest sound) and then came together to write their own response to the question “What is the tiniest sound?” The book is a lovely poetic piece, inspiring creative thought and interesting word choice. Fourth graders supported their buddies as they wrote, reminding them use their “sound power” to write down each sound they heard.
It was a delight to watch them work together. I saw one of my less-than-focused struggling readers try over and over to encourage her wiggly, wandering buddy.
“Ok, now say the word. Squeak. What sound do you hear at the beginning? S-s-s-s-s-squeak.”
She was determined and persistent, thoroughly engaged in this work with her small companion. He remained distracted, but she never gave up.
Then on Friday we walked into assembly and my fourth graders sat behind their buddies.
“I love this,” a teacher next to me stated. She gestured toward a kindergartner who was being quietly encouraged by his fourth grade partner to sit quietly. “He’s already been sitting for longer than he ever has at assembly!”
Soon the kindergartners were standing, facing the audience with my students beside them. Behind them, their responses were displayed on a large screen. Each child took the microphone, read his or her piece from their paper and then handed the microphone along. As they read, sometimes they hesitated. When necessary, my fourth graders bent down, encouraged and occasionally whispered the necessary words to them. Their support was perfect–subtle and positive.
“I just love this,” the teacher next to me commented again.