I am Cathy from Cathy Collier's The W.I.S.E. Owl. I am honored to be a part of this blog. Let me tell you about myself.
I was born to be a teacher. My brother and sister will attest to that...I made them play school from the time they could hold a pencil. I had a Raggedy Ann chalkboard and a box of carbon paper. That's right, I could make 2 worksheets that were identical. See, I was supposed to be a teacher. I am excited to share all about writing folders for kindergarten and emergent writers.
Kindergarten students can be given Writing Folders in January of the school year. By the time, they get their folders they are ready for them. We have practiced writing and learned procedures for our writing time. Let me walk you through the folder.
As you can tell, I use 2-pocket, 3-prong folders. The front pocket is labeled "Works in Progress" and the students learn to put their writing in this pocket while they are still working on it. Before students have folders, we are doing whole group writing on chart paper. Students walk through a daily process for writing that includes storing their writing day-to-day. Creating this habit while it's a whole group activity, supports the students independent activities.
Once students are asked to write independently, they need to be allowed to CHOOSE their topic. Providing topic cards, picture word books, and writing lists, students can choose 2 or 3 topics. This sheet can be kept in the front pocket...behind the works in progress. As they finish a story, the student moves the writing to back pocket and the writing ideas page takes center stage again. Students can either choose a topic on the existing list or find new topics. I have found the more they are allowed to choose what they are writing about, the more they write.
I'm kind of a freak about sound charts. Emergent writers need something to hang their sounds on...and I want to be in charge of the connections. I want short vowels. I want hard c and hard g. We practice these sounds every day and they are "experienced" in using this chart to stretch words and write sounds through our whole group writing lessons. There are sound charts all over the room, but having another sound chart easily available is optimal. As the students progress from this initial sound chart, I like to add a blends linking chart.
Another tool we use ALL THE TIME is the BIG 3. We have made a giant anchor chart. We sing the song every day. We have hand motions to make sure we include capitals at the beginning, spaces in the middle, and an end mark at the end. I like including a Big 3 rubric in the writing folder as another reminder for students. Providing the rubric also allows students to self-evaluate their writing.
Including a personal word wall allows students to be independent and grow as writers and readers. I include all the words introduced in the first and second nine weeks. At the beginning of the third nine weeks, I switch out the word walls to include all of the words that will be introduced that 9 weeks. I do the same at the beginning of the 4th nine weeks. I can also add words as students ask for them. I try to add sight words not topic specific words. The word walls should be useful with all writing and I don't want to fill the word wall with story-specific words that won't help them beyond that one story.
Allowing students to have choice and control over their writing will inevitably produce better writing.
If you would like a FREEBIE writing folder handout, CLICK HERE.