Saturday, March 15, 2014

Kindergarten 5 Paragraph Essays



I have been asked about the writing process I go through with my kinders. I thought I would share a recent project that we completed as a class. This will give you a look into our writing process. Please note that my kindergarteners have been writing all year long through different activities. We have been building up to writing 5 paragraph essays ALL. YEAR. LONG. I plan to write future posts about our different writing activities. If I put them all in this one post, it would entirely too long and you would never read it all in one sitting. :-) Follow my blog for future updates.

Essay Topic: Sharks VS. Whales, Who is king of the sea?


Step 1: Research

Like most kindergarten teachers, I integrate science and social studies into many different activities through out the day. We began by researching facts about sharks and then facts about whales. I wanted my kinders to feel like they were experts on the subject.
We started by going to the library to check out books on both of these topics. I wanted my kindergarteners to physically see me go to our library to check out books on the topic. I explained that we were scientist and when scientist wanted to study a topic, they would conduct research and collect data. I explained one way to collect data is by visiting the library to find books on the topic. I placed the books in our classroom and allowed the students to look at the books during free time and Daily 5. The books were always visible to the students.  



We also watched videos. You can find the videos we watched here in this freebie in my TpT store.



Step 2: Collecting Data

After research and talking about what we learned, we moved on to recording our data. I really believe this point is crucial because the kinders need a chance to write and form sentences about what they have learned. This allows them to become comfortable with the process.


I record exactly what they say. We work together to sound out words and use phonics rules to spell words. I want them to feel comfortable forming sentences even if the sentence doesn't quite fit.

We use these recording sheets to write "can have are" sentences. I write words along with them and model how to build the sentence.




The worksheets below were used as morning work.





Step 3: Model! Model! Model!

Kindergarteners learn from watching you and then putting it into practice on their own. I am so thankful that I have an EPSON Projector for my classroom. This allows me to complete worksheets alongside of them or show them how to complete an activity.



I model before each writing activity. Sometimes I have the kids to work with me to write sentences and sometimes I write my own sentences. In previous writing lessons, I taught my kids how to use letter charts and finger spaces. We also use wooden Popsicle sticks as spacers. In the past, I have modeled writing stories. I make up stories about my family dog Sadie Belle.

Sometimes I will write things incorrectly and have them correct me.
Example:{ Thebigdog.} or {the BIg dog}. or {The big dog?}

Step 5: The Writing Process

I used an example of a 5 paragraph essay to introduce what we would be doing. You can see my example in the picture above. Once I introduced it, I called on different students to say three things that they liked about a shark or a whale. Those three things would eventually be their thesis statements for the essay. I explained that a thesis statement is like a road map for what they would write about. Number 1 would be their first paragraph. Number 2 would be their second paragraph. I also explained that each paragraph needed more than one sentence about the topic.


We worked together to fill out these forms. I walked them through the process step by step. I also met with the individually. Not once did I have a student tell me that they didn't know what to write about. I believe this was because of our research process and practice writing. They already knew the sentences they wanted to write. Mainly I helped them with spelling and formatting.

I would encourage you to break this process up over a few days. This will allow them to process what they are doing. I chose to break up our time with trips to the water fountain and dance parties. We danced to this video because writing makes us happy. :-) We also made crafts to go with our essays. I will post pictures at the bottom of this post.


Publishing: The Results

Once we completed filling out the form, I had my kinders put their work in final form. Again, I modeled to my students how to copy from their rough drafts to their final essay. We talked about neat handwriting and how to make sure we were copying the correct words. I encouraged my students to put a check mark over the word after they finished writing it. I also think that giving them a marker or highlighter would make the process fun as well. I am probably going to do that next time. This was my kinders first time copying something in final form. I will have them continue to practice this through the rest of the year.

Below are some of the results. There are definitely things we need to work on like paragraph separation, but I think they turned out pretty good for their first essay of the year! :-) Please ignore my green fingernail in some of the pictures! We were painting that day! 













Craft Time:





If you have questions about our process, please leave them below in the comments and I will try to answer them. I do not claim to be an expert, so I am sure you may have ideas that you would like to share. Please feel free to share those as well. If you are interested in the Sharks vs Whale unit I used, you can find it here.


Blessings!!

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