I asked my best friend (and one of the best teachers I know) to be a guest blogger this week! She has shared a great Writer's Workshop strategy with us!
As a teacher who has worked with young writers (K-3) for the past 10 years, I have gained some insight into how to motivate and acknowledge kids in this area. Although I'm always looking for new tips & techniques I can use to enhance my Writing Workshop, I have come to realize that no matter the curriculum or content I'm presenting to my students, it's the way kids feel about their abilities that encourages them to learn something new. (Amen Rachel!)
In my classroom, celebrating the efforts of young writers is a daily practice during Writer's Workshop. Compliments and words of praise go a long way and help children begin to recognize their own strengths (and areas for continued growth) as writers.
One of the strategies I utilize to celebrate and acknowledge every effort my students make is called, Did-It Dots. I purchase little, plain, colored circle stickers to place on student papers during the independent writing time of my Writer’s Workshop. I use these stickers to acknowledge the writing techniques or strategies that I have introduced during my mini-lesson. I walk around the classroom and look for examples of students trying the concepts we are working on as a class or the various personal goals my students have set for themselves.
When I see evidence of their effort to try something and focus on the new learning, I simply place a little circle sticker on their paper. As I do this, I say, "You did it! You ________." (I state what I notice they did.) My students have been trained to respond with, "I did it! I _______!" (Repeating what I said about their writing.) I find it important for my students to understand how proud I am of all they are learning, but also how important it is for them to see their accomplishments themselves.
I don't use Did-It Dots every day during Writer’s Workshop because overuse seems to diminish the excitement of this strategy. If you find yourself needing to rejuvenate this idea (maybe you already do something similar), I have adapted Did-It Dots by using a hole-punch instead of the stickers. Children get excited to see their papers look like Swiss-cheese by the time we get ready to publish their stories.
No matter what strategies you use to celebrate writers, always remember that building positive self-awareness in little learners can last a lifetime. Opportunities to acknowledge every effort kids make will help your learning environment flourish! Starting small will soon have you saying, "I did it" too!
Kindergarten Teacher: Charlotte Public Schools
Red Cedar Writing Project Fellow and Teacher Consultant