Slice of Life - Writing With Young Children

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays.  Join us each week and come to love this awesome writing community.

For the past several months, I have been seriously thinking about ways to encourage children to write. I have particularly focused on students in grades K to 2.  This isn't the first time that I have pondered how to encourage and support writing in the younger grades, but lately I feel a bit obsessed. Children need to have a voice and a way of expressing themselves.  They need to be able to advocate on their on behalf, as well as, express their unique ideas and learning.   Not only should this communication be orally but in writing as well.

But how do you best do this as a teacher when you have large class sizes and many students who are English Language Learners or who do not have strong role models for reading or writing?

It is not that I am opposed to writing prompts or sentence starters or using graphic organizers or other techniques to support students, but somewhere we lose sight of the real goal - providing students with a voice to share ideas, and stories, and feelings.

Sometimes I feel like the ideas coming out of some schools of thought do not adequately address the challenges in writing with children in urban settings.  Other times, I feel like the ideas created specifically for children who are English Language Learners are too restrictive and do not produce the results that we hope for. Where is the happy medium? What is the best technique for the kindergarten teacher with a very diverse classroom of nearly 30 young students?

So, I am reaching out to my on-line Professional Learning Community and asking, what has worked for you in teaching and nurturing young children to write? What techniques or strategies have been particularly helpful? Have you tried these ideas with diverse populations? How does it fit into your daily routine? Any other thoughts?

If you can leave some of your thoughts in the comment area, I would love to read them. And thank you for being a responsive sounding board as well.