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Collin’s Story: From conversation to storytelling

Collin, a kindergartner, and literacy expert Michele Dufresne read and write together one or two times a week. We hope that as we share Collin’s progress with you, you are able to take bits of learning to use with your own students.

If you have been following my recent posts about Collin, I think you have noticed the progress he has made. Today I will discuss Collin’s writing. Marie Clay tells us, “Reading and writing are two different ways of learning about the same thing – the written code used to record oral language.” (Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals, Part Two, p. 49). Collin, like many emergent readers, is learning so much about the written code, and it is paying off in his reading.

Before having a student write, I like to start with a good conversation. When I first began working with Collin, he mostly nodded or answered yes or no to my questions. Now that he has become more familiar with the routine he has become quite the conversationalist! He is interested in many topics, which helps us plan our writing. Here is a video of a recent conversation we had. I thought we might write about how he went to the beach that day, but he had other ideas!

In the next video, Collin controls many early writing behaviors. He writes with lowercase letters, leaves nice spaces between words, and remembers to re-read his story when he is thinking about what to write next. He also hears many sounds in words and has developed a strong core of words he knows how to write.

I have just started having Collin run his finger under the word box and say the word he is trying to write slowly instead of pushing his finger into the box. I do this because he has shown me he can hear the sounds in order and record many of them correctly. I am thinking about giving him boxes for every letter instead of each sound. I think I could have done a better job helping him with the word "growing" (I think I should have asked him to run his finger under it right from the get go). Oh well, if I only posted perfect lessons you wouldn’t get to see much!

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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