Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Work Over Time

Each year we choose one student's work to showcase on our final standard-based bulletin board. Since this class has been together for two years we had the option to review both the kindergarten and first grade portfolios before making a decision. It really was exciting to go through the work and see how much each child had grown.  It was very difficult to choose a single student's work to showcase. We chose a student that has shown such good progress-the type of progress we expect when students are exposed to a Readers and Writers Workshop every single day.   Below is the general commentary on the student's progress.

A Work Over Time

All the right ingredients
This student entered Kindergarten with a big smile and all the right ingredients.  He came from a supportive nuclear family and had been exposed to a wide range of experiences with numbers, letters and sounds. 

 Mix and stir
This adorable little boy came to Kindergarten with the ability to retell a familiar story at a Level 4 on the Sulzby Scale and so with rich and repeated read alouds, he quickly grew in his ability to retell.  At the same time, he was putting letters and sounds together.  He came with a strong vocabulary, so it was only a matter of time before he was able to put letters and sounds together to write stories on paper.  By the end of Kindergarten he was reading above the expectation.

Frosting the cupcake
As a first grader, this little live wire began to read chapter books and enjoyed talking about what he was reading.  In Writing he easily took in the basic structure of narrative, informational and persuasive writing.  He understood strategies and craft and began adding them in his writing.

Adding the cherry on top
First graders embrace deeper reading and written comprehension assessments in the second half of the year, and this very bright first grader has breezed through this transition.  He reads a broad range of genres with accuracy and fluency.  As he has developed as a writer, his natural  sense of humor has become evident in his writing.  He uses craft in his writing that make his pieces engaging to the reader.  One of the most interesting things about him is that he is also a very strong Math student.  He is the total package.

We present a graph on the bulletin board that graphs this student's reading levels through his first two years of school.
The bulletin board also shows four pieces of student work.  The first piece is from early kindergarten
and includes this commentary on the work.
Beginning Kindergarten Commentary


By September of the student’s Kindergarten year he was able to draw a picture and write about a small moment.

The time I went to Orlando I went on a boat to get there.

In this early piece he writes about his trip to Orlando.  He can already spell a few sight words such as the, to, Mom, Dad, me, and on.  He draws a picture to match his words and labels Mom, Dad, me, the wind and water!  He hears sounds in words and is able to write the sounds that he hears.


Nicky entered Kindergarten able to retell a familiar fairy tale at a Level 4 on the Sulzby scale.  This means he could recall the events of the story but did not tell the story in “story language.”  He did not use detail in his retelling and was not yet able to tell the story in a way that sounded like he was reading it.
The bulletin board includes two additional pieces with commentary at the end of Kindergarten and the middle of first grade.  By the end of first grade, the original writing for the following story was included, along with commentary.

Space Hamsters
One time there were four hamsters.  Their names were Leo, Mark, Jack, and Snacky.  They were special hamsters.
“COOL,” said Leo.  “But what’s that?” said Mark. “That’s a warning light,” said Jack.  “I want a snack,” said Snacky.  “What’s that lever for?” said Snacky.  “Don’t touch that!” said Leo.  But he touched it…
“NO!  We’re not ready to go to Venus!!!” said Leo.  “How do we steer?” said Mark.  “I want a snack!” said Snacky.  “I think I know how to steer?” said Jack.  So he tried and he did it…
And he stepped on the gas pedal and he wasted all the gas!  They screamed, “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah!!!”  “I wanted a snack for this whole trip and now I’m going to die!!!  So now, can I have a snack?” said Snacky. “NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!” said the others.  BOOM!!!  “AHAHAHAHA…”  “Wait a minute.  I think we’re alive,” said Snacky.  Jack felt a tap, tap, tap and he screamed.  “Ah ah ah ALIEN!”  said Jack.  He jumped into Leo’s hands!  It was another space hamster!
“Oh, hi,” said Jack.  “What’s up?” said Leo.  “Hay!” said Mark.  “What’s your name?” said Jack.   “Giovanni.”  “WWWWOOOWWW!!  Nice name!” said Jack.  He was sarcastic.  “Where’s your spaceship?” said Mark.  “Over there,” said Giovanni.  “Have any gas in it?” said Leo. “Yup!” said Giovanni.  “Yay!” everybody said.  “Let’s get on and go!” said Jack.  “Okay then, let’s go,” said Leo.  So they lifted off!

Late First Grade Commentary


As we come to the close of first grade, this student’s narrative portfolio piece is characteristic of his fiction writing.  He has imaginative characters (space hamsters) and settings, and he adds his own personal touch of humor ("Snacky" is a space hamsters that repeatedly asks for a snack!)    The piece has a definite problem and solution.  He does a nice job of moving the story along with dialogue and punctuates the discourse correctly.  He even uses the vocabulary word sarcastic correctly!  This first grader uses onomatopoeia and all caps to show the character is saying the words LOUDLY!  He even uses several revision strategies.  He uses a variety of punctuation including an ellipse to build suspense.   When you look across the two years, it is AMAZING the writer he has become!


As this bright young man leaves first grade he is a strong reader, reading  at a DRA level L, which is an end of second grade level.  He enjoys a variety of genres.  He can talk about what he reads with enthusiasm and depth, and always with a smile.  He enjoys life and his friends and has a broad range of interests!  Keep an eye on this little reader because the sky’s the limit!

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