Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kindergarten Narrative

Our school purchased the new Lucy Calkins' Writing Units this year, not as an approved district curriculum, but from internal school accounts, because teachers begged for the new material!  We couldn't wait to get our hands on this new work by Teachers' College because we knew it had been vetted in real school in NYC by a group of teachers and coaches who collaboratively wrote the units and then taught them and revised them before they ever made ii to the pages of a manual for other teachers to follow.  The units arrived in the middle of the year, but our kindergarten teachers dived right into one of the new units - narrative.  We have not been disappointed

We've completed the unit.  Now is time for our annual kindergarten work-over-time standard-based bulletin board.  This board usually features a kindergartner's beginning piece and then a piece about mid-year and a final piece, all with commentary.  However, since we just finished this amazing Calkins' unit, I decided to do something a little different in honor of our new learning  I decided that  I would use the baseline and post-prompt pieces in our new narrative unit to show how some of our youngest writers had grown over the 6-8 weeks of this single new unit.  I posted a first day of kindergarten piece, and then the baseline prompt and finally the post prompt for the Narrative unit  for three students.  Below is one student's work..

The Kindergarten Narrative Standard
W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in order in which occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

The Task
Using Lucy Calkins’ new Narrative Writing Unit the class spent eight weeks working through every lesson, repeating a few that we felt we might have taught poorly the first time around!  Before beginning the narrative, students were asked to write a story about something that had happened over the Winter holiday (we started this unit the day we returned from Christmas/ Winter break).  They were given one workshop period to complete the project.  That piece was scored using the Reading and Writing Project- Grade K Narrative Rubric.  At the end of the unit the students were asked to write another story and the same rubric again was scored.  Remember that we had not taught the first two new units in the series but did teach the e-unit lessons published earlier by Teachers' College. 

Sawyer's Narrative
Narrative Baseline Prompt

Translation: Unreadable
Baseline score = 2.0

Sawyer’s baseline piece does not meet any of the criteria of this element.  It is written at the pre-kindergarten level or below.
Language Conventions
Sawyer's piece looks like a string of letters and is simply unreadable.  However, if he tried to reread the piece, he has probably put some letters for the words he has tried to write.  You can even find a few sight words (the, Santa, eat). Sawyer probably did not use the word wall as these sight words are all part of his spelling vocabulary, even at this early stage.  If given the chance, Sawyer probably could have read his piece and surely could have described in great details the event he had written about, because he is gifted expressively and quite animated!
Not only does Sawyer's drawing have no detail or labels, the reader  has no idea what it is! 


Narrative Post Prompt

1.It was my brother’s birthday.  For breakfast I had Dunkin’ Donuts.

2.Next I had a water balloon fight.

3 I played outside.  I was really happy.
Post prompt score = 3.5

Sawyer’s birthday story has three numbered pages, with a beginning, middle and end.  He has a first page that tells the beginning, It was my brother’s birthday, and has an ending page that tells what happened last, I played outside. The end page also explains how he felt, I was really happy.
Sawyer does label many of the things in his illustration. It is difficult to tell what many of the things are in his drawing but that is probably because he is always in such a hurry and is not interested in illustrations!
Language Conventions
Sawyer starts all of his sentences with capitals and uses the capital I, but he uses punctuation inconsistently.  He spells many sight words correctly and is not afraid of bigger words, such as brekfist for breakfast.  He easily reads his own writing.  There has been a huge improvement in Saweyer's handwriting as he realized that other people had to be able to read his stories.  His use of spaces also makes the work more readable.
In comparing Sawyer’s two pieces, the progress is rather apparent and amazing.  His baseline piece is unreadable.  To go from that to a simple story with a beginning, middle, and end, is dramatic in such a short time. The reader has to be impressed with the sheer progress in readability. The use of spacing and improvement in his handwriting during this short period of time are also striking.  So, it is no surprise that his greatest improvements on the rubric are in Structure and Language Conventions.  Sawyer proudly shared this piece with his peers.  He could barely stay still to read it, he was so excited! Way to go Sawyer! 

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