Writing to Read – a trageton lesson

Hello y’all! The semester has begun and my first graders have truly kept me busy. Busier than I thought. Another thing that has kept me busy is my “other project”, the OmaOppi – application and blog. It’s a cool project that visions the future school as a place for individuals to grow and learn at their own pace, focusing on their strenghts and interests. The blog is in Finnish unfortunately 😛

I’ve written about the writing to read-method before and this is an update on how it’s going. This is my first time implementing this method and I was and still am quite nervous about it. Although I’ve read quite a lot about the method, followed classrooms that use it and I am really, truly convinced that it is a method that will work, it has been really hard of just letting go of the control and trusting that the children will figure out a lot of things themselves.

My classroom (of 27 students) is split into two groups on every writing lesson (4 writing lessons / week). The national curriculum states 7 lessons, and those three lessons that are left are focused on i.e. reading, drama etc. In one group there are the non-readers, in which most of the kids already know most of the alphabets, but some don’t – the other groups consist of beginner readers and a few fluent readers. Basically I’ve got half that can read something, and the other half who can’t.

With my reader group we start each of the four writing lessons with an activity that is supposed to enhance their language skills. We have a topic for each week that we start by a group discussion, writing down some words together and then after that the children are paired and start working on the computer. They write for about 15 minutes at a time. Once the work is done, the words / texts are printed and illustrated. We work on the same text for the whole week and our goal is to get it done in the set time. However, if someone is not ready, he will finish the work from the previous topic before he can move onto the next topic. I try to put an emphasis on how important it is to do a good work and one cannot do a poor job just because he would like to get more computer time.

With my non-readers we look at one or two letters each week. Instead of topics, they’re putting together their own ABC-book, with for instance words that start with A on one page (with pictures), words that start with I on the next page.. We follow the quite common order of letters as the commercial ABC-books do, because I want them to be able to write easy words quite fast.

I’m still contemplating on how to assign reading homework. I’m not in favour of reading logs, because they can take out the fun out of reading. And the whole idea of this method is finding the joy in written text. But I fear that some of the kids just don’t and won’t read at home on their own. Any ideas?

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