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Developing Research-Based Resources for the Balanced Reading Teacher

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Improving Writing Instruction
Sebastian Wren, Ph.D.

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Book Review 
They say that everybody has one great book inside of them -- maybe that's true, but the sad fact is that most people have trouble writing a simple essay, or short story, or even a coherent sentence.  Most people simply can not write very well.  And what is really sad is that young children love to write -- they just love it.  I see kindergarten and first grade students all the time who absolutely love to write.  But somehow, over time, they grow to hate it.  By the time kids get into 4th or 5th grade, most kids I work with have developed a real aversion to writing.  They have never really been taught to write well, they don't practice their writing skills often enough, and as a result, they do almost anything to avoid writing.  We need to start at a very young age, using writing as a tool to reinforce decoding skills.  We need to grow from there, using writing as a way to enhance vocabulary and background knowledge.  And we absolutely must help children learn to use writing as a tool for organizing and sharing their thoughts, knowledge, and dreams.

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Interactive Writing
by Andrea McCarrier, Gay Su Pinnell, Irene C. Fountas, Irene Fountas
Published in 1999 by Heinemann Publishing

I have introduced Interactive Writing techniques in a number of kindergarten classrooms, and even one or two pre-kindergarten classrooms, and without fail, there is always one teacher in every campus that says something along the lines of, "I never knew my kids could write!!"

Young kids love to write -- I've never met a kid under the age of 7 who didn't love to show off his or her writing abilities.  And they will amaze you with what they can do.  Interactive Writing really brings out the best writing talents from students, and gives the teacher a powerful tool to use to assess writing skills and individualize instruction.  And the best part is that all kids get to play a part.  When writing a passage with a small group, the kids who are struggling with text are able to write high-frequency words and can be supported in their attempts to write phonetically simple words (like "pill" or "day").  The kids who are a little more precocious can write the more challenging, multi-syllabic words, and the teacher can play a part, too, by filling in the irregular and difficult words.

This really is a very powerful activity for young kids, and I would love to see teachers use this sort of activity on a daily basis in pre-k and kindergarten classrooms

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Last Updated 1-1-05