Sunday, September 19, 2010

Writing Tools

We all want our students to be independent writers and our kids will be independent if we give them access to the tools they need.  Many teachers use baskets like the ones pictured below to make sure the supplies students need are at their table and within easy reach.  Baskets like these keep the different tools organized and allow students to reach for them at tables rather than walking over to the writing center each time they need something.

Most importantly, kids need a tool to sketch their pictures and write their words.  I like the black flair pens pictured in the red cup on the right.  They allow for the following:
  • Kids to write without having to use a ton of pressure.
  • Kids to write without having to worry about a sharpening a pencil in the middle of writing time.
  • Kids to write without having to stop to erase.  Teachers who provide these pens teach students to cross out words or letters they do not want with one simple line and then to keep on going.
  • Teachers to see all of the children's approximations.  
Students who need color to support their drawing do need colored pencils or markers at their table.  You'll know that they need this support when you see what appears to be scribbles on the page.  Color in the drawing will help these students remember their story when then they reread their sketches and practice orally telling their story across the pages.  Many kindergarten teachers provide tools to add color on their tables but most first and second grade teachers provide these tools only as needed for some students. 

For more supports and advice about writing tools and representational drawing, see the following books:
Talking, Drawing, Writing by Horn and Giacobbe

About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland

Launching the Writing Workshop by Calkins and Colleagues (part of the Units of Study in Primary Writing Workshop series)