Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kindergarten End-of-Year Writing Celebrations

I have missed the last couple of Tuesdays for slicing but am happy to join Ruth and Stacey who host Slice of Life Tuesdays on their blog, Twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Feel free to join this community by either sharing your own posts or commenting on some of the others.

We were in school late so late this year that some of the writing celebrations are still fresh in my mind. As the district's writing coordinator, some of my favorite slices of life are attending the celebrations of student learning.

Parents and students watch the prezi that
described the year of kindergarten writing

Many of our kindergarten teachers created videos, powerpoints, photostories, or prezis about the year of writing in their classrooms. What a powerful way to show young children and their parents how far they have come and the rationale for writing workshop! I know that many parents struggle with the concept of not correcting the strings of consonants that appear in early writing. However, to all watch the year-long evolution of a class of kindergarten writers is so powerful! It's really amazing to see the development of writing and illustrating that happens.

After one of the presentations that I watched, parents had the opportunity to circulate in the classroom and listen to children read their writing pieces. This sharing occurred at tables and parents were wonderful about paying attention to the writing and honoring the work that children had done. I loved that this seemed more like a task of sharing and responding to writing than a task of paying attention to so many pieces of work in a row--it's hard to give full attention to twenty consecutive young readers!
  • By watching their writing improve the children develop a growth mindset.  Thinking about where we were then to where we are now is difficult for most adults, let alone six year-olds. However, when they saw the year-long evolution over the course of ten to fifteen minutes, almost all the children could say how far they've come as writers.
  • Parents learn about writing workshop. Most parents did not learn to write in a workshop environment and probably don't remember much about their own primary writing instruction. The more opportunities that we can have to teach and involve parents in their children's writing loves, the better for their children. And, as parents, don't we all want to hear about the growth our children are making? I loved how these presentations support the partnerships that we want between schools and parents.
  • Reading their work out loud in front of an audience would be hard for most kindergarteners, even at the end of the year. Pre-recording them reading, or just having photographs of their work eliminates this pressure and makes the celebration go much more smoothly and predictably.
  • Teachers reflect on their year, re-living the units that they taught and examining the work that students produced. Keeping portfolios of students' writing is general practice in our district but making a presentation of their work definitely makes teachers study those portfolios in June. At some point, I'd love to talk to these teachers about their own reflections about the sequencing of our units and the teaching points that live within them.
One of my favorite phrases about writing is "living life twice" and I credit Alan Wright. When I know that I will be writing about something, I am more present in that scene, reflect more about it, and learn more from it. I can imagine that if a teacher knew from the start of the school year that s/he would give an end of the year presentation about the evolution of the writers in the classroom to parents, s/he would live the writing workshop twice. 

I'd love to hear about celebrations, especially if teachers of older grades have ever done this sort of a presentation for their students at the end of the year.

Be well,


  1. An end of year celebration sounds wonderful, especially the aspect of involving parents. That's a piece about our writing workshop that I don't think much about, really, mostly because of logistics...and time. We celebrate the publishing of every genre- writers need that validation, I think, that sense of "bravo!" Alan's phrase struck me too, that is exactly what writing allows us to do!

  2. A fantastic end of the year celebration! I love that families were invited in to share with the celebration too!

  3. It is always so fun to look back and see where students started in their writing and where they are now. Perhaps Ruth's new book will have some suggestions for upper grades.

  4. What a wonderful celebration! Hope you're enjoying your summer!

  5. Celebrations are essential! Melanie, I gained immense joy reading about your end of year celebrations surrounding the learning journeys of both students and teachers. Thank you for sharing this important information. It is not only essential,but provides a sense of recognition and closure. It's great to reflect on the collective and individual achievements. Feeling good about one's efforts is remarkably energizing. You have provided a timely reminder of the importance of marking these milestones. Thank you also for the mention. I am humbled to think it has influenced your thinking around your life as a writer.