How to Teach Early Writers

How to Teach Early Writers

Follow these top tips from conversations with an early years teacher and experienced literacy consultant.

Focus on Interests:

  • Engage students by tapping into their interests and passions, encouraging them to write about topics they care about.

Create Opportunities for Sharing:

  • Foster a culture of sharing by publishing student work, displaying it in the classroom, and allowing students to read their writing to peers and parents.

Provide Resources for Independence:

  • Equip students with tools such as alphabet charts, word walls, and pictorial representations to support their writing and encourage independence.

Encourage the Drawing and Writing Connection:

  • Emphasise the relationship between drawing and writing, allowing students to draw before writing to trigger ideas and provide visual support.

Promote Noticing:

  • Encourage students to notice and analyse elements of storytelling, language, and illustration in mentor texts, empowering them to incorporate these techniques into their own writing.

Support Differentiation:

  • Offer flexible approaches to accommodate varying student needs, including providing individualised support for those who require it while ensuring all students have entry points to engage in writing activities.

Value Student Work:

  • Celebrate and value student writing by providing opportunities for publication, sharing, and revisiting their work, reinforcing the idea that everyone in the classroom is a writer.

Provide Structured Lessons:

  • Structure writing lessons with clear writer actions, using mentor texts and anchor charts to guide instruction and model expectations.

Encourage Experimentation:

  • Encourage students to experiment with language, storytelling techniques, and writing conventions, fostering creativity and ownership in their writing.

Build a Community of Writers:

  • Cultivate a supportive classroom environment where students view themselves as writers, share their writing with others, and collaborate with peers in the writing process.

Foster a Writing Culture:

  • Establish a mindset where students see themselves as writers from an early age.
  • Use mentor texts like Eric Carle’s books to inspire young writers.
  • Make writing materials and tools accessible and inviting.

Emphasise Bravery:

  • Highlight bravery as a crucial trait of good writers.
  • Encourage students to take risks and try new things in their writing.
  • Provide positive reinforcement for brave writing attempts.

Use Interesting Words:

  • Introduce interesting vocabulary through mentor texts.
  • Engage students in discussions about why certain words are interesting.
  • Encourage students to incorporate interesting words into their own writing.

Provide Supportive Feedback:

  • Offer specific praise for writing efforts, focusing on bravery and improvement.
  • Use anchor charts to reinforce good writing strategies and actions.
  • Offer constructive feedback during roving sessions, guiding students to reflect on their writing choices.

Incorporate Phonics and Spelling:

  • Integrate phonics instruction with writing, using mentor texts to introduce new sounds.
  • Scaffold phonics learning by starting with single sounds and gradually introducing multiple sounds for each letter.
  • Help students notice letter-sound correspondences in words they encounter in literature and daily life.

Encourage Volume and Variety:

  • Provide ample time for writing activities, allowing students to engage in extended writing sessions.
  • Offer a variety of writing tasks and genres to keep students engaged and motivated.
  • Support early writers in expanding their stories and ideas, encouraging them to add detail and complexity to their writing.

Celebrate and Publish Student Work:

  • Create opportunities for students to share and celebrate their writing with peers and the wider school community.
  • Foster a sense of pride and ownership in student writing by publishing their work in various formats, such as class books or displays.
  • Use student writing as a basis for meaningful literacy experiences, such as shared reading and word wall activities.

Track Progress and Provide Differentiated Support:

  • Use tools like Richard Gentry’s five-stage phase for early writing to track students’ progress and understand their current writing abilities.
  • Provide targeted support and instruction based on students’ individual needs and developmental stages.
  • Encourage reflection and self-assessment, empowering students to take ownership of their writing growth.

RESOURCES

  • PDF: Richard Gentry’s five-stage phase for early writing
  • PODCAST TRANSCRIPT: Teaching Early Writers: From Program to Professional Plan – here
  • PODCASTS: Teaching Early Writers: From Program to Professional Plan – Part 1, Part 2

10 TOP TIPS FOR EARLY WRITERS, IN CHILD FRIENDLY LANGUAGE

  1. Write About What You Love:
  • Choose topics that interest you and inspire your creativity.
  1. Share Your Writing:
  • Share your stories with classmates, family, and friends to receive feedback and encouragement.
  1. Use Writing Tools:
  • Make use of tools like alphabet charts and word walls to help you spell and organise your ideas independently.
  1. Draw to Spark Ideas:
  • Start by drawing pictures related to your story to help you visualise your ideas before writing them down.
  1. Learn from Other Stories:
  • Pay attention to how authors tell stories, use language, and create illustrations in books you enjoy.
  1. Find Your Writing Style:
  • Experiment with different writing styles, techniques, and genres to discover what works best for you.
  1. Be Brave in Your Writing:
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things or take risks with your writing. Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow.
  1. Use Exciting Words:
  • Explore new vocabulary words and incorporate them into your writing to make your stories more interesting.
  1. Seek Feedback:
  • Ask for feedback from teachers, peers, and family members to help you improve your writing skills.
  1. Practise Phonics and Spelling:
  • Practise sounding out words and learn spelling rules to help you become a better writer.
  • Notice how letters and sounds work together in words you read and write.

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