Ideas for Journal Entries
Help a child think of something that would be nice to remember years from now, something exciting coming up, or something from a story. Ask questions and encourage details or feelings. Then have the child say it in one complete sentence. Make sure it’s the exact words. Write it down in a hidden place if needed, so you don’t change what was said.
The child is expected to write as much as possible. A mental or written list of known words and known letters will help guide you. You write words that are too difficult, or use a separate working page writing it on the journal page. Include proper spacing and punctuation.
Phonemic awareness, knowledge of phonics, and word recognition can be improved through writing.
Learning letters and sounds: Have a beginning writer write an almost known letter three times, making the sound as he or she writes on a dry erase board or separate working page. Make it fun. Say, “Write it big. Write it small.” Then ask the writer to write it on the journal page.
Learning high frequency words: Have a child practice a high frequency word three times on the working page. Have the child say the sounds for the letters as letters are written if there is a letter-sound match. Teach phonic rules and show tricky rule breakers. At first a beginning writer may need to copy the word. Encourage writing without looking once the word is almost known. You can even make the word with magnetic letters, mix it up, and put it back together before writing a word on the journal page.
Learning to hear and record sounds in words: Separate sounds for at least one word from a journal entry. Make lines for each sound in the word, not each letter, on the working page. For a child just developing phonemic awareness say the word slowly, and then break it into separate sounds touching each line as you say the sound. Encourage a beginning writer to do this with you a number of times before writing correct letters for sounds. Only use lines when a word follows phonetic rules. Ask the writer to tell a sound or letter he or she hears. Record that sound above the correct line. A beginning reader and writer may not give you the sounds in order or give all the sounds. Touch and say each sound in order, stretching the sounds without pausing between. Then blend the sounds together to sound like the word. As a child’s phonemic awareness improves he or she will take over more of the task. Your modeling will help.
Learning features of printed English: Draw attention to tricky parts and patterns.
Examples: ed endings make different sounds; silent letters, ‘e’ at the end, ‘b’ next to an ‘m’, or ‘k’ at beginning; doubling final consonants in some words when adding ‘ing’ ‘ed’ ‘est’; dropping ‘e’ in some words when adding an ending; common combinations (like oa, oo, ai, ow, ur, ar, ight, tion); a ‘c’ or a ‘g’ next to an ‘e’ will make the soft sound; and unusual spellings. The list goes on. If you don’t know a rule or the learner tries to make a connection that isn’t usually true, just say not all words have rules. This is the way we write this word.
Generalizing and grouping: If you know a pattern or a child is trying to make a connection, write a list of similar words on the working page. (Walk, talk, chalk) (Night, right, light)
Encourage Independence: Once a beginning writer understands the task, let the child do every other entry alone. Tell the beginning writer to write words the best he or she can. Praise correct or almost correct writing. Ask what the sentence says if needed and write it correctly in smaller writing somewhere on the page.
Reading Fluency: Have the journal writer read previous entries.
Together Time 4 Families has a post worth checking out to teach and support a beginning writer. http://www.togethertime4families.com/2010/07/scaffolded-writing-method.html
Michelle's Charm World shows ways to make writing areas inviting and fun.
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