Writing Grows Reading - K-2nd

I love learning from Natalie Louis at Teachers College Reading Institute.  She was a kindergarten teacher in Harlem, NY and knows her stuff.  Not only that, she is funny!  And real!  I feel like I know her because every time I go to one of her sessions she shares a little of her life.  This year I was lucky enough to get into her session about "Writing Growing Reading" in primary grades.  Here's what she said:

Top Ten Ways Writing Teaches You to Read

1 It’s YOURS - What early readers struggle with is figuring out the code. (MSV-meaning, structure and visual cues ) It’s not making sense of the picture, it’s not language, it’s really the visual symbols that are all the problem.  What writing does is- I already know the M, I can use the S, to get to the V.  In reading, how will they start to read conventional books? It’s someone else’s meaning. In writing, it’s mine and I can make meaning and I care about it. meaning and syntax make you work harder at V.

2 Writing is the game and Phonics is the practice.  Most kids will do writing workshop even struggling right away.  They like drawing pictures and talking about pictures.  If you played sports, you know you didn’t play to go to the practice.  The letters part is not fun it’s the practice for the writing which is the game.  When it’s time to write about what you really want to write you want the phonics to get it right.

3 Writing is the slowest of the 4 literacy skills - literacy, speaking, writing, reading.
So what that does is it makes you go slow.  Which is what you need for beginning reading.  The code is the hardest part in the beginning of reading.  When you sound out hold the sounds exceptionally long for the kids and make them do it too.  That slowness when you sound out words to put on the page makes you really think about what you are doing. 

4 Writing reveals the taking apart and building up potential of the code.  When they read they think you are just supposed to know it.  When they write they learn that you put them together and take them apart to make them in different ways. You pay close attention to this while writing.  In reading saw and was look the same because they aren’t paying attention closely  In writing you look at it over and over and wouldn’t make that mistake.  Practice making letters with gross and then fine motor the correct way.  Handwriiting really matters for fluency.  If you push instead of pull in writing you are going to tear your paper a lot and it s more frustrating.If you don’t fix it in K and 1 no one is ever gonna fix it.  Writing highlights forming, clusters and grouping of letters too.

5 Readers and Writers use the same sources of info. MSV (meaning, syntax, visual) they use them to make their stories and then they will use those sources to read a story. 

6 Writers go from sound to print.  Readers go from print to sound. That’s why phonemic awareness is so important (ability to hear sounds in words).  So if you are doing that work of "say a word and put it down" and then in reading you see that symbol and can much easier generate a sound.

7 Kids go from letters to labels to phrases to sentences in writing.  After they draw a picture for their story, she taught them to write blanks next to all the objects and actions in the picture (story).  When they can they learn to label and then phrase.  Don’t write just slide next to the drawing of the slide, teach them to write “hot slide” “fast slide”.

8 The power of the pointer finger.  Your finger helps you keep track of where you go when you are writing. When you teach the pointer finger make sure you say to them:  first point to the middle of the word and then the first letter of the word.

9 Make sure reading and rereading happens constantly in the writers workshop.  That way that behavior is second nature in their own reading.  Have a “rereading emergency” and have them stow their pencil behind their ear and only reread for a minute.

10 As many times as you can make the reading and writing connection explicit.  Point out everything to them so they begin to make the connect. 

Side note about keeping your mini lesson mini:  To train myself for time in mini lessons when the timer goes off I would just say off you go!  It doesn’t matter what other amazing thing I have to say if no one is listening.  I learned to keep to my time. 

Love that tip!  Thanks Natalie!