Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

Written Requests – Success!!!

Written Requests…

Today, in the studio, Chase found…

these behind the gate, in the teacher alley and he asked me if he could use them…

and I told him he had to ask Jaala, who was out today…

Jaala, you have a letter of request on your computer screen…

Love. love. love.

Snail Stories

“The Secret Jungle” Book 1 by Vega Rietberg (2nd Grade)

Charlie’s Stories


“Airplane.  My airplane is my favorite airplane.  Eight people can fit in my airplane.”

“My dad is flying in the airplane.  My mom is a mom that works at a place that makes airplanes.”

“My dad flies Delta and he is a Airbus 330.”

“The helicopter is at my hanger and my dad is in a helicopter.”


“My pumpkin is medium-sized and it is going to be cool.

“I will get it at Tony’s Market.”

Reading, Writing, Processing Feelings

Charlie had just read Go, Dog, Go cover to cover but he read a bit to me so I could record him for prosperity.

Kailee sounds out her topic writing.  The topic this day was “what is your favorite thing.”  My hand must have been over the microphone in part of this one.  Also some processing going on in this one.

Kailee reads hers once she is done with her first draft.

Asher also processes here.  His first draft.

Iris reads her topic, also her first draft.


Everyday we have “topic” time after lunch.  It is usually Asher’s job to come up with the topic but this late in the year, he’s sometimes stumped for an idea.  On these days I get to through these types of topics at them.  There was some moaning and some nervous laughter but they were so very interesting and in-depth.  Here are two in particular that seem to need to be a part of  a larger sociology project.  So sweet too!

Daily Writing Topics

Here are a few of our writing topics:


A new recipe by Isaac.


playschool (was written on the second page).

If I ran the school by Amalie.


In the forest by Zavier.

The Evolution of the Journal

We have always used journals in our classroom.  In the first days, three years ago, I made the journals and they were mostly used for drawing, getting use to pen/pencil on paper, practicing our letters by writing our names and our favorite words – usually by labeling our drawings.

As the kids got older, they began making book long stories.  Some kids would write about their lives, some would make up stories about animals or trips.  Then we hit a time where some of the kids were choosing to draw and write about war/fighting/battles.  We decided to let it go, to let them work it out, thinking there would be an end or at least an occasional variation on the topic.  But that didn’t happen.

So we decided to begin having a list of topics that the kids come up with, minus the war/fighting/battle theme and then we started pulling from this list for the daily topic.  This is what happens now, on a daily basis.  There are minimum writing requirements (but no maximum), which varies by individual/group.

But there are also times that we make books with one story line.  Every year we enter the Reading Rainbow story writing contest, which has word/illustration requirements.  A good way to get a feeling for what it takes to submit writing for publication.  We write multiple drafts for this project, making sure we correct our inventive spelling and create a finished project for others to read.

Everyone in the classroom is still an emerging writer – everyone at a different place.  The kindergartners are really just beginning to get their footing in this new medium.  It is such a great way to learn to read, this act of putting letters down to make words that link into sentences.

We approach this in various ways.  We sometimes dictate stories, we sometimes talk them through the spelling of words and then try to get to the point where the kids can inventive spell.  Once they feel comfortable doing this, then we look at their writing, go over it, correcting any misspellings, punctuation and work on content (this being a three year process).

This is a gentle path we take.  Too much creates a sense of impossibility, frustration and sometimes stops the progression.  But too little keeps them from moving forward.  We keep close track of the kids and where they are and what they are capable of not only academically but emotionally as well.  We want it to be fun.  A place to create ideas, tell stories, learn, read, write, come together and move forward in this journey.

We have bound the first part of the years topics and they are now a part of our classroom library.  They read their own and are often read to each other just like the published books in our classroom. You can find our current writing topics outside of the classroom on the wall.

As a teacher and a writer, this is one of the most thrilling parts of my job.  I love to experience the acquisition of the written language on a daily basis.  It is amazing every single time a kids takes the next step in the reading/writing journey.  It’s magic.  It’s hard work.  It’s fun.  It’s a long, long road that we take one step at a time.

Looking Back – Looking Ahead

I’m sorry.  I haven’t been as attentive to journaling this journey as I normally am.  I’ve literally been sick for two months.  Not sure what is up, just got behind on one cold and the next came after me and then another.  I’ll find my way out eventually.  Soon the fog of snot and hacking with lift and the sun will shine and we’ll be off to more energizing adventures in class and within these pages.

I’ve also been ruminating on the evolution of our classroom.  How we’ve come form there to here.  How our families, or world has changed.  How many of our new families may not know about all of those wonderful pieces that made up the beginnings of this classroom and the beginnings of the teacher who learns along with the kids each day.

The other day, a current preschool parent/prospective Mystery Bay Classroom parent, stopped outside the classroom to read an article I had written for publication just as I was starting the K-2 program.  She stood and stood and read and read as I cleaned up after class.  She then came over and hugged me and said, “Michelle, that is beautiful, it just made my day better.”  And you know what, it is beautiful.  It is all about the building blocks of this very classroom.  How we came to be, what we truly believe, how we try to learn and grow each and every day.

So, if you are new, or sort of new, may be new next year or just never got the chance to read through our first days as well as my first days, I’m re-posting the article.  Maybe it will answer some questions you may have, maybe it will bring up some questions that you are more than encouraged to ask and maybe it will make your day better.

“We Make the Road by Walking”:  A Lifelong Journey – Buiding a K-2 Learning Environment by Michelle Taylor

Peace, Love and Chicken Soup.

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