Writing to Read
When our Downstairs students are finished with lunch, we ask them to wait for their friends who are still eating by grabbing a book to read. Even our three year-olds are developing the habit of finding books which enthrall, entertain, and inform them. At this point they might only know how to spell their own name, but they have started down a path of discovery and they soon will be learning to spell their friends’ names, to identify simple common words, and to create letters, words and sentences on their own.
At Randolph we write to read, which means that we create and facilitate real and meaningful opportunities for our students to express themselves with a crayon, marker or pen from the moment they enter our school. We label important things, and create lots of signs for our rooms. We write captions to cartoons, we write down our opinions, our observation, and our fantastical stories. Our older students relive the tales they have read in class about the Civil War by writing imaginary letters home to Confederate or Union families. We also do a lot of drawing in our journals because we know pictures contain meaningful stories that can later be written by the student, or dictated to a teacher.
And as we are writing, we are learning to read. We share cartoons we wrote and illustrated with our friends. We read the products for sale at Math Mall. We start to read the words “star” and “wars” because we have had to spell them for our stories so often. Before long, our students are crumpled together on a sofa, reading a graphic novel together, or are gathered quietly in rooms with our heads buried in books. It is a process that unfolds over time, and that requires a lot of skill, patience and attention by our teachers. But the process results in students who are reading and writing for the most powerful of reasons: They love it.
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