|Posted by meaningmatters on November 18, 2012 at 8:20 PM|
Written By Kim Turgeon
Different types of writing make writing attainable and inviting to different students. As teachers, it is our job to engage our students in experiences with writing: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc. One type of writing that I have found to be the most powerful in helping struggling writers excel and take risks is labeling.
Struggling writers often find the idea of transferring their thoughts to writing as a daunting task. Labeling is a safer entry point that is none the less powerful. It is important for you to emphasise the value in labeling so that even your advanced writers see its power. Labeling opens up discussion about how powerful words can be when they are not in a long story; just look at diagrams in non-fiction text.
When lessons on labeling are connected to environmental print, the lessons are even more engaging. Environmental Print is the print of everyday life: the symbols, signs, numbers, and colors found in Dunkin Donuts, Target, Mobil, Pizza Hut, on Coke bott;es, and on websites, for instance. Signs such as these offer excellent entry points for young children to begin to learn to read and write because children have concrete experiences with them every day.
Environmental print first came into the view of the educational community when researchers discovered that very young children were capable of reading print in their environment. If you watch a child in the block area begin to play with labeling you will often see them create labels such as “zoo” or “stop." These familiar sight words build confidence that helps them take future risks.
The following are two labeling projects connected to community and the environmental print that surrounds us.
Building A Gingerbread Community
In an effort to have fun around the holidays, our class constructed a Gingerbread Community. We began by discussing what a community is and who and what is part of our community. Children were asked to look carefully as they walked or drove to school and think about what buildings and signs surround them. Children were then paired up and asked to decide what building or buildings they would contribute to our gingerbread community. Then the fun began…they set off to build and label their structure(s).
Come see a video of how the labeling of a gingerbread community became as much fun as creating it...
The second project was again related to constructing a community. After reading the book Snow, by Uri Shulevitz, our class thought about what buildings are seen in a city. We then created city mural and labeled each building.
During these projects, not one child thought twice about labeling or said, “I can’t write that.” Engaging, purposeful writing activities drive even the most struggling writer to write, because they are writing for a reason.
How can I make writing relevant in my home?
Parents often ask how they can encourage writing at home. Here are some ways in which you can incorporate labeling into your home (post it notes are fun and make great labeling tools):
- Have your child label the play food containers for your play kitchen
- Have your child label what clothes go in each drawer so that dad knows where to put the laundry away
- Label the rooms so that visitors can find the bathroom, playroom etc.
- Label your bookshelf so that babysitters know where to find different topics of books
- Label toy shelves so that friends know where to put each toy during clean up