Teaching writing in kindergarten can be so tricky! Not only do our students come to us with wide ranges of writing abilities, but it can also be difficult to know what exactly we should be expecting of our students when it comes to writing. One thing that has always helped me is knowing what I want my students to be able to produce by the end of the year. It helps guide my instruction and helps me to plan lessons that will get students to those goals. Throughout the year, I keep in mind that I am working towards these four end-of-the-year writing goals for kindergarten.
Goal #1 Using Capitalization
One huge goal that I have for my kindergarten students is that they use capitalization. At the beginning of the year, teaching capitalization may look like showing students to use capital letters in their names and just teaching how to write both uppercase and lowercase letters. By the end of the year, I expect students to use capitalization at the beginning of every sentence that they write.
Goal #2 Using Punctuation
Throughout their entire writing careers, students will be expected to use punctuation marks. That is why it is so important to set the groundwork in kindergarten. This means explicitly teaching different ending punctuation marks, drawing attention to punctuation marks in the books we read, and modeling adding punctuation at the end of sentences. Then, hopefully by the end of the year, students can independently (and correctly) use punctuation at the end of each sentence.
Goal #3 Spacing
Spacing is another skill that is a great end-of-the-year writing goal for students. Throughout the year, I have my students practice putting their fingers after each word they write so that there is a space before the next word. This is a great way to help them remember to put spaces before the process becomes automatic. It is also a good idea to point out spaces in printed books and written poems so that students can see that spacing is something that all writers do.
Goal #4 Writing a Beginning, Middle, and End
At the beginning of the year in kindergarten, students mainly rely on their pictures to tell their stories. In the middle of the year, they may have a sentence that accompanies their pictures by using sight words they have learned. However, by the end of the year, I want my students to be able to write multiple sentences, so that their stories can have a beginning, middle, and end. After all, being a good writer isn’t just about having the correct mechanics but also about being able to clearly share an idea.
In order to help my students remember these goals as they are writing, I created a 5-Star Writing page. Each student has their own mini chart at their desk. As they are writing and before they can say their writing is complete, I have them check each point on the page and make sure they have reached all of the goals. Not only does it remind them of their expectations, but it also gives them a self-accountability piece.
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Teaching writing is a struggle for many kindergarten teachers because it seems difficult to know where to even start with our young writers. Keeping the end-of-the-year writing goals in mind and letting students know what those goals are will make planning writing lessons throughout the year simpler and more effective.