Writing Naturally


This is how learning happens.  It begins with an idea and flows naturally into purposeful  practice.  The meaningful context makes the learning “sticky”.  Connections are made between emotions, previous experiences, practical applications,   The development of relationships between ideas in the brain foster even stronger connections.  We hold the strongest, most well trafficked connections for years, sometimes for  the rest of our lives.

The boy on the left decided that too many people wanted a turn with the stuffed alligator at rest time.  We understood his concern but were unsure if there really was a demand.  We suggested he take a poll.  He proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes engaged in sounding-out* each of the words for his question and polling the entire class.  He then analyzed the results and found that most of the children did, indeed, want a turn with the alligator.

Last year we had a similar problem with a stuffed dog.  This child remembered the solution from last year and decided to replicate it. (In fact it might have been his idea last year!)  He gathered all of the students’ names and created a list.  Each day, the next person on the list will have an opportunity to rest with the alligator.

The example above begins as learning frequently does, with a problem.  The child considered the problem and compared it with his previous experiences.  He recalled a strategy to “fix” the problem.  To solve his dilemma, he had to access memory of:

  • surveys
  • letter-sounds
  • print directions
  • letter-shapes
  • concepts of word (what constitutes a word? how can I stretch it out?)
  • who have I already asked and who is still waiting?
  • tally marks
  • some sight words (yes, no)
  • what do lists look like?
  • how to fit many items on a page
  • titles (his list has one)
  • counting concepts
  • motor skills required for writing
  • experiences from last school year

Each of these islands of skills and knowledge have been practiced many times and connected to multiple experiences.  Using them again for this project more firmly cements them into his collection of information about writing and problem solving.

finding relationships=strong connections=longer memory

*sounding-out : to slowly stretch out a word orally into it’s individual phonemes or sounds; used to discover the letter sounds within words; used to writing down “the sounds you hear” when you are beginning to read and write