George Lucas Educational Foundation

Kid Writing (Inventive Spelling)

Kid Writing (Inventive Spelling)

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I am a kindergarten teacher and I attended a workshop over the summer called "Connecting Literacy Content, Teaching, and Learning. During the two day workshop, kid writing was brought up. My feeling on "kid writing" was that it helps the students with their phonics skills. I have my class do "kid writing" weekly and we make their writings into books, send them home to be viewed by their parents, and returned for their portfolios. According to the speech therapist that was also in attendance, she felt it was not good for students to use "kid writing". Anyone have an opinion that they would like to share?

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Laura Miller's picture

I was very excited to find this forum for kidwriting. I am a kindergarten teacher and have used the kidwriting program in my classroom for five years. It is amazing to see the growth of my student's writing throughout the year. What I like best about kidwriting is that it encourages kids to take chances with their writing. Many times student s will worry too much about how to spell a word and when this happens, the focus on the writing process is lost. When we are writing in our journals I don't want my student s to shy away from writing something because they can't spell it. We write in our journals every day. Students are encouraged to start with a picture and use their picture to start their sentence or story. By this time of the year, most of my students can stretch their words out to create their own invented spelling. I walk around helping those who are unable to stretch their own words. Once their sentence is complete, I write the "adult writing" underneath their writing. I always point out a positive from their "kidwriting" and include something I want them to work on. We conclude our journal session with a mini lesson. I base my mini lessons on a student's work from that day.

Lauren S's picture

This blog is a great place to discuss different methods for writing instruction. I have never heard of "kidwriting" is it some type of program or curriculum?
I am a first grade teacher and I follow a writer's workshop model. Each day for writing I begin with a 5 to 10 minute mini lesson down at carpet and use chart paper to model. Then students go to their desk and write about whatever they would like (sometimes they write to a prompt). They draw a picture and write their sentences. At the end of writing time sometimes we gather back down at carpet to recap or share the student's writing.
During writing, students are to sound out words on their own, though I have also taught them to use their resources. They can find how to spell a day of the week word at calendar, they can find how to spell a color word from a poster in class, and they also have the whole word wall. Our word wall has all the words they are learning through our reading curriculum, in 1st grade as well as the words from kindergarten. My expectation for them, as far as spelling, is to have the words in their papers that are available to them, spelled correctly. Beyond those words, students should be sounding out and use their phonics skills.
Throughout the year, students learn more about spelling by the books they are reading. As their reading level gets higher there writing also seems to increase. By allowing the students to write about their choice of topic it forces them to create their own ideas and write about something they know a lot about. Their voice in their writing is typically great because the writing they are doing is about them.
As I said, I also have them write to a prompt, because as mentioned in other posts, students in upper grades do not always get the luxury of what they want to write about. Students need to be able write to inform. At the beginning of their writing career, students need to have time to learn to love writing and in turn, I do not feel that spelling needs to be correct.

Marina's picture

I am a first grade teacher and my students use inventive spelling when writing in their daily journals and also when when drafting stories during writer's workshop. I love using inventive spelling because I believe that it does not limit the student's writing. I want them to take risks as writers and not be afraid to make mistakes. I have seen a tremendous amount of growth throughout the year. We do have weekly spelling tests where the class is assigned and expected to spell words correctly. I have found that eventually the students will transfer the use of traditional words into their own writing as they gain exposure to the world of print. I have a found that during writers workshop, when groups of students collaborate to do peer revisions on their drafts, they often correct their own spelling. I also have a word wall and word books to assist in writing activities. I think that if we provide a balance of traditional and inventive spelling the potential for growth is very promising!

Megan McIntyre's picture

I completely believe in kid writing and I teach 4th grade! We do take a state achievement test but this really doesn't affect their scores becuase I also teach them to edit their papers and I go over papers with them. If kids are always looking words up or having others spell for them they don't learn how to sound out words. Also I know in our state (Ohio) they only count misspellings on easier words when grading the test.

Megan McIntyre's picture

I completely believe in kid writing and I teach 4th grade. We also take a state achievement test but this doesn't affect their scores because I also teach them how to edit and I look over their papers with them. If they always looked words up or had someone spell for them they would never learn to sound words out. I also don't think that on their first or second draft they should be stiffled with spelling and grammar that can be corrected during the editing process.

Julie A. Leszczynski's picture

I teach Kindergarten, and currently use Writers Workshop. I like some aspects of the program but do not feel like it is strong enough. What is kidwriting all about? Is it effective? I encourage inventive spelling and just like Marina, agree that it is a great way to not put limits on a students writing. I also introduce new sight words daily. Each sight word is put on a card and the students are flashed the words before our literacy lesson. I put all words on white index cards and all chunk words in red. The chunk words they say-spell-say as we go through them. I have found that introducing chunk words allows the students to get the sounds they need when writing. For example, when writing the word "cheese" some will ask, "what letter is /ch/?" Since the students see these words everyday, other students will help out and chime in with the correct two letters. I also post the chunk letters as well as the sight words on the walls.

Joselyn Iglesia's picture

I am a kindergarten teacher, I do not know what "kid writing" is? I am so proud of all my students. When I tell them to write in their journals, none of them even sigh, they are happy to do it. They are thrilled at writing and then having to read it or show their picture at "author's chair", then they get a special handclap. I am amazed at how far they have come, in just a couple of days from the 100th day of school.

Chris Ott's picture

I got into teaching early writers due to seeing the MAGIC that happens when young writers progress along the continum from scribbling lines on paper to making letter/sound connections to finally complete paragraphs with all the conventions. I see really "off" inventive spellings as an opportunity to work 1 on 1 with students to ask them what word they are trying to spell...often they are mispronouncing or incorrectly articulating the word they are trying to spell. Ie. they say "chruck" instead of truck. Good teachers work with students to tell them how to correctly say the sounds they are mixed up on--sometimes these students are referred for more professional help to the school's speech/language professional for therapy.

P.S. I still have boxes of my 20 something daughter's early writings...they are treasures!

Rachel's picture

I am not familiar with "kidwriting," but I am guessing that it is very similar to "brave spelling" or "inventive spelling." I have a question that is more or less along the same train of thought. I am a kindergarten teacher and have been thrilled with the process that my students have made in their spelling so far this year. Many of them have come from scribbles to using actual letters and words. I have taught them that it is ok to look around the room and copy things that they see. I have modeled writing a morning message to them daily and I have also modeled a free-write journal entry daily. However, many of my students continue to copy unrelated words from around the room and make no attempt to form sentences or convey their own ideas. Should I be worried or is this simply a phase? If this is something that I should be worried about, how do I move them on in their writing?

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture

I saw this first-hand when the Edutopia team visited Auburn Early Education Center, an all-kindergarten school, a few years ago.

At first I was confused as to why the teachers didn't correct the spelling, but the teachers explained to me that they first wanted to help the kids see themselves as confident writers, and could worry about corrections later, when they had successfully instilled a love of the medium.

This was a fantastic school with daily journal-writing and sharing. Check it out in action in this video:

Five-Year-Olds Pilot Their Own Project-Based Learning

Or click this link:

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