The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 50

As a kindergarten teacher, I quickly found myself disappointed in our basal reading program’s writing expectations. In September, the goal was to simply write a three word sentence using two sight words and one word spelled using inventive spelling. I knew this was too easy for my group because I had taught them the year before in pre-kindergarten and had moved up with them. I wanted to foster a creative environment where they would have plenty of opportunities to express themselves through writing. I purchased primary composition notebooks that had a space at the top of each page for pictures. This way I could easily show progress from the beginning to the end of the year. My students journaled in their notebooks every day, and then shared their writing with the class. Sometimes they had a prompt, and sometimes I left it up to them.

Early in the year, I had to set guidelines making the students write three sentences using sight words and inventive spelling. I also did fun writing projects to display in the hallway, such as designing and writing a story about their own lego figure. Displaying these projects resulted in my kindergarten team and my principal taking notice. My team had been teaching kindergarten longer than I had, but they had never thought that writing like this could be possible in kindergarten. Why would they believe it possible, when the basal set the bar so low?

With support from our principal, my team met weekly to discuss writing goals and lessons. After just a few weeks my team was loving the writing that they were seeing, and excited about the progress their class was making. Just as exciting as the writing progress was the improvement the students showed in reading. Good writers make good readers and having the students read and share their own writing on a daily basis makes a huge impact (Routman, 2003). They became more confident in their writing and reading skills.

During spring parent-teacher conferences I showed parents their child’s writing from their composition notebooks, comparing writing from the first week of September to writing from the week of conferences. Parents were astounded by the progress. The students with special needs in my class also showed progress in their writing, and I

Kindergarten writing lego stories

know that with all students regardless of their abilities progress is the goal. The road to success is progress, not perfection (Hurst & Reding, 2014). Although I have moved from Oklahoma back to my hometown in Missouri where I am pursuing my masters in reading education, my team continues to use the writing program we started, and they say it is their favorite part of the day.


Hurst, B., & Reding, G. (2014) Keeping the light in your eyes: Encouragement from teachers who still love to teach. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Routman, R. (2003). Reading essentials: The specifics you need to teach reading well. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Jackie Vanhooser taught kindergarten and public pre-kindergarten for five years in Oklahoma while her husband served in the Air Force. During her time there she was nominated for 'Teacher of the Year'. She returned to her hometown of Lebanon, MO last year and is currently pursuing her masters in literacy education.


Raising the Bar: Challenging Kindergarteners in Writing

Jackie Vanhooser

Classroom Close-up

Poet Brod Bragert is the author of over ten books of poetry for children, young adults, and adults. A former lawyer and New Orleans councilman, Bragert penned his first poem as a favor to his daughter. An active presence in schools nationalwide, Bragert compares himself to Johnny Appleseed because he

journeys across America, planting a love of poetry in children. He both performs poetry for children and instructs teachers in his performance method, a system which recognizes that poetry is an oral art as well as a written one.

Keynote Speaker


Brod Bragert— Keynote

“The Instructional Power of Poetry for Learning, Life and Laughter,” PK-16, All educators

Julius B. Anthony

“Affirming Early Literacy for St. Louis’ Black Children,” PK—3

Sam Bommarito

“Using Twitter and Other Social Media Technology for Enhancing Literacy

Instruction,” 1-9

Darcell Butler

“Language – The Montessori Way,” PK-3

Marla Conn

“Analyzing the Characteristics of Text When Planning Instruction,” PK-12,

Sharnez Givens

“Comic Classroom: Using Sequential Art as a Literacy Tool in the Classroom,” 6-12

Don Goble

“Beyond the Text: Literacy for a Digital Culture,” K-12

Eva Johnston

“Let’s Read! Building Kindergarten Readiness Skills and Learning Economics Through Children’s Literature,” PK-2

Karessa Morrow

“The Power of Reading,” PK-8

Glenda Nugent

“Engaging ALL Learners with Interactive Read Alouds,” PK-2

PDonna Rhinesmith

“Children’s Literature and Controversial Issues,” PK-16, All educators

Tamara Rhomberg and Bernard C. Turner

“Making the Most of Writer’s Workshop: Non-fiction Mini-Lessons that

Enhance Author Crafts,” 4-8

Join us for an informative, interactive, reasearch-based literacy conference for Pk-12. Session topics include differentiated insturction, reading and writing informational text, Guided Reading, poetry, Common Core, reading and writing workshop, comprehension strategy information, the techno-teacher, and more.