Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Reader Asks... Kindergarten and 1st Grade Critical Writing

A new LYS Principal asks the following:


I have been doing my PowerWalks since our training this Fall. I have just a few questions on what Critical Writing should look like in our Kindergarten and 1st Grade classrooms. Could you provide some examples?

SC Response
First, a reality check. In Kindergarten and 1st Grade classrooms you will see the least amount of Critical Writing. Which means you want to see A LOT of small group purposeful talk.

In Kindergarten, a commonly observed form of Critical Writing is student drawings with the students explaining their thinking or the story.

In 1st Grade the expectation is higher. Students should be able to write a full sentence explaining their thinking (don't worry about spelling and punctuation). 

Below are some Critical Writing ideas for Kindergarten and first semester 1st Grade classrooms.

Critical Writing in Reading
As the teacher reads a story to students, she pauses to allow students to talk about their predictions of what will happen next.  As students talk, the teacher records their thinking with a picture drawn in a windowpane organizer.
Draw/describe how the main character in a story feels at the beginning of the story.
Draw/describe how the feelings of the main character in a story change over time.
Critical Writing in Math
Draw a picture illustrating what is happening in a story problem.
Draw/explain what would happen if two groups are combined. 
Critical Writing in Science 
Draw a picture (then explain) of what you know about _________.
Draw a picture (then explain) of something new you learned about ___________.
Draw a picture (then explain) of the most important safety rule.  Defend your answer.
Critical Writing in Any Setting
Dictate or write the most important thing you learned about ____________________.
Dictate or write a question you have about ______________________.
Draw a picture of what you already know about ____________________. 
Visit Classrooms… Beat Cancer!
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on! 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: The National Principals Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote) 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
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