Let me preface this by saying that it took me a few years of experimenting to find a structure that works for me. It is by no means the only way to do it, but I love how our celebrations really build pride in my young writers.
So this is what we do. At the end of a unit we spend a few days “publishing.” My kids select their favorite piece from their writing folder (according to some criteria) and then fix it up and color it. For our first unit there is not much fixing up, so the big deal is that they can color the picture. (We only use pens and pencils at other times.) I mount their piece on construction paper and transcribe their text on the construction paper. This way they will be able to read it in years to come, but I am not actually writing on their work, which I think can be deflating to kids. Here are a few examples of the published pieces we had this time:
As you can see, their skills are all across the map, which is pretty typical this time of year in kindergarten.
Next, I schedule a celebration, and I invite guests. I ask the principal, special ed teachers, parapros, speech therapists, literacy coaches – anyone who might be able to spare fifteen minutes (and so generally people who do not have their own class). I also ask my husband and daughter to come, which has become a wonderful tradition.
On the morning of the celebration I stick all of the published pieces up on to a piece of butcher paper, creating a gallery of sorts.
I then cover the gallery up. Right now I do that by hanging a blanket in front of it. The blanket is clipped up on a string using two clothespins. In the past, when I was in a different room, I used our pull down shade. The point is to cover it. This creates instant intrigue, and it allows for a big reveal!
When the celebration starts, we begin by listing all the things that we learned in the unit. This is a great review, and also lets the kids know that we are celebrating specific growth. I am always surprised and thrilled at how many specific points they can remember! Here is our completely student generated list from this celebration:
Once this part is finished, we have the reveal! Counting down from five, we drop the curtain and clap and cheer as the kids get the first sight of their gallery of work! They are always thrilled to find their pieces displayed. I then slowly remove the pieces one by one from the gallery. When I take one down, that student author stands and bows as we clap for him or her specifically. This is also very powerful, as each student gets recognition for their work.
Finally, I hand out the pieces and the students read them to our guests. This part is amazing. The kids get opportunities to read their work multiple times to special people. They answer questions, and they are incredibly proud. They are often very surprised, and thrilled, to learn that people came to our room just to hear their writing. I think this is huge in terms of building writing identity and a sense of audience – in terms of building writers. Here are a few snaps of these powerful moments:
Do you have writing celebrations in your class? How do you celebrate?