Have children write and read their own writing. Supply paper and writing utensils and invite children to write and illustrate their own stories. Have an author ’s chair ceremony to invite students to read and talk about their stories (or other genres such as reports, directions, and poems). A special classroom chair is designated as the author ’s chair—when a student sits in the author ’s chair, the other students sit in front of that child, ready and willing to listen to the child’s writing. If children use invented spellings, ask them to explain how they figured out how to write one or two intriguing examples.
Develop dialogue or chitchat journals. Provide each child with a notebook (preferably a composition style notebook that won’t lose its pages). Tell the children that these journals will give them the chance to tell you about anything they want. The only rules are that they must write at least two lines in their journals at least twice a week. They can write about their pets, their friends, their families, their favorite television shows. If they cannot think of anything to say, they still must write at least two lines, even if it is just “blah blah blah.”
Tell the children that twice a week you will read what they have written and that you also will follow the rules and contribute at least two lines each time.