Word Up Kids offers a progressive intervention program for English Language Learners pre-K through eighth grade that focuses on reading, writing, and oral language development. The ongoing enrichment program includes whole class and small group activities, which aim to increase students’ confidence in all facets of the English Language.
We strive to provide an environment where everyone learns and enjoys the benefits of writing. We help each student increase self-confidence and independence through writing.
Our approach is an amalgamation of progressive teaching techniques including Jack Grapes’ Method Writing, Vivian Paley’s Storytelling curriculum, and Whole Brain Teaching.
The pivot upon which our curriculum turns is the Creative Journal.
The applications of creative journal-keeping makes learning to write, read and speak English more personal and alive. It is free of the grades and negative judgment that often cause blocks and resistance to learning.
Creative journaling is easily implemented, consistently used, and popular with children. Journal keeping provides pressure-free practice in language and thought, and develops a habit of organizing and communicating experience in visual and verbal forms.
Students are encouraged to read their writing aloud in small groups, or with a partner, which serves to increase their enjoyment and confidence – while helping them overcome psychological blocks that often develop when students are considered “the other” in their normal classroom experience.
Student who keep a creative journal exhibit an increase in language skills; greater ease of communication; improvement in handling and expressing difficult emotions; that arise in the process of learning English; increased interest in writing for pleasure; increased self-motivation and self-esteem.
Our program offers a setting in which students can get over their self-consciousness about the products of their expression and can enjoy the process of writing. After some experience with this unthreatening form of communication, the children stop saying, “I can’t do it,” and learn to enjoy the pleasures of the English language.
Whole Brain Teaching
Children love this upbeat, interactive form of instruction that delivers information to them in short “chunks.” Kids then teach what they have just learned to their partners, using hand-gestures to help remember specific vocabulary. While students teach each other, the teacher walks around the room to discover who understands the lesson and who needs more instruction.
Research shows that children retain more information when they have an opportunity to put it into their own words and use gestures to emphasize key instructional units …plus, it’s serious fun.
Method writing is an organic approach to the creative process, a way of finding your deep, authentic voice. The method does not deal with traditional approaches to writing that emphasize structure and form—the three-act structure of the screenplay, formal approaches to the novel, etc.
Like method acting, which focuses on truth and organic process, Method Writing deals with the inner voice and how it can be used to create unique works of writing, true to your own voice and style, true to your own vision and point of view, true to your own life experience.
Vivian Paley’s Storytelling Curriculum
Vivian Gussin Paley’s ‘storytelling curriculum’ consists of two interdependent activities, dictation and dramatization. It has long been recognized for its impact on young children’s psychosocial, language, and narrative development. Dictating and dramatizing original stories in the classroom is a holistic, play-based activity that also promotes oral language development and word study.
Reading to children is so essential because it inspires them to want to learn to write and read better. We incorporate mirroring techniques in this, whereby students repeat selected lines and phrases from the reading, because repetition of words and phrases provides children with opportunities to actively participate in the story and increase their word retention.
We build connections between home and school by including parents in classroom activities. We invite them to visit the classroom just to observe, and to participate in creative writing & expression exercises.
We also ask them to share a favorite activity with the class. We encourage them to use their home language to describe the activity, so that we affirm the language and culture of the children who speak that language. Sometimes just the very presence of these visitors increases children’s comfort and confidence.
We request that parents and family members to read to their children in the home language. This practice illustrates the value of the home language and provides parents with an opportunity to foster important reading and literacy skills that can later be transferred to English reading.
We Provide English Language Learners with opportunities to read books in their home language and culturally relevant books. This helps to increase engagement. Engagement can also be promoted by allowing students to choose activities and reading materials, by providing challenging and interesting activities, by establishing connections between reading and out-of-school experiences, and by nurturing students’ developing sense of themselves as readers and authors.
What Parents Are Saying
“My son Michael has just come to the US 6 months ago. His English fluency, especially writing proficiency, was lacking. I am thankful to you for helping Michael to have an enjoyable experience in writing. You should be proud for keeping up such a wonderful culture in the community!” – 정인희
“My daughter did not speak a work of English, when 3 years ago we moved from Italy to live in Los Angeles. I was amazed at seeing all the progress made possible for her thanks to Word Up Kids. Your program has supported her confidence with the English language.
Writing can be fun, when you learn ways to express yourself and your feelings, and I am seeing her achieving that now in both languages, English and Italian. That makes me very happy. She always finds time to sit down and write, and she loves it! And she is only 8, what a great start!” – Paola De Faveri
“My daughter’s writing has flourished during these sessions. Once in a while a great teacher walks into your kid’s life – this is one of those times.” – Natasha Rahban
“Thank you for all of the wonderful work that you have done with my daughter. It is truly priceless.” – Angela Lee