One thing that often frustrates me is when I see writing time turned into handwriting practice or, even worse, writing that is overshadowed by the grammar/punctuation/spelling police. All of those things are definitely important, and they have their time and place in my classroom. That time is usually not during our writing time though! Does that seem odd to you? To me it doesn't. I believe that writing must begin as a free-flow of thoughts and ideas and that it can get bogged down in all of the rules. That's not to say that we don't occasionally use the editing process to perfect our pieces, but I hate to see the spark of creativity and excitement in a child dimmed by laborious rewrites.
I love invented spelling - it gives me an insight into the student's phonological awareness - can they "hear" blends yet? Do they differentiate between long and short vowel sounds? How do they deal with r-controlled vowels? All of their "mistakes" are great information for me to use to plan my lessons! Thus, most of my students' "finished" pieces often have errors. Depending on the student I might have them go back and fix capitalization or punctuation errors. I sometimes even point out a spelling mistake if it's pertinent to words we've already studied or a phonics rule, but generally, if they have complete sentences that make sense, I'll praise their effort, make a metal note of what we need to work on, and address it in a later lesson. In this way I've seen enormous progress in my students' ability to write and their enjoyment of writing is unhindered!
Anyways, every Wednesday I'll be featuring some of my ideas for writing. I hope you'll join in and share your ideas as well! To kick things off I have to showcase some writing that blew me away this week. In order to keep this real, I am not going to only show you the pieces written by my most brilliant student (although I will occasionally throw those in because it's hilarious when he writes about "the Tree of Wisdom" and other awesome ideas I can't believe come from a 7 year old!) but I will share the work of my "average" students.
When our chicks hatched this week, we were so excited that it translated into almost effortless writing. Gotta love when their enthusiasm for a subject blinds students to the fact that they are "doing work"! Here are some pieces that made me proud:
This is one of my favorites because you can truly hear her voice in her writing! I also love that this darling turned her paper over to finish her sentence! A lot of my kiddos start out asking "How many sentences do I need to write?" which is an indication that writing has been a chore for them in the past. My response is "As many as it takes to get your point across!" As you can see, she had some trouble with run on sentences. She's still using "and" to connect thoughts so I pointed that out and she attempted to correct it. But, she used quotation marks which is wonderful!
This little guy had a great time writing his chicken facts. He loves writing, but generally dislikes prompts, so this was a fabulous effort from him! As you can see, he's not really sure of apostrophes and he's missing some subject/verb agreement, so we'll go over those again in a small group with some others who are also having trouble with them.
I'll also try to share a writing related freebie each week. Here's a simple story element brainstorming sheet. We use these to plan out possible stories. It helps my kiddos remember the basic story elements such as setting and conflict, while providing them with a "map" of their story in case they can't finish it in one setting. There's nothing worse than having a great idea and forgetting it before you can write it down! I have also included the writing sheets we sometimes use. My kiddos love being able to illustrate their story and I love being able to see if their story matches their illustration - it gives me an idea of whether they had a clear vision for their story and whether they are able to sustain their focus as they write or whether they go off on random tangents. I hope it's useful in your classroom as well! Please Rustle Up a Response below and let me in on a writing idea from your classroom!
Story Elements Brainstorming Sheet