If a teacher captures a student at the writing level at which he can succeed, the child gains confidence to move forward. Students who begin at the easier levels will move up as they see how other students succeed. The options listed below led to the students’ willingness to move to more independent levels of writing. As they succeed, be sure to provide time for them to share their results!
To cover the range from totally dependent to independent writers, these ideas were used.
1.Two children of the same ability work together. This works because neither child can lean or dominate the other. As the lesson on enriching writing is taught, these two students work together to develop their work. Both children are responsible for writing a final copy.
2. A child who wants/needs to copy from the board is seated where it’s easy to see. This approach shows that copying is allowed. Some children may copy everything with no rhyme or reason. They are happy just to be writing! Over time, as they hear the other children share their sentence/story assignments, they will ‘catch’ the writing process.
3. Encourage enriching the sentences. Take time during the writing time to ask if anyone has enriched one of their sentences. (See the related blog “Young Writers Enriching Sentences”.)
4. Be available to help copy ‘a sentence or two’.
5. Post the introductory sentence, and let students choose from a list of class generated sentences which ones they will copy next. This takes a lot of pressure off a budding author.
6. Spelling. As they call out a word, write it on the board. (For ideas to encourage spelling, go to the website trudicarter.com then the blog Trudi Loves Teaching, and on to the post on spelling.)
VIGNETTE. In a fifth grade class, we were learning how to give input to help others improve their writing. The students practiced giving suggestions with a piece the teacher had written. As time went on, they contributed their own writing for a class critique. One girl held back. Her success in writing was low. After watching other students have their work improved by their classmates, she reached that day when her hand waved, and she said, “I want my story on the overhead. I want to hear what I can do to make it better.” Listening to her classmates help each other and finding out how the improvement process worked, she became willing to join in.
Not only the children improve in writing over time, but you will find more ways for them to succeed.