Options for Writing Based On Abilities


Success comes when writing options are offered.

Success comes when writing options are offered.

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.


Young Writers: Enriching Sentences

As one mother said, “I know my son is creative, but I can’t get him to write creatively.”

What is missing? Sometimes it’s lack of confidence. Creative writing doesn’t have a step by step procedure. Often the  lack of creativity is not understanding the process of enrichment.

Creativity is the ability to let one’s imagination fly – to leap frog from one idea into the next, and then pop! with a new idea.

The following Enrichment Process for sentence writing teaches the young writer to think while they are writing.

To begin, identify short sentences that have potential: The squirrel jumped. The dog barked. A tree is green. The storm is wild. The bee buzzed. The car stopped.

On the board, write a short sentence.  Next, ask questions based on grammar. [Samples below.]  Use the child’s answers and rewrite the sentence with the new information.  Continue asking questions and rewriting the sentence until a long unique sentence is completed.

For instance: (3 words)

The frog leaped. What does the frog look like?

The small, green frog leaped. What did the frog leap over?

The small green frog leaped over an old log. How did he leap?

The small green frog leaped high into the air over an old log. Why did he do that?

The small green frog leaped high into the air over an old log when the owl swooped down. Where did this happen?

Down by the pond, the small green frog leaped high into the air over an old log when the owl swooped down. (22 words)

Of course, an astute child will notice that leaping high into the air probably meant the frog became owl’s dinner!  🙂 

If the follow-up assignment is to copy the sentence, encourage the young writers to change the ideas. Maybe their frogs will jump into the log instead of high over it!

As children become familiar with this enrichment process, take a step towards independent work. Have each child sit with a partner of the same ability level. Write a short sentence on the board. Discuss [or list] related questions, and step back! Creativity brings lots of laughter the gateway to unique ideas.

Share. Compliment. Laugh a lot.Draw pictures.

Enrichment is being learned. Creativity has taken a step forward.