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.

Building a Foundation for Creative Writing for Young Children

For the young child, who believes in tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and invisible friends, creative writing begins not with ideas but a clear and easy writing process. A writing process easily understood and repeated over time, allows them to tell the stories hidden in their imagination.

The following process has been used in first to fourth grade classrooms.

The Writing Process.

Choose a topic ahead of time and set out picture books, science books, and story books.  Encourage the children to look at them during the week before the writing activity.

On the first day, read a variety of passages from the books that provides ideas for writing.

Next, put an open-ended question on the board related to the passages you read. If the topic is ‘spring’, and you read passages about the coming of spring, it might be asked: “What happens in nature when spring arrives?”  List their answers as short sentences. ‘Squirrels leave their winter nests.’  ‘Leaves begin to unfold.’  ‘The air gets warmer.’   ‘Ice melts.’

After several sentences are recorded, provide opportunities for successful participation.  Ask, “Who will come up and point to the word ‘squirrels’?  ‘Who will read this sentence?’ At the height of excited involvement, stop.  Compliment them. (Save those sentences!)

The next day, begin with the children rereading the sentences. Have them add words to make the sentences more interesting. (See the blog article ‘Young Writers: Enriching Sentences’.  If you have done this  activity a few times, they will enrich the sentences easily. )

Introduce and define an opening and closing sentence.  Write an example of each. Identify a title. Perhaps have them identify a couple of titles. Make sure they are super familiar with the words. Compliment them.

 

For the next two days, let them write.  If they are just beginning, take it step by step.  Let those who can, go ahead of you.

“Everyone write down an opening sentence, either mine or one that you make up.”

“Choose and write three to four sentences that tell about the opening sentence.”

“Write a closing sentence, yours or mine.”

 

When there is time, let them share one of their favorite sentences.

On the final day, (For me, this was Friday.)  offer options that allow each child to finish their work, make it better, or illustrate it.

 

1. Finish your first draft.

2. Make a final copy.

3. Draw a picture(s).

4. Share your story with someone.

3. Read more in the reference books. Tell the class new ideas you found out.

 

As this process is repeated and becomes clear to each child, it builds a solid foundation. Over time, expand and enrich it. It is not static! It grows with you and your class.

Soon you will be reading the whimsical tales found in their imagination.