I have been thinking a lot about looking back in order to see where you are. Meaning… sometimes you don’t realize the leaps and bounds a student makes until you glance back.
I have heard it said [not sure who] that looking at writing progression is sort of like watching a tree grow. Every day you look and it appears that your tree is not growing. However, looking back to photos from 3 years ago…WOW! Look how big that tree has gotten. So I gather my “tree” samples on or about the first day of school.
I know I have posted samples of my students’ writing and I hear, “My kids are just so low. I don’t think they can do writer’s workshop.” Let me introduce you to the sweetest little sapling in my class. This sweet thing came in with little literacy skills. Holding a pencil was foreign to her. She did not know any of her colors. She would often ask, “Is this red?” She did not know any letters, sounds, or what her name looked like.
She really started out without thinking her writing could carry any meaning. However, when I look at the green squiggle lines, it would tell me that she knew something should go there. I am not certain, but it also looks like a period at the end… interesting.
Today, I sat down to conference with this sweetie. I started her conference as I do others, “Can you tell me what you are working on?” She was working on the final page and was not sure what else she would add to the page. I suggested she read her book to me from the beginning.
Here is what I got.
Can you see that she was not happy about the storm? She even appears to be looking up at the cloud. I love how she made the sky dark.
Now the sky is really dark. Love! It!
When she came to this next page, she had the illustration but there were not any words. So I reminded her that my goal for her was to have her start adding words to her writing. [She currently knows about half of her letters and a handful of sounds.] I asked her, “What do you think you might say about this page?” She sat for a moment and said, “I like wind.” I commented, “Wow! You did a wonderful job of showing this with your picture. I can tell it is windy because your hair is blowing. I can also tell that you like it because, look at the huge smile.” She was BEAMING!
Now it was time for the nudge.
“Remember we talked about writing words? What words do you think you could add here?”
A moments pause… then, “I like wind!”
I said, “Great, let’s write it.”
She looked at me for a minute and said, “I know how to write ‘I’.” She confidently wrote that down. Then she said, “‘like’ is on our word wall.” She looked up to our word wall, found it and wrote it down. She then said, “I don’t know how to spell ‘wind’.”
Hmm… not wanting to be the walking dictionary, I encouraged her to put the sounds she heard. She said, “Wind starts with ‘w’.” Disclaimer: Wind is our phonics key word for Ww. She wrote it down, but put a “m” instead. Then she erased it and rewrote her “w” correctly.
I asked her if she heard any other sounds. She said, “yes” but did not know what they were. I was not about to /i/i/i/i/, /n/n/n/n/, d/d/d/d/ her into the ground because that would have been a shove, not a nudge. I just praised her for her great work… then, bless her heart, she added the “eerrrt” AKA: the period. I reminded her that every time she writes, she could add words to her writing to make the meaning more clear. She was all grins!
If I had waited until this sweetie knew all of her sounds, I would have lost the growth she has made to compose. In the past 57 days, she has learned that her writing has meaning AND she can express her meaning with pictures and with words. She can write a story and sustain meaning across pages. This book took her a few days to write, so she returned to her work in the process.
Suffice to say, I am thrilled with her growth.
WANTING MORE ON WRITING?
Since I LOVE talking about writing, I have a few (dozen) blog posts about writing.
- Writing Folder Organization FREE file!
- 5 Things You Need to Know About Writing
- Writers Workshop: Second Week of Kindergarten
- Or HERE to read them all
LOOKING FOR PRINT AND TEACH WRITING LESSONS?
Deanna Jump and I have created simple, yet powerful daily lesson plans to teach writers workshop. We have taken the guesswork out of your instruction.
Each unit is carefully planned out.
And it walks you through each day’s lesson.
You can shop our writing curriculum below:
- Writing Writers Workshop: Writing Through the Year K-1 Bundle
- Writing Writers Workshop: Writing Through the Year 2nd Grade Units