Most people will agree that writing is meant to be heard and shared. Sharing motivates and drives my young writers to do their best. I like to have a set writing and sharing time in first grade but this year our schedule does not allow for much whole group writing instruction. I have to carve out little bits of time each day. Our sharing time is usually after or during snack. I am teaching my students what good writers do and what good listeners do. It is just as important to be a good listener as it is to be a good writer. I give my students feedback after they share a piece of writing and I model for the students how they could give their classmates feedback.
We have practiced making “I noticed statements”. A child might say, “I noticed that you used the word magenta instead of just pink.” A child might also say what they “liked” about a classmates writing. Someone might say, “I really like your drawing of the zoo and I like how you described the zebras.” But the most helpful comments that I have taught my students to make are “I wonder comments”. A student might say, “I wonder what the characters are going to do now.” Many first graders do not add details to their writing and their classmates many times will ask questions about the writing that will spark the author to add more detail. Of course, first graders don’t always use the words “I wonder” or “I notice”. They may instead say, “I have a question about your story”.
Or they might say, “I think it would be great if you told us what happened next or tell us what the character looks like.” This kind of dialogue encourages editing and revision.
As a teacher, my goal is to become skilled at guiding my students to produce quality writing while still valuing every piece a child does no matter what writing stage they might be in. This is tough because the children in my class are developing as writers at different speeds just as children are developing as a reader at different rates. I think if we are not careful we send the message to kids that their writing is not good enough or not as good as someone else. I am researching how other writing educator’s conference with children. I want to continue to give quality feedback to students and to model how they can cheer each other on to better writing.
Some of my writers are writing two or three sentences about a topic and some of my writers are writing a whole page.
If I was a super hero I would Save the World!!!
…..and some of my writers are just drawing pictures with a caption or one sentence.
I love first grade!