Scaffolding Beginning Writers
Questions You Will Get When Scaffolding Beginning Writers
How Do I Write in a Journal?
- Open to the closest empty page
- Date in the upper right-hand corner
- Picture on the bottom or top (please decide before writing)
- Your letters should fit on two lines. Lowercase letters fit below the first line.
- Leave a 1-line space between your writing
How Do I Spell???
On Day 3, our mini-lesson is all about the chorus on “I don’t know how to spell. How do you spell? What letter comes next?” Give into these demands and your writing conferences turn into a Spelling Bee instead of a conversation.
In front of the whole class I model writing a narrative by stretching out words. Then, I underline words I am unsure of. I teach my students that an underline means – “Hey Ms. W. I tried really hard to stretch out this word, but I still don’t think it’s right.” If it is a sight word, a sound is obviously missing, or a phonics pattern we’re learning, I’ll ask students about it. If not, I leave it for now. Underlining is a sanity saver!
One of the most daunting parts of writing is the forgotten word. I love when students read their writing to me, only to realize they left out the word “Phil”. From the very beginning, I teach my students to insert ‘carrots’ (this little friend added some arrow pizzaz) to indicate words need to be added. For long sentences or details that are added, I teach students to use an astrik and add it at the bottom of their paper. It keeps us from panicking and it reminds students they should be rereading their work.
How Do I Make Writing ‘Real’?
Real-world experiences matter when writing. They provide students with the confidence to write, the context for why we are writing, and a scaffold for how to start.
How Do I Use a Sentence Stem?
How Do I Assess My Writing?
With writing journals, I do struggle with a way to evaluate and encourage students to add more details. This week one of our mini-lessons was all about adding details to our illustrations and writings. I had 4 pre-written/pre-illustrated versions of the same story. Students helped me to rate the writings (1-4 stars). We talked about what questions we had as we read the stories, what was missing from the illustrations, and which story we would rather read. Then, we went back to our seats and looked at some of our old writings from the first 2 weeks of school. Additionally, We went back, adding details to our writings and our illustrations to make their 3 and 4 star works of art! It was a simple mini-lesson, that we’ll reference often. (You can snag these sentences and writing paper for here free or snag it as a part of my Beginning of the Year writing bundle here.)
How Do I Share My Writing?
In these beginning weeks of writing, I also explicitly teach my students how to share their writing and give feedback to their friends. We save the last 7-8 minutes of our writing block for sharing. This is the biggest motivator for my kids; they LOVE sharing their writing. Typically 4-5 students share each afternoon, so every child has the opportunity to share each week. This is so much easier to do once you have a positive relationship with students.
Our sharing routine looks like this –
- Encouragement/Building Community Teacher: “I choose __________.” (in a sing-song voice) Students: “Let’s go __________!” (in a sing-song voice that matches mine)
- Sharing the Work: The student puts his/her work under the document camera so it projects on the screen, and wears the microphone to share.
- Specific Feedback: Then, the friend who just read his/her work chooses 2 friends from the class to give a specific compliment (“I love how you told me ___________.” “You did a great job of _______________.” “I really liked how you _________________.”
- Class Cheer: The presenter may then choose a class cheer to receive. We use Kagan Cheers and love them. Our favorites? Trucker, roller coaster, seal of approval. 🙂
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