Sunday, January 5, 2014

Primary Writing with My First Graders

I am linking up tonight with Carla's Six Traits Sunday Linky at Comprehension Connection. I am one of the primary teachers who is looking for ideas. I have seen so many ideas for writing instruction over the years. Package programs, gurus the district brings in, other school models, name it and I have seen it. I seem to gather a little from each. One of my favorites has been six traits! It made the most sense to me. I love teaching writing and I love teaching reading. I love that six trait focuses on teaching students to read like writers.

The other thing that makes sense is writer's workshop. I love the model of doing a mini lesson, giving student's lots of time to write, then ending with a share time. I strongly believe we need at least 45 minutes a day devoted to this. When we don't give them ample time to write, they are unable to grow.

In moving to first grade least year, our school has started using Lucy Calkin's. I found a lot of wonderful in it, but I never became comfortable with it. The units of study didn't give students enough choice for me. I missed using literature more and teaching them the qualities of good writing. So, last year I felt my writing instruction never took off. I meandered through trying to fit in what I believed with the school expectation. This year I have tried to move back towards six traits.

Some of the issues I continue to have with writing instruction is that they actually need to be taught how to form letters. I have had to spend some time with handwriting instruction. I have the knowledge of being in the upper grades and know that I can't let that go. They grow to be writers who can't be read. So, I have to fit that in. I also feel creativity is lost in primary students letter/sound knowledge. They struggle to write great ideas if they are sounding out every other word and their energy is spent there. I do have a few writers who are beyond this, but most are not.

I know from my education that pictures and drawing are important to the developmental stages. I do begin here. I begin to teach ideas there. Encouraging details to be added to pictures. Organizing their pictures to make sense, with a beginning, middle and end.

Writing is exciting to watch grow and change. When they move from pictures to writing letters and sounds. Then eventually moving to sentences. I know I need to be patient with my first graders and where they are developmentally. I miss the creativity. I am going to use more literature as a starting point.

I know I offered little in the way of ideas here. I am really voicing where I am and curious to learn from you all. Moving down to first grade makes me reflect a lot on my writing instruction and I am excited to share my journey and learning with others.

Thanks for setting up the linky party...I hope to be a part of it each Sunday.