Writing is one of my favorite things to teach in first grade. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the subjects I feel I have the least amount of time to teach. Perhaps it is because in first grade there is so much about writing we need to get through in a matter of a year.
Many Most of my first graders come to me not knowing how to write a complete sentence on their own (I’m talking, without giving them a prompt with a blank such as “I like ___________.” Sorry – that doesn’t cut it anymore.). Therefore, we not only teach how to write a complete sentence, we teach how to put spaces between our words, how to write in all lowercase letters (and how to capitalize a sentence), how to tap out unknown words, and how to write from left to right.
I haven’t even touched content yet. Opinion pieces, narratives, explanatory, and shared research pieces are all part of the Common Core expectations. First grade writing is….busy.
That is also why first grade is so special! We move our students from a mess of jumbled words to a finished piece of text that they are the authors of.
How do we get there? How do we move our kids from “writing time” to “I’m writing because I’m an author.” These are my own “I will” statements as a teacher that I have based my writing beliefs off of.
I will tell them they are authors – every day.
I will provide time for them to write.
I will give them choices about what they want to write.
I will model, model, model.
I will guide them through the writing process – not just one or two times – every time.
I will make writing a fun “may do” activity when they finish something early.
(I put on my “actress hat” and show them that this is THE coolest thing to do when I have
even a few spare minutes. And they buy it – because they’re six and six year olds know
that if you say it is cool – it totally is.)
I will show off their writing so they can visually see that what they did is important.
Every year, I put some of the books my kids write in a pocket bookshelf and ask the
librarian to display it in our school library. When my kids see their books in a real library,
it validates the importance of their writing and lets them know they really are authors.
I will make them write about what we read, and read about what we write.
Tonight, I want to share with you some of the writing projects we have going on in my room. As many of you know, we’ve been reading gingerbread books this month! We wrote “how-to” stories titled How To Make Sure The Gingerbread Man Does NOT Get Eaten! They were so into their books and they had so much fun “eating” each step! I provided them with blank books and eight gingerbread men that they had to cut out. After discussing and listing transition words and other key words they would need in the book, they were able to write each page of their how-to book in a very hands-on manner.