Have you ever had a student who comes to you hating to write?
I have my suspicions on why some of our students enter our classrooms with the “writing dread” so early in their school career. I’ve sadly seen it happen. The child begins to write a sentence during their first week or two of school. A teacher immediately swoops over the child’s shoulder instructing him or her that “Your b is backwards, turn it around.” “Oops! Remember, no capital letters in the middle of a sentence. Fix that.”
What does this child now presume about writing? That it is a world filled with rules, critique, and so much erasing that the poor thing has forgotten what he was going to write in the first place.
I know many teachers will disagree with me. I’ve heard everything from “You need to break the bad habits right at the beginning.” to “You can’t start writing until they know how to write all of their letters correctly.” True? No. I’d rather take my chance by first teaching the child to LOVE writing and then instructing them on how to become better at conventions. I can promise you 99% of the time, if you get a child hooked on loving to write, they are 100% more eager and willing to learn and correct conventions than those students who see writing as a chore from the get-go. They will also internalize these conventions more because they first have a solid understanding of their purpose and goal for writing.
My kiddos have been in school for less than 4 weeks and we have already started our love of writing. This is happening not because I am standing over their shoulders with a big eraser, correcting their every writing mistake. This is happening because I am simply sharing my enthusiasm for writing stories, praising every idea the child puts down on paper, and (for now) giving them space to breathe when it comes to conventions. My purpose during these first two months of school is that they view writing as a joy and not a job. This will set them up for success for the remainder of the year when we move on to technical instruction.
I wanted to share some samples of our writing from today with you. We wrote (short) narratives today about something that has happened to us before. Keep in mind I was not concerned with capitals, periods, spelling, or even if an occasional capital letter was written in the middle of a sentence. Those things will come and my students will soon master this. I know they will because I’ve seen it, been there, and done that with my first graders. Just like Daily 5, we move slow to eventually move fast in our writing skills.
For being in school less than 4 weeks, I’m proud of how far they have come already. Many have gone from just knowing how to “fill in the blank” with a writing prompt during the first week to fully thinking up, constructing, and composing their own ideas on paper. I tried to “translate” what they had read to me by writing it correctly below their picture.” 🙂