It is important to be able to find the value in the first steps of the writing process as they begin to happen in the classroom. As seen on page 309 the student is to show style, voice, detail, and ideas. Progressions from drawing to writing need to be fluid and in a natural way.Once students are more confident with writing skills their voice and style will be present in their first pieces of writing. It is hard to imagine how you learned to write when you were in elementary school. Everything you know about writing was taught to you, even the most basic conventions. Convention vocabulary should be introduced in the elementary classroom in the primary years in order for students to be come both familiar with the terms as well as begin to work on the strengths they have.
Things to Look For in Primary Writing
Notice the details that are added in both writing and any photos drawn.
The ability to convey a personal story or retell someone else’s story.
A clear intent either to entertain, express ideas, persuade or teach.
Use of the page regarding word placement or use of a title.
Ability to coordinate drawings and writing within the same piece. Details in writing should be reflective of the drawn photo.
Ability to use a closing sentence to end a story or piece of writing.
Use of originality and expression to convey a story and interest the readers.
Use of emotion both in photos and writing.
Emotions present in writing including, passion, playfulness, enthusiasm, humor and excitement.
Choice and use of words, in the beginning words will start as single letters or shapes before developing into full words.
Use of different kinds of words including descriptive words, feelings, action words, and movement words.
Progression from shapes to letters to words to the first sentences.
Use of multiple sentences that relate to the same topic.
Sentence variety- moving past subject verb sentences.
Conventions and Presentation:
Writing is presented from left to right and top to bottom on the page.
Words are spaced out appropriately.
Punctuation is present in writing to separate sentences.
Use of I is always capitalized when used.
Ability to their own name and use it to label pieces of writing.
Using the 6 Traits to Teach Primary Writing
1. Create an Environment in Which Writing Thrives
Students need to feel safe and encouraged in their writing environment in order to prosper. There is value in encouraging student s to share ideas of writing topics in order to further develop their ideas. It is also helpful to practice writing at the same time very day. Student are then able to be think about their writing and pre-plan. The classroom should also filled with writing inspiration. Word walls to increase word choice, books displayed to inspire creativity.
2. Be a Writer Yourself
It is important to practice writing in order to remember what it is like to be searching for ideas or struggle with spelling. This will also help create new ideas on how to teach conventions.
3. Model Model Model
Modelling for students allows them to visually see how someone we writes. It also helps students to have a starting point for their writing. Which we know is usually the hardest part of writing. Every convention has the opportunity for a teacher model first including: choosing a topic, researching a topic, writing the first sentence, choosing better word choice, choosing a title.
4. Talk Traits- in Primary Language
Creating easy step by step guides are essential to the elementary classroom so students have the option to check the posters to guide their writing process. As the year progresses and students bring up their writing questions, address one question at a time. Create step by step processes for writing to assist students with the writing terms thrown at them. Slowly integrate the trait names in the classroom vocabulary slowly ensuring that the students understand the different terms.
5. Encourage writers to Choose Their Own Topics
Everyone writes better when they discuss a topic that they are passionate about and know a lot of information about. Encourage students to chose a topic that they want to write about, the product will be much better than a topic chosen for them. Have students make a list of topic that they either enjoy or know a lot of information about in a journal, when unsure of a topic they can flip to the list and chose a topic from their. Share ideas of how to think of topics. Search through photo albums to remind yourself of memories that could spark a story for example.
6. Create Experiences to Write About
If students are stretching for ideas and can not create a list of topics they can write about, create experiences together that everyone could write about. As a class do various activities in which students will have information to write about. Following are some ideas to take students to do to inspire writing in the classroom: having a class pet, going for a nature walk, listening to music, animal watching, going to the beach, going on a field trip, ant watching or show and tell.
7. Spend Time Talking- and Drawing
Drawing a picture is great inspiration for a piece of writing. Have student draw a photo, then have that the subject of the writing they will do. Ensure the students use the details in their drawing to aid the writing process. Each part of their pictures can add a sentence to their story, they could take up a paragraph just describing a character they drew then moving to the details of the storyline or any plot they created.
8. Be Flexible About Format
If students are not ready to fully express their ideas through text, allow students the opportunity to express their ideas through pictures. A picture can display voice, organization, emotion, humour, and details. Allow students time to fully expand their ideas in their drawing before encouraging students to write one sentence describing their picture. Then encourage students to write two sentences, then three and so on.
9. Share Writer’s Secrets
When a student is ready to move on to a new step of the writing process let them in on a writers secret. Invite students to try new tactics to improve their writing. Give students pieces of writing that shows the proper use of a convention to inspire them to use it. It will also show them how to use that convention in their own writing.
10. Teach Primary Writers to Think Like Editors
Hook students on using many conventions in their writing by getting them excited about conventions. Use several book examples to show conventions used properly in writing to inspire students to try and use them like an author would. From the textbook I really like the example of doing a treasure hunt. Create a list of conventions that you want the students to be looking for, then give students a piece of interesting text in which they can highlight or circle the listed items. This is a good starting point for using conventions in writing because it allows students to visually see the conventions used, and how often an author uses them.
11. Read and Celebrate Literature
It is easy to learn from books, read out loud in the classroom the following books while teaching the following conventions.
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (Adding detail from a picture)
Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard (How to expand on a central idea)
Amos and Boris by William Steig (displays word choice and a good example of a conclusion)
Press Here by Herve Tullet (page by page direction book)
I’m gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis (Example of persuasive writing)
I’m Not by Pam Smallcomb (hilarious illustrations)
Fables by Arnold Lobel ( how to use pictures to reinforce ideas)
Fredrick by Leo Leonni (word collections)
Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies (easy to read)
Insectopedia by Douglas Florian (masterful work of word choices)
Conventions and Presentation:
Chester by Melanie watt
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems