The Writing Process
In Writer's Workshop, we teach first graders to go through the Writing Process. Our steps are:
1. - Think of an idea. For a small moment, this could be something you do (like riding my scooter or going to gymnastics), or something that has happened to you (like getting caught in a rain storm or making cookies with Dad.)
2. - Plan I tell them this is the most important! We will learn various ways to plan our story. Right now we are thinking about what happened first, then next, then after that and are "touching and telling" (touch each page as you tell the story out loud and think about what would go on each page), then sketch (draw a quick sketch on each page to help you remember your plan)
3. - Write! As you can see, we don't begin with writing our story!
4. - Revise I tell them, "When your done you've just begun!" We add detail to our story using "spider legs" and think how can I make my story better?
5. - Edit We check spelling and punctuation. We are talking about leaving spaces between our words, writing with lower-case letters, learning strategies for spelling words we don't know, and using punctuation. Of course not all of our spelling is expected to be correct! We focus on the patterns we are learning in our Words Their Way sort, and we use our Word Wall to help us spell. First graders spell phonetically and that is what we want them to do for most words right now.
In addition to Writer's Workshop, we have "Word Study" everyday. This is a time to focus on phonics and patterns we see in words. This year we are using a program called Words Their Way. The work we do during our Word Study will support students as readers and as writers. I've given the class a spelling test to see what they know about letters, letter combinations, and the sounds they make. This helped me start them at the appropriate Words Their Way level and differentiate for each child. Each week your child is given a "Word Sort." It has words that focus on a particular pattern, such as short vowels, blends (two letters whose sounds, when put together, blend closely - such as bl, st, dr, cr....), digraphs (two letters that, when put together, make a new sound - such as ch, sh, ph, th..), and long vowel patterns (two vowels that make one long vowel sound ("magic e"or "silent e" as in cake, and other combinations like oa, ai, ea...). We will retest students in December and adjust groups as needed to ensure that students are working on the patterns that will best support their reading and writing growth.