In an earlier blog, I wrote how impressed I was with a group of 2nd graders and their ability to read a prompt. I was looking forward to returning to their classroom to view their plans and read their completed paragraphs on Dr. Seuss.
In all grade levels, we stress the need for students to both create a writing plan and then to actually use that plan. To help students understand the importance of using their plan, I tell them a story about my drive to a birthday party. First, I confess to them that I am horrible with directions. Prior to leaving for any new destination, I print out mapquest directions – both the map and the step-by-step instructions. One day I was late to a friend’s party and left my carefully thought out directions laying on the kitchen counter. They were useless to me there! Although I was late, I needed to return home, gather the directions and then drive (later than ever by now!) to the party. Writing plans are similar to driving directions. They are only helpful to us if we actually use them! Like my mapquest directions left on the counter, writing plans do no good crumpled in the back of a desk. Not only are students required to create a plan – they must also use it.
The second graders were excited to share their completed plans. They had carefully taken notes as they read the passage on Dr. Seuss, finding details for each of their big ideas! Use of a plan made the note taking simple for these young students and they were proud of their accomplishments.
It was time to take the plan to writing. A “Just Say It” topic sentence was used to begin the writing. Students easily followed their plan, writing clear big idea sentences followed by the interesting facts and details they had learned. Students made a check mark on their plan as they completed each step. By checking off each paragraph component as it was written, these second graders kept their writing organized and easy to follow! It was obvious they were confident in their writing skills.
Upon completing their paragraphs, students began to edit their written work. To help students slow down and carefully edit, we ask students to use colored pencils. These 2nd grade editors first took a green colored pencil and traced every letter which needed to be capitalized. We ask students to go over every letter which should be capitalized – whether or not they have already capitalized this letter. Punctuation is next traced with a red colored pencil. Again, all punctuation is traced in red, whether or not it is present in the original text. To complete the editing process, students circle any misspelled words in blue. To help students concentrate on each word, we have them start at the end of their writing piece and work backwards. In this way, they concentrate on each individual word.
The second graders were proud to read and share their work with others! They had read a prompt, created a plan, taken careful notes, written an organized paragraph, and edited their writing for errors! Wow – what an impressive group of second graders.