Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pen, paper, and a new idea

I love my teaching literacy class. Today, in small groups, we went through a stack of student writing samples. We talked about the stages represented in the writing:

pre-phonemic: strings of letters or near-letters without any attempt at word groupings

early phonemic: some matches of initial consonants with their corresponding phoneme, evidence of word groupings

phonetic: letters represent phonemes, some evidence of knowledge of sentence structure, beginning, middle, and end consonants, often readable by others without assistance from the author

transitional: a vowel in every syllable, a lot of phonemic accuracy, accurate spelling on sight words, attempts at other conventions

conventional: most conventions of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and syntax in place

But these stages are points on a continuum, of course. Thinking of a writing sample in a particular stage is only helpful if we're not too rigid about it.

There is a big emphasis in this class on teaching writing as an essential part of the literacy package--we don't teach only reading, but reading and writing together. Like cross-training for an athlete--training in one sport builds skills in the other, and vice-versa.

My happiest memories in school involved a pen, paper, and a new idea. The freedom! The possibilities!
I love those early writings so much--the intense labor. The inventiveness. The brave willingness to say, well, I don't know much about this, but I'm willing to give it a go.


  1. I felt so motivated just by this post! Following you!

  2. The risk taking involved in early writing is pretty amazing. Thanks for that reminder as I think about where we're going next in our first grade writing workshop.

  3. Thank you, Swapna, and thanks for visiting! I just visited your amazing blog--wow! Beautiful! I'll be back often!