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.