March is for daily slicing, and all are welcome! Join us at Two Writing Teachers!
Pulling out her phone, the parent shared pictures she had taken of first-grade writing in her own school.
"I look at this, and then I look at my son's writing, and I have a lot of concerns," she said.
I could see what she meant. The writing she shared looked good. The print was neat, the letters were well-formed, the writing stayed on the lines. Even the spelling was mostly conventional. Her child's writing was a combination of large and small letters. I'm pretty good at understanding young writers' meaning, but I had to pause to figure out the facts he was teaching about bearded dragons. Not too many first-graders write about endangerment and habitats.
I looked at the pictures of writing again and realized it was a repetitive piece. Every sentence started with the same phrase, and although I can't be sure, my money's on it was copied from a chart or a board. Copying makes for good spelling, but not too much originality.
We talked about the balance between voice and courage and neatness and conventions. I never tell parents the latter two don't matter, but I always emphasize the importance of bravery when it comes to writing and the risk of shutting down writers if we over-expect and over-correct spelling and punctuation.
As we head into unchartered educational territory, I am hoping these parents consider this balance. I'm sure they will be studying their child's writing process along with millions of other parents across the country. What should they know? What should they say, support, and teach? How can I help some of the efforts? I'm thinking!