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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

In case I forgot…

April 22, 2008

…how to make Anna's favorite lunch, she left me these directions, taped to the oven door handle. I particularly like step number 7: Serve and enjoy.

As a parent, I love finding writing samples around the house. They're everywhere! We've got notes taped to the guest room door, over the hooks for their backpacks, and on one particularly industrious Saturday morning the girls labeled the playroom bins with "Polly Pockets," "train tracks," and "other small stuff."

As a teacher, I can't help but admire the wealth of information that can be gleaned from writing samples. I mean, can we take a moment to notice all the long vowel knowledge Anna's recipe reveals? She's got several long vowel patterns reflected: boil, drain, enjoy, chees (cheese), and her effort with the word "stir" (stear)— I'm not sure what happened there, except that kids, after they learn something new about words apply it to every word they spell, so I suspect Anna is in a place where she figures that lots of words have two vowels standing next to each other. Words Their Way calls this "using but confusing," which sums it up perfectly.

If we had more writing samples, we could determine just what phonics skills Anna is ready to tackle. This one suggests she's somewhere in the "within word" stage of development. Her errors (nootles/noodles, sevin/seven, minites/minutes, chees/cheese) provide guidance about the skills she's working on. A spelling inventory captures similar information by using carefully constructed lists of words that contain specific phonics features.

If you have a minute today, take a look at some kid writing. Admire it! What types of information can you gather from it? I think I could do that all day long.

macaroni

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