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Looking at Writing

First Grade: Writing Sample 2

First graders write many times a day to express their ideas and interests — they are writing with a purpose, through, stories, letters, and lists. They can print clearly and leave spaces between words. Children in first grade are able to write simple but complete sentences, and they are beginning to understand when to use capital letters, commas, and periods. In their writing, you’ll see a combination of invented and correct spelling (especially words from a word wall or vocabulary list). First graders also begin to use “story language” in their own writing, for example, incorporating phrases such as “once upon a time” and “happily ever after.”

"When you catch an adjective, kill it. No I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them — then the rest will be valuable. " — Mark Twain

Context of writing

A first grade girl wrote this story. After reading William Steig's Amos and Boris, students were prompted to write a story with an unlikely friendship between two animal characters.

What is this child able to do as a writer?

  • She has generated an idea for a story — characters ('leprd selu' and 'penglen'), a setting ('the wodr'), and a probem ('sumtims leprd sele was in the wodre').
  • She includes a title that tells what the story is about and sticks to that topic.
  • She experiments with punctuation (period and exclamation point).

Move your cursor over each red bubble image marker for observations about this child’s writing.

[Click the sample to view the full size image. See transcript]

Transcript: 

Title: Penguin and the Leopard Seal

Penguin loved to go in the water he but sometimes leopard seal was in the water. Then penguin went in the water. They became friends!

What does this child need to learn next?

This student started with a problem — the penguin was afraid to go in the water with the leopard seal — but the problem does not have a very interesting solution. She writes that the penguin went into the water and they became friends. In addition, her picture does not include enough details to help the reader fill in the missing gaps. Providing this student with a story frame where she could pre-write with pictures or words may help her plan a more interesting solution to the problem.

"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser