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Looking at Writing

Second Grade: Writing Sample 1

Second graders are polishing a wide range of basic writing skills, including writing legibly, using capitalization and punctuation correctly (most of the time!), and moving from invented spelling to more accurate spelling. For most, handwriting becomes automatic, so they can concentrate more on the content of their writing rather than on the mechanics. Second graders can organize their writing to include a beginning, middle, and end. They can write a simple essay with a title and introductory sentence, provide examples and details that support their main concept, and write a concluding sentence.

"Read, because that's the way you learn how the language works. That's the way you learn about emotion, on paper. That's how you find out how stories are fastened, by reading and reading and reading. " — Katherine Paterson

Context of writing

A second grade girl wrote this story in response to a prompt to write about her winter vacation.

What is this child able to do as a writer?

  • She has learned the mechanics of grouping sentences into a paragraph. This student indents her paragraph with a symbol her teacher has taught her to use.
  • She experiments with using dialogue in her story ('I'am a hopp you ok she said to me').
  • She uses periods at the ends of some of her sentences and experiments with using a contraction with an apostrophe ('I'am').

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: 

I was with my sister and her friend Molly. Also my mom too. But it was a great time to be a great family at home. I want to be a friend with Molly. But I am afraid that she will say no. I want that to happen. They're in the house though. I'm happy. "You OK?" she said to me. I'm a friend to her. It is a happening to her.

What does this child need to learn next?

This writer is unable to organize her thoughts and stick to one topic to write about. She begins talking about her family but then changes the subject to talking about wanting to be friends with Molly. She could benefit from a graphic organizer that helps her brainstorm all her ideas on one topic and sequence her ideas before she begins. Since this is a personal narrative and not a story with a problem and setting, a graphic organizer that lists events would be most appropriate. Here are several graphic organizers can that be used for chains of events.

A personal narrative graphic organizer (122K PDF) can be used with students to support their writing about one specific event.

"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase