Looking at Writing

Second Grade: Writing Sample 2

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.

"This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again. " — Oscar Wilde

Context of writing

A second grade girl wrote this story in response to a teacher asking them to write about an animal that lives in one of the habitats they were studying during science.

What is this child able to do as a writer?

  • She has generated an idea to write about — an animal she feels strongly about ('they are so cool').
  • She sticks to the topic.
  • Shows a beginning sense of sequencing in her text. She starts with 'I like white sharks' and then adds a few details about sharks and ends with 'they are so cool.'
  • She uses capital letters for the word 'I'.

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]


Title: White Shark

I like white sharks because I like how they swim and I like how they are in the water and I like when they are so cool. The end.

What does this child need to learn next?

She may benefit from seeing different ways to organize factual information. The teacher may use a mini-lesson to show different examples of nonfiction animal books. This student, and the rest of her classmates, could look at nonfiction text features and try to use them in their own writing (table of contents, captions with pictures, bold words, close-ups, diagrams with labels, an index). This may motivate her to find more information about white sharks and think about how to organize it in a multi-page format. This would be an effective tie to a nonfiction reading unit.

This student is not using any punctuation in her writing. She may be so excited to get all of her information on the page when she writes that she can't think about using mechanics at the same time. She should be encouraged to re-read her writing aloud to herself or someone else. She could be taught to listen for natural pauses in her words which would signal the ends of sentences.

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables