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Looking at Writing

Second Grade: Writing Sample 4

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.

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. " — Mark Twain

Context of writing

A second grade girl wrote this story in a writing workshop where she was given free choice of topics.

What is this child able to do as a writer?

  • She has generated an idea to write about that she feels strongly about.
  • She sticks to the topic.
  • She shows an awareness of an audience by asking a question to her reader ('Have you ever heard of a dog ers?').
  • She uses conventions such as capital letters and ending punctuation for most sentences.

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: 

My dog Wendy is up to my knees. I teach her how to jump through a hulahoop. I can also hide somewhere in my house and say OK. Wendy is 8 years old. She likes to go on walks. And when we go to my sister's track or cross country parties she likes to come. She is a cocker spaniel with big floppy ears. Wendy has a friend named Bear too. Have you ever heard of dog years? Well, in dog years my dog is about 60 years old.

What does this child need to learn next?

This child has a lot to say about her topic, but she is having difficulty organizing her ideas. She jumps around between describing her dog and telling about fun things she likes to do with her dog. She could benefit from learning how to group similar sentences into paragraphs and learning how to sequence important story events.

She may want to reread her piece and sort her sentences into those that describe her dog and those that tell what she likes to do with her dog. She could use one highlighter color for one topic and another highlighter color for the other topic. Then, she could rewrite her piece with all of one topic in one paragraph and the other topic in a second paragraph. The teacher could show her, and the rest of the class, how to write a topic sentence for each paragraph. The teacher could use her sentences as the mentor text and the class could generate several topic sentences for her to choose from.

The paragraph hamburger strategy could help her organize her ideas around a topic sentence and supporting details.

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