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First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

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Writing: In Depth

Children develop an awareness that print is meaningful and that it has many functions. Young children learn that print gives us information — such as directions or how to bake our favorite cookies. They also learn that print helps us solve problems, like the written instructions for putting together a swing-set.

With exposure to books, children learn that print has meaning to those who read it. They learn that print can entertain and amuse us. Just as children advance through stages of reading development, they also advance through stages of writing development. Through experiences with writing, children learn to distinguish between drawing and writing.

Writing development

While students are building the skills they need to advance through the stages of writing such as letter formation, spelling, and sentence creation, students also need to be taught the stages of writing development: generating and organizing ideas, initially with a group or partner; producing a rough draft; sharing ideas with others for the purpose of gaining feedback; and revising, editing, proofreading, and publishing.

It is important to note that writers move back and forth between the different processes of writing. They learn that their first attempts at writing may not be their best and need to be refined.

The writing process

  • Brainstorming: Students generate ideas for writing: gathering ideas on topic; reading literature, creating webs, and story charts.
  • Rough Draft or "Sloppy Copy": Students get their preliminary ideas on paper. They write without concern for -rules. Written work does not have to be neat.
  • Reread: Students proof their own work by re-reading their piece of writing. They read to make sure it makes sense to the reader.
  • Revise: Improve what the story says and how it says it: write additions and details. Take out unnecessary sentences. Use peer suggestions to improve.
  • Editing: Work together with peers or teacher on editing for mechanics and spelling. Make sure the work is free from errors.
  • Final Draft or "Final Copy": Students produce their final copy to discuss with the teacher and write a final draft.
  • Publishing: Students publish their written pieces: Students convert the finished product into a final format. Formats may include creating stories into books or typing them on a computer. Celebrate!

Adapted from: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

Writing Poems

In Houston, Lynn Reichle and her second-grade students go on a writing adventure called the Writersā€™ Workshop.

Writing: In Depth

Teaching Tip


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Diary of a First Year Teacher

Diary of a First Year Teacher

Join Barbara Zielinski, a first grade teacher at River Plaza Elementary School in Middletown, NJ, during her first year teaching.

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