Context of writing
Written by a third grader who is above grade level in reading. Written in a Writer’s Workshop style class where students had free choice of writing topics. This was the first page of a multi-page story. This first page took several sessions of writing to complete.
What is this child able to do as a writer?
- The student writes with a purpose — to create a humorous superhero tale.
- The story is well thought-out and stays on topic.
- He plays with language to elaborate ideas (‘Wadda ‘ya want?’).
- He uses dialogue and descriptions to give a clear sense of characters’ personalities
- He uses dialogue and quotation marks appropriately. Dialogue adds to the interest and plot of story rather than distracting from it.
- He chooses specific interesting words to enhance the story (‘and with a swish of his cape, he was off’ and ‘before he could say the first word’).
- He uses punctuation to add meaning and detail (‘?!?!?!?!; baby blue, light blue, or dar…; and Gay-ra-ld’).
What does this child need to learn next?
Make sure the student has a plan for how the story will progress and end. Many third grade stories go on forever, lose their focus and then have abrupt endings. Teach the child how to storyboard his main events BEFORE he begins writing. Storyboards can be created by folding a piece of paper into sixths or eighths and then drawing a scene in each rectangular space. This writer loves to draw so the storyboard could be a comic strip-like plan before he begins to write. Storyboards also help students who tend to start off strong but then get writer’s block and abandon their stories without finishing them. Here’s a simple storyboard template you can use.
As scenes are broken down, it may help to draw the writer’s attention to specific scenes to see how much they contribute to the overall story line. Sometimes exuberant writers begin to tell every action with lots of detail and lose sight of the overall story.
It’s clear this student enjoys writing and has a wonderful sense of humor. The author should be encouraged to continue writing, and share his work with classmates. Favorite stories could be “published” into books and added to the classroom library.