One of my favorite things to do is to read what my students wrote during Work on Writing. It’s a great way to get to know each child. This free-choice writing time encourages creativity, allows for imaginations to engage in storytelling, and gives students time to put their current thoughts and recent events on paper. Of course, much of what they write would need more context if it were to be taken to final copy, but what is there provides a great starting point to further develop chosen concepts.
A prime example of this is a piece of writing my son gave me for Valentine’s Day when he was in first grade.
The original copy read as follows:
Mom loves me. She cooks. She helps me. She tells me what to do. She drives me. My clothes don’t stink.
It was when they were creating Valentine cards that his teacher suggested he take this piece to final copy. She asked probing questions that encouraged him to provide deeper explanations and revise it into a short essay titled “How to Be My Mom.” This treasured gift still hangs in my office six years later.
The Daily 5 task of Work on Writing gives students time to write creatively so they can delve into vocabulary, self-chosen topics, and different writing styles they are interested in and may not otherwise have a chance to explore. Not everything written during Work on Writing goes to final copy, but when it does, the result is a piece that is true to the writer and one they are proud to call their own.
This week when reading what your students write during Work on Writing, pay special attention to what you can learn about them. There may be a piece they wish to expand on, take to final copy, and bestow on a real audience who will appreciate it for years to come.
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