I am worried about students who cannot write yet. I teach a grade 4/5 class and a few of them cannot read and write. Read to self is ok because they can read the pictures but writing is different. Do you have any suggestions for what to do with these students while everyone else is writing? They are behaviour students so if they feel frustrated then they will act up and trigger other students in the class.






I’m assuming you are talking about 4 and 5 year olds, is that right? Developmentally, many of them are probably at one of the “pre-writing” stages of drawing, labeling, etc. I think letting them draw and label as much as they can would be a way to get them going. I sometimes would limit them to drawing with pencil, though, so they don’t get caught up in coloring with crayons or markers.
I would encourage them to be responsible for talking about their drawings to you during a conference time, and helping them label or put very short sentences so they begin to develop that understanding of what writing is all about.
Here’s a link to a short article about encouraging beginning writers.

Pam Kawinsky

Nope! I’m talking about grade 4/5! I have some really low kids in my class. Two cannot read or write. This is why I ask the question because almost my whole class can read and write fine but these two will be at a loss when we do “work on writing.” I am looking for suggestions as to how to make them independent when they still cannot read and write.


Oh, so sorry I misunderstood!!
Could you try to schedule their conferring time during perhaps your first round? They obviously need your attention the most. Maybe two days a week on writing, two days on reading?
For writing, perhaps you could have an discussion about whatever you’ll be talking about, say in SS or Sci? Part of the problem is probably that they don’t know where to start. You could give them a word bank of related words that you go over together, and talk about how they might use them to write their ideas. It’s not exactly the “free choice” writing–but you can work toward that.
For reading, I’d suggest that you use a tool such as DRA or Reading A-Z assessments to find their actual reading levels if you haven’t already. Then comes the hard part–finding books at their reading level that don’t look too “young” for them. If you are interested, I’m sure lots of woks can suggest ideas for books to look at for them.
Maybe this makes more sense for your situation :). Again sorry I misunderstood your first post.

Julie Thomas

Although your children are chronologically older, they ARE in the beginning stages of writing, like younger children. I would recommend you read the book Already Ready and In Pictures and In Words. They are books written to help teachers with the beginning stages of pictures and writing with children.

Pam Kawinsky


Already Ready and In Pictures and In Words

Ok great! Thanks for those recommendations. I will check them out.

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