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    By Lori

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    I have experienced great success with first graders as writers. First, immerse them in writing. We write every day in journals for 20-25 minutes. At first, they may write for a minute or two and say they are done, but I tell them (in a cheery voice), that, no, they are not done until the time is up. We also write daily as a whole group activitiy during calendar. In addition, we have a word wall in the room where we post difficult, but often used words. Second, I give the children lots of feedback. The feedback comes in a variety of forms based on the children's needs. If they are working on beginning sounds, than that might be all I expect of them. If they can write beginning, middle and ending sounds, than we might work on sentence structure. If it is an advanced student we work on story structure. If they need periods, help them with periods. Whatever! The point is, give each student the feedback he or she needs to move on. Also, I do not give them topics. Children are very egocentric. The most interesting thing to them is themselves. In first grade, we are not looking for Hemingway, we are looking for writing. It is much more meaningful to them to write about themselves, and they have lots to say. The third component of my writing program is sharing. At the end of journal time, they are instructed to share their stories at their table. Give them a minute or two. Then have 2 or 3 share for the whole class. This is very powerful. Most important, if you want good writers, you have to give them time to write. It's a choice you have to make. Finally, we also have other writing experiences in our classroom as necessetated by instruction.

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