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Where are they in writing?


New Member
I was wondering if some of you wouldn't mind letting me know where your students are in writing. It seems that first graders in my area are all across the board as far as district's expectations. Are they writing paragraphs yet? Do they know how to properly use capital letters and periods? Are they elaborating on their details yet? I appreciate any help offered!



I model with my own writing most days, and we've grown from one, to two, to 4 or more sentences on the same subject but I have not exposed my first graders to the word "paragraph". Writing works best when its something they are enthused about, so I don't use sentence starters, never have, but we often have a theme; "Bugs", "Pets" etc. They also do very well writing sometimes about a picture from a magazine or calendar. A photo, especially of themselves, works well. We also often write about their art, or a project they created, like their leprechaun trap. I always ask them what they'll be writing about before I had them their journal, just to start their planning process.

Capitals and punctuation are an expectation, but several children need a reminder to check for those conventions before handing it in. I've modelled the question mark, exclamation mark, and quotation marks, but only the top group of writers regularly use these. We've done a lot of lessons on adding descriptive details to their sentences, and they're getting better. We have also practiced writing step by step instructions, reports (following research), letters, and free verse poetry. They often read their writing, at least to a partner, often as possible to the whole class. Sometimes I type their work on computer and display it.


More questions on the topic

Ok. So...do you give them a prompt everyday (picture, theme idea, etc)? And you said they turn it in...everyday? when they are done with a piece? What about planning...how do you go about that.

Jeanne b

Full Member
teaching writing

I use writing folders to keep their writing in. It's the two pocket type--on one pocket is a green dot and a red dot is on the other. When the student is "finished" with a writing it goes in the red dot side. When time is up for writer's workshop and the student isn't finished it goes on the green side "GOing to work on it next time". This helps with those that seem to finish quickly and also for those who like to spend more time on a writing project. Those students that finish quickly can start a new piece. Every six weeks or so, we empty the folders and put the samples in their portfolios. I have a cart with 20 drawers and each student has a numbered drawer to keep the folders in. What is good about the drawer is we can slide something in it if we all are going to come back to it at a later time. Also, samples can be pulled out for editing, adding more details, checking for mini-lesson topics, etc.


Full Member

I use the 4 Square writing plan. I went to a workshop this year and it has really helped me with getting my kids writing. The 4 Square is a planning page for their story. Most of my kids can now write a story with a solid beginning, middle and end. We still have to review capitals, periods etc. But for the most part I am very happy with the writing my students are doing. My students have to have 3 stories in their writing folder before they can publish one on "pretty paper". So they are in constant writing mode. As soon as they publish one they start another....but they always have to have 3 unpublished stories in their folder in order to come to me to edit and publish. I have some that have published 3 books since January. I do a mini lesson before each writing period on grammer types of writing etc.


We do the Lucy Calkins writers workshop format at my school. The kids right now are for the most part writing a piece that is about 6-8 sentences long. Some longer, some shorter. Every day we do a mini-lesson. Right now the kids are writing interesting, sequenced stories on one topic with lots of details. They are sounding out most words and using the word wall for high frequency spelling words. We have not yet done mini-lessons on punctuation, as our district doesn't grade it until 3rd quarter, so we are beginning that soon. We do go over that in morning message though so some kids are already doing it. My lower kids are still just working on getting out a coherent sentence and sounding out words, while the higher kids are writing several page long stories.


First Grade Teacher

I recently attended aworkshop with the same question. I was told that students, by the end of 1st grade should be writing about a page on a single subject, with details. I have also been told that it is better to have a short thoughtful and clear paper than a long thoughtless one.