Last week, while MeiLi was writing out her observations for a science lab we were doing, I noticed that her spelling was terrible. We’ve never spent any time learning how to spell words .. I have mixed feelings about the benefits of spelling tests .. and feel that one learns how to spell a word truly only when you begin to use the word. As I looked upon her work, it struck me that she always asks me how to spell words she doesn’t know. In the past, when I have tried to get her to write a sloppy copy … to guess at the spelling … it is a struggle. She is a perfectionist and doesn’t want to write it down incorrectly. This is also starting to become an issue in math … but I digress; this post focuses upon writing.
I realized then that I have been dropping the ball on this one. Her limitations in spelling are primarily due to my own lack of follow-through and planning. I don’t require her (or her brother, for that matter) to do near as much writing as she should. I need to make a more conscious effort to incorporate more opportunities. We’ve thereby begun to implement a number of changes to our Language Arts curricula.
Recently, I was reorganizing … putting away … cleaning the piles of school stuff that have piled up in our office/school when I stumbled upon this folder of writing prompts I put together when I was in the classroom. Within the file folder are four pockets .. one for each of the four major styles of writing: Narrative, Expository, Imaginative and Persuasive. Within each pocket are color-coded cards with writing prompts to help students begin to write.
It is a simple and inexpensive system to put into place. Prompts can be gathered from a variety of places including Mailbox magazine and online. Examples of each writing style are shown above.
My vision .. as we proceed .. is to assure that I integrate a writing activity into our daily lessons. Sometimes this will be easy .. written narrations [in response to Story of the World or other non-fiction story I read aloud or videos we watch together] and thank you letters. Other times, I may struggle to come up with an engaging writing activity. That is where the file folder comes in … I can allow them to choose a style (color) and prompt card of their own … or I can assign a specific style (color) and allow them to choose only the prompt.