How can we help emerging writers?
Here is a strategy to try with writers who are yet to master retaining and forming a sentence they wish to write.
Count, Repeat, Write
- Ask the pupil to orally plan their sentence. This may need some assistance if the pupil is struggling with ideas or lacking vocabulary.
- Model saying the sentence aloud, asking the pupil to repeat the sentence after you. Repeat this step until the pupil can orally say the sentence without prompts.
- Next, orally repeat the sentence once more, this time counting each word on fingers as you say the sentence.
- In the pupil’s book, use a pencil and ruler to draw a horizontal line for each word. Space them out.
- Repeat the sentence orally, pointing to a horizontal line as you say each word.
- Ask the pupil to write each word onto the drawn lines to form their sentence.
- Either observe silently or leave the pupil to complete the sentence. Once it is written, check the sentence together, making any adjustments to omitted or misplaced words.
- Repeat for each sentence, focusing on quality not quantity and remembering that each idea may feel like Everest for the pupil.
Why is it a good strategy?
This method has worked incredibly well with emerging writers in my classes over the years (ages ranging from 6 to 11). It really slows the thinking process when forming sentences and allows for just the right amount of autonomy/support with their writing. Over time, pupils begin to develop independence in writing basic sentences.
Although spelling is very important, try to consider pupil self-esteem when checking their independent sentence. Focus on sentence formation and structure first.