There is a wide range of ability encountered when it comes to Level 1 writers as this post will demonstrate. Students entering the third grade who have been using our curriculum, have been introduced to the whole of phonics (for reading and writing), have acquired a large sight vocabulary (for reading and writing), and have been introduced to all four types of sentences—statement, question, command, exclamation. By the end of the second grade these students are confidently writing journals and simple stories. These students have been introduced to constructing the “Hook” in Storymaker, and understand it is the first sentence that gets any story started! These students are ready to embark on CORE Level 1.
But what happens when students jump into the program at CORE Level 1 who have not been using our curriculum?
When students encounter the weekly writing element in each section, they will be supported with a gentle scaffolding on the page to remind them that a paragraph has an introductory “topic” sentence (the HOOK), 3 supporting sentences, and a conclusion (the TWIST at the end).
This student, who jumped into CORE Level 1 from another program straight out of 2nd grade, is a dyslexic child who was simultaneously remediating phonics. It was important to encourage him to write his ideas even though his skills were limited.. This process would only solidify burgeoning skills. Because he was eager and imaginative, this student had no problem using the phonics he had mastered to communicate a darling idea inspired by My Father’s Dragon!
Here’s what we see:
- Able to copy the word island from the prompt
- Able to encode consonant and short vowel sounds
- Able to encode a few sight words: was, and, made, to
Most important is the fact that, despite being on tippy toes with skills, this student tenaciously pressed into composing a really outstanding idea!
How we approach the edit at this level:
With a young writer, it is best to write suggestions (which takes no longer than 5 minutes!) before sitting side-by-side with the student. Then we talk about what we just read. FOUR positives were offered in this case: 1) Terrific HOOK! and 2) Splendid idea! and 3) Terrific descriptors! and 4) Terrific Twist! Then and only then, after offering genuine positives (always possible to find), do I offer constructive edit suggestions. The most significant edit offered was to correct the spelling. In the last body sentence, I asked the child to tell me more about what the mountains and volcanoes were made of and simply wrote what was spoken. Next, I asked the student to copy the paragraph with edits. This copy work exercise, because it is tied to an authentic idea, tends to improve the application of phonics skills not yet mastered, more than memorizing rules. This student, by the end of 3rd grade, was moving toward using conventional spelling more often than not.