Wednesday, March 30, 2016

April Writing Goals

We are writing, writing, writing here in Mrs. Hoffart’s first grade.  Your first grader is becoming more independent and writing better than ever before.
         All of the first graders are now using their “Have-a-go.”  This is an organizer that enables students to try words that are unfamiliar to them then see what they really look like when I write the word correctly for them (or circle their word if it’s already correct . . . and sometimes it is!)  Not only are they feeling more confident in their writing, but they are using words that they’ve never used before.  They know they can just “have-a-go” at those tough words and use them in their writing. 
We are now busy preparing for second grade.  Here is some information that will be invaluable to you as we transition to a new grade and new skills: 

Lucy Calkins, in The Art of Teaching Writing helps us understand developing writers as they look ahead to second grade:  “In kindergarten and first grade, many children convey their meaning more easily through drawing than through print.  Drawing, therefore, can provide supportive scaffolding (support) for the writing.  Because more information is embedded in the pictures than in the print, drawing provides a horizon and leads the child deeper into the writing.  In a sense, our goal is to help children’s writing catch up to their drawings.”
          “By second grade, writing has often surpassed drawing.  Although these children may still find it easier to draw than to write, most find it easier to embed meaning into a written text than into a drawing.  When second graders draw before each new page of writing, the pictures often hold back the written text.”

         I continue to be impressed by the challenges that this class meets. We are truly A GROWING CLASS!  Thanks for your continued support.

*Credit for some content and format given to Bobbi Fisher, Thinking and Learning Together (1995)

Saturday, December 26, 2015


In our December writing meeting each year, I discuss with students the use of a new-fangled tool called, “Have-a-go.”  I NEVER tell them what it is, but give them a little hint, write it as their writing goal, and give them something to look forward to in January (I’m just sure they’re waiting with baited breath!) Now, I’m going to take a few moments to explain what Have-a-go is to you with the understanding that this is still a SECRET J so please don’t disclose this information to your first grader!
Up until this point, we have been using “inventive spelling” to sound out words that we are unsure of.  Any words that are on the Word Wall have already been introduced, studied, and are expected to be spelled correctly in their daily writing.  However, at some point, it is good for them to see the correct spelling of words they haven’t learned yet.  They are at the point in their reading that they can make connections to things they’ve previously learned and start seeing patterns in spelling of words.  In fact, it’s exciting to see!  Here’s how the Have-A-Go works:
Students are given a three-column chart to keep in a folder and bring with them to the writing table on their writing day.  When a child thinks of a word they would like to use in writing rather than sound it out on their story, they try it on their “have-a-go” two times in the first two columns.  Each time they try it, it has to look different (clue: sometimes when we change the vowel sound around, it ends up being correct!) The third column is only used if the first two attempts are incorrect and is only used by the teacher.  At that point, I writes the word correctly.  (If one of the attempts is correct, it is circled.)  This chart then becomes, in effect, a personal dictionary.  ALL the words that a student doesn’t know are now recorded on this handy-dandy chart, easily accessible to them during writing time or any other time they need to know a word.  It looks something like this:

This concept will be introduced in January and, once we’ve completed January Writing Meetings, you will (hopefully) see stories coming home with ALL words spelled correctly.  ALL of the experimenting will happen on the Have-a-go and the resulting stories will look like “clean” copies!  I can’t wait to see the results!