As a special education teacher, I work with students for a handful of different things. Some of my groups focus on reading, one focusses on math skills, and a few others focus on writing - including spelling. The past few days I have been drowning my students (that I see for writing instruction) in writing prompts. Well, not drowning, but it just feels that way to me as it has turned out to be more time consuming than I thought!
My goal this week was to give each of my students three writing prompts. I am in the process of getting a baseline as to how well my students can write when given a writing prompt and 3 minutes to write. I am looking for correct word sequences; making sure each sentence is complete with a capital letter at the beginning, ending punctuation and correct spelling. Once I have my baseline, I can figure out what kind of progress they should be making over a 9 week period. And I will continue to give them these writing prompts, 1 a week to measure progress.
With the first writing group I had yesterday, I gave them their writing prompt with 1 minute to think about what they were going to write, and then away they went for three minutes. Two of my students were writing like crazy and I didn't have the heart to stop them after three minutes. Once there three minutes were up, I marked where they were, and then gave them more time to write. Who knew they would continue to write for 20 more minutes. They were asking for more paper, making comments of enthusiasm saying, "Oh! I know what else to write" .... "I love doing this!" .... "Do we get to do this again tomorrow, Ms. S?"
A great feeling came across me as I sat on the otherside of that table. I was speechless. I just let them write. A similar episode happened again today. As I look over a dozen stories tonight, I am not too bothered by their lack of skills with their writing; run-on sentences, uncomplete sentences, missing words, simple spelling errors, ten words piled together, awful penmanship, etc. These are are things I know now that we need to work on in the future. I am so excited over their excitement and joy in their writing. And their unbelievable imagination. Kids are full of surprises and always seem to amaze me, some way ... some how. Just another reason why I love what I do.