Student Writing Reflection
Young learners are fascinating. One minute they’re focused and willing workers, seconds later they’re playful and silly, but watch them with their parents and they become entirely different little people, and I am reminded of how young they are. It’s for this exact reason I love working with our youngest learners. Their playful, innocent nature alongside the desire to be a “big kid” suits our job perfectly.
Capturing snapshots of our learning helps parents, student and myself to understand the learning and our next steps. So on the first day of school, I hand each student a green sheet of paper (green helps me remember this is our first piece of writing). I ask the students to write a story. Some ask for ideas, others get right to work composing. This early snapshot often reflects random letters, a few words, and simple line illustrations. This piece of writing becomes our starting point. It sets the tone and expectations of further writing.
As a class of writers, we learn about story, authors, and writing. Comparing the work we are doing to our first piece as we go, striving to grow as writers. After 6-9 weeks we pause to reflect on the work we have done. We discuss our writing, authors who have become our mentors, favorite books, and pieces of writing. As we browse our writing, we choose a piece that shows all we know about being a writer and compare it to our first writing. The young authors chuckle as they look back to their first piece, noticing how little writing there actually is, the illustrations lacking shape and words spelled so creatively they can’t read them. Already, the growth of these young writers is encouraging.
I love listening to students talk about their work and the process behind the work. Listening to these conversations drives instruction and validates the writers for the growth they’re making.
As we stopped to reflect for the third time this year, I asked the writers to select three pieces of writing to show all they’ve learned about what writing should look and sound like. After self-selecting three pieces of writing, writers paired with their partner and discussed each piece, working to choose just one to be placed with the other best work samples.
Once writers were holding only one piece of writing, we gathered in a circle on the carpet. I passed out the first day of school writing and their previous choice of writing. They didn’t wait for directions from me. Students began talking about the pieces of writing, laughing at the first piece, asking to add or change the story; the room was filled with reflective conversation. These young learners were intentional and focused in their reflections. Their conversations made it hard to believe they were only 6 years-old.
Exceeding My Expectations
The chatter in the room was infectious, I wanted to hold on to these conversations, and I wanted the kids to hear from each other. I reached into the paper drawer and pulled out pink paper. I handed each student a piece of pink paper and gave them one simple and open direction-
“Tell me what you noticed about yourself as a writer.”
I expected comments about spacing, handwriting and spelling words and I did get some of that, but the writing they handed back to me showed me the potential of these young writers when we believe in them and set our expectations high.
Th students are young, but they are driven and determined learners. They’re ready to be learners. Learners who reflect and strive to reach new goals and all we have to do is believe in them.