Star Class: Writing fun

Published 8:00 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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Welcome to Room No. 134, a second-grade classroom at Hawthorne.  Almost every day at 9:15, our classroom becomes an author’s writing and editing paradise. I’ve been very impressed with the enthusiasm and love that these learners have for creating personal narratives about their lives. They write meaningful, interesting, engaging, informative and often hilarious stories about themselves.  Some of their stories will make you laugh, while others just warm your heart. There are ones that will bring tears to your eyes. Still others stories make you want to celebrate out loud. All of this from 7 and 8 year olds who are learning the craft of writing.  Not just learning it, but living it and loving it.

We start each writing lesson with a target goal.  It might sound something like: I can use a who, did what in my sentence. I can write a sentence that makes sense. Other targets deal with the mechanics of writing:  I can put in a green light (capital) at the beginning and a red light (ending punctuation) at the end. A monthly writing sample is collected to assess student growth. Along with learning our second-grade Minnesota writing standards, we have mentor writers.  These are real life authors who help us learn about the beauty of writing. Currently we are learning about Robert Munsch, a favorite children’s author. His writing journey is helping us understand how to become better writers.

Incorporated into our writing time, you will find some reading, math and even science. We use our phonics skills to stretch words in our writing. It’s also true that writing is connected to every part of our day. In a year when our mental health needs nurturing, writing gives us a way to express our feelings and share our challenges.  We build relationships with each other by sharing our stories and making connections to each other as human beings. Writing is able to wrap around any curricular area and any social and emotional learning.

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During independent writing time, all learners are writing, writing, writing.  Four or five kids are at the teacher table for guided writing each day. I have a standards based writing checklist of skills for each child. As they write, I individually conference with each child, document progress towards the standard, teach mini lessons that are differentiated, even share the pen by writing with the child. 

To give my kids a real life writing experience, I asked them to contribute to this article.  Here is what they like about writing in our class:  “I get to draw first.”  “It calms me down.”  “Mistakes are part of my learning.”  “It’s FUN!”  “We get to tell our stories.” “I can share or keep my writing private.”  “You get to feel your true feelings.”  “I get to fix my own writing.” “Mrs. Jacobsen lets us choose our own topic.” “We have four different kinds of paper to write on.” “I can choose where I want to sit.”  “Friends can help me.”  “My teacher loves to write.” “I get to spell words my own way.”  So grateful to be spending the year with this insightful group of friends.

At the end of each writing session, we double check our work.  The final question we ask ourselves is: Do I like it? Above all else, every child gets to feel that their writing matters, that they matter, regardless of what they want or need to say.

— Pam Jacobsen