Revisiting composing

I was looking back at some earlier posts and I was interested in one that was written after an OPL (meeting with other Reading Recovery teachers and tutor) about Composing.

At that time- We were asked to bring samples of writing from our students. One sample was to be a piece that thewriting student had written completely unaided, including no discussion about a topic and no help with the grammar.

I chose to try this again with each of my students. I wanted to find out what the students would write with no talk about it first, and no help at all during the writing. I would then compare it to a sample of writing from a typical lesson (a lot of discussion first). Only 1 of the 4 students happily wrote straight away. Each of the students have a Non-English Background so it is usually even more important to talk about the topic before they compose their sentences (vocabulary, structure).

Student 1 (nearly finished RR) happily began writing straight away.
Unaided she wrote about the book that she had just read:
The troll jumped up and said you are not coming my bridge.
After a discussion, on another day she wrote:
Goldilocks saw a house in the forest and she saw some things that she could do.
 After the discussion she was able to use correct grammar. She wrote a longer sentence using more words that were not taken directly from the book.

Student 2 sat thinking about it for 2 minutes before he started.
He wrote about a favourite topic:
I like to play games with my friends.
After a discussion, on another day he wrote:
On Saturday my dad bought my mum a new car and on Sunday my dad bought a basketball ring for me.
After the discussion he was able to add more detail to his sentence.

Student 3 tried to engage me in a conversation before she finally realised that I really puppywould not be helping at all with the writing that day.
She decided to write about her puppy. She has previously written many sentences about it.
My sister was annoying my puppy yesterday she was annoying my puppy.
After a discussion, on another day she wrote:
My puppy accidently scratched my cheek.
She wrote more unaided but she repeated herself, and the spelling was very ‘interesting’. This student requires more time to match oral and written language (talking and writing) so there is less time to write longer sentences.

Student 4 squirmed around in his chair for 2 minutes before he started writing.
He chose to write about doing his homework as I had just praised him for doing it.
I did my homework at home.
After a discussion, on another day he wrote:
Mother Chimp was walking for a long time and she got tired.
After the discussion about his book he wrote more and he thought about why Mother Chimp was tired.

Talking before writing helped the students to think about a topic, and to sort through rrguidetheir many ideas, or to expand a simple thought. The grammar of my speech was copied (buyed / bought) without me needing to draw attention to it. There are many benefits to having a genuine conversation before inviting the student to write. Using a book that the student has recently read can sometimes be used to inspire the use of new words and sentence structure.

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