Taking risks when writing

I know that the students who are going to be the easiest-to-teach are usually the risk takers. They are the ones that are not scared of making mistakes and they’ll have a go at every task.

When it comes to writing, the risk takers do not wait to be told how to write every word. They do not stick to writing words that they can already write.

2 students wrote about their own experiences at a swimming pool after reading a book about Emma and Matthew at the pool with their dad.

STUDENT A wrote: I like the pool.

STUDENT B wrote: Smtims I go dn the sid at the pola. We dedt wont to get let so we got chad wle fast.
(TRANSLATION: Sometimes I go down the slide at the pool. We didn’t want to get late so we got changed really fast.)

Student B used ‘invented spelling’ when she didn’t know how to spell a word. Her focus was to get her message written down.

Of course it is important for students to learn how to spell correctly or else others will have trouble understanding the intended message, but it is equally important for the students to be able to write their thoughts down quickly. (While the thoughts are still ‘in the head’. To have time to write more.) Student B was able to tell us much more about her experiences at the pool than Student A.

If we limit our students to only writing words that they already know how to spell, we may stop their desire to try communicating at all. Some students resist being risk takers because they have been ‘told off’ or corrected so many times it is totally discouraging.

During the Reading Recovery lessons I help the students to learn ways of solving words:

  • Say a word slowly and listen for the sounds
  • Use an alphabet chart, or a previous piece of writing for help
  • Listen for a similar known word family, e.g. cat, that
  • Think about word parts or chunks that you know, e.g. pl-ay-ing
  • Write one syllable (hand clap) at a time, e.g. yes / ter / day.

I also value all the attempts that the student makes. ‘That was a fantastic try at writing sometimes. You wrote down all the sounds that you could hear’. I do not expect the student to work on every word. I write parts of words and sentences for the student. (This varies from student to student, and more help is given early in the series of lessons.)

When your children are writing messages for you at home tell them how pleased you are that they are writing. Value the message and praise their ideas. Don’t feel that every word has to be fixed.

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