Daily Writing Develops Fluency (page 2)
In addition to lots of reading, lots of writing helps children become better decoders and spellers. This is especially true when young children are encouraged to invent-spell the words they need but haven't yet learned to spell. Clarke (1988) compared the decoding ability of end-of-the-year first-graders and found that first-graders who had been encouraged to invent-spell in first-grade were better at decoding words than first-graders from classrooms that emphasized correct spelling. One of the biggest concerns teachers express as they teach young children about sound and letter patterns is that the children don't apply what they know to actually figuring out words while reading. To invent-spell a word, however, you have to apply what you know because using your letter–sound knowledge is the way you get some letters to represent the word.
There are some words that teachers don't want children to invent-spell. High-frequency words such as they, said, and from are often spelled in the logical—but incorrect way—"thay, sed, frum." Chapter 6 will describe how to use a word wall to teach high-frequency words. When children write, they spell words as best they can in first draft—unless it is on the word wall. Word-wall words must be spelled correctly in everything children write because once a person does something over and over again, it becomes automatic. Children who write without a high-frequency word wall may write "thay, sed, frum" thousands of time and they will become automatic at spelling these words incorrectly.
Establishing a daily writing time is not difficult with young children. They all have things they want to tell, and if teachers model writing during a mini-lesson, encourage children to write about what they want to write about, and accept whatever writing they can do, young children delight in writing!
Older, struggling nonfluent readers do not delight in writing. In fact, they will tell you they hate to write. This "I hate to write" attitude can be turned around—but it takes patience and determination.
If you teach older nonfluent readers, you must first convince yourself of the value of their writing. As they write and spell the word-wall words correctly, they will become much faster and fluent at writing these words. As they "stretch out" some words to put down what they want to tell, they will be applying what they are learning about letter patterns and decoding. The more and faster they can write, the better they will like it!
Writing promotes word fluency. If you teach older children who hate to write, start doing a word wall and some of the activities described in the next chapter. Then schedule daily, short—10 minutes maximum—writing times. Model how to write by letting children watch you writing a few sentences about something you want to tell them, thinking aloud as you write. After they write, let them share if they choose to by reading or telling what they have written. Let them choose what they want to write about and emphasize that you are interested in what they want to tell and, as long as they spell word-wall words correctly, they should spell the other words as best they can.
Don't worry about publishing or what the final product looks like until your students get over their "I hate to write" attitudes. Then you can begin to help them improve their writing and learn to write particular things—including those on the mandated writing tests. (For more ideas about helping children learn to write fluently, see Classrooms That Work, Cunningham & Allington, 2007.)
© ______ 2009, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes
- Social Cognitive Theory
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- First Grade Sight Words List