Monday, May 5, 2014


Visiting elementary schools as an author takes me back to my days teaching high school English and Social Studies. Although the age group is much younger, I find that there are some of the same lessons to be taught. 

When I taught English, I focused on teaching the students how to write essays and stories. I concentrated first on developing a paragraph - topic sentence, discussion and conclusion. We then moved onto multi-paragraph essays and then stories. Although diagraming sentences was in vogue at that time, I felt my time and theirs was better spent on learning the basics of writing and, in that writing process, thinking.

My recent visit to Hawthorne Elementary School
with first and second graders, gave me an opportunity to revisit these writing lessons. These students were pulled out of various classes because they were the best writers. Naturally I simplified the lesson to be appropriate to the grade levels. In my first writing assignment for these children, found that most of the students knew that a story or paragraph should have a beginning, middle and end, but that they had trouble remembering to sum up their ideas in a conclusion.  In the four days I spent with each group, I concentrated on pointing out this basic story and paragraph structure both in their writing and in our group discussions, concentrating on the need for an end.

I am heartened to find that children as young as six and seven are learning this basic writing structure and that they are so accomplished at their age. I only wish my high school students of long ago had such capabilities.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Are they learning cursive writing? Many schools are not teaching it anymore--big mistake.

I love going into classrooms and talking about writing--great fun and so satisfying, isn't it?

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I'm not sure about cursive. I know my six-year old granddaughter is trying to write cursive and promises to send me a sample soon.

Yes, working with young children is very satisfying. They are so eager to learn and have such vivid imaginations where anything is possible. I envy them for that. Beryl