We have worked since the beginning of March, 20 minutes a day, on a personal narrative. Writing is really hard, and takes a long time. I have asked students to answer the following questions before writing:
What is the setting?
What does the main character want?
How did you feel about the event in your story?
Is there a conflict?
How did it end, and how did you feel then?
We talk a lot about “adding details” in elementary schools, but I believe structure is the most important piece of telling a story. Second graders typically don’t have the vocabulary to add that much detail, but they can grasp beginning, middle, and end. Working within the limitations of the structure will yield creative work.
I’m also trying to get students to think about their perfect reader, that person they don’t know, and to consider that person as they write. I also want them to “read like a writer.” I’m also reminding them that if they do not have fun writing their story (on some level) then they will have less readers. Writing at this level should always be fun.
I basically give them all the tools I was given in creative writing courses at FSU (stuff no one ever told me in public school) and then I expect them to produce second grade work: simply stories, with good structure, with an eye for spelling and periods. Most stories will really be more of a summary, but that’s about right at this age. Some will go beyond that.
Ask them what they are writing about!
Hope to have these on the wall after spring break.