In October I wrote on how I use writing portfolios to help guide classroom instruction in my first grade class. We are now finished with the first trimester of the school year and this week we are having parent conferences to discuss academic progress and social-emotional growth. It has been a challenging first trimester to say the least, particularly with the implementation of the new Common Core Standards. Nevertheless, we teachers keep chugging along, trying our best, looking for new and innovative ways to maintain rigor, curiosity and depth to the given curriculum.
As I mentioned on the previous post, I always give my first graders a writing assessment on the first day of school to get a baseline of where they are academically in terms of language, spelling and penmanship. Unfortunately two of the samples I included are no longer in my classroom. For this reason, I am including a new student who didn’t start the school year with me, but came in September. Hopefully I won’t have any students transfer out of my class as is the case in many urban school settings.
In class we have been doing many activities to promote and foster the love of reading and writing. We read about three read alouds per day ranging from simple pattern books to more sophisticated informational texts that are usually aligned to science and social studies. We do shared writing activities, writer’s workshop, guided writing and writing throughout the curriculum. We also make big books to complement our units of study. A former student who is now in second grade stopped by to visit today and said, “I miss your class because you used to read us lots of stories.” I make it a point to read stories of varying genres in the morning, after lunch and before going home. Albert Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Check out their latest writing portfolio entries….they are coming along!
This student is on grade level and is doing well in all subject areas.
This student is developing proficiency in language arts.
This student is far below grade level and receiving intensive reading intervention in and out of the classroom. But I am proud of the progress, albeit slow. This student can now write first and last name independently and is beginning to demonstrate beginning sounds in writing.
I will continue to work with my first graders in small and whole group settings, collaborating with my grade level and finding ways to help them succeed. My team teacher said something that has stayed with me all night as I write this post. “No matter where our students are (academically speaking), they are not afraid to write. They sit down, write and do their best.”
I’m looking forward to another successful trimester. I will report back in February at the end of the second trimester with more student samples. Until then, keep reading, writing and having fun!
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King
“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.” — Virginia Woolf
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin