Design Plan for First and Second-Grade Children
A core lesson to serve
as the repeating framework for an ongoing elementary-age writing program
– Elementary Composition
– Our First “Young Writers” Class
Level – 1st and 2nd grade level
– 25 minutes
the first-day session includes an introduction to writing, and ends prior to the "reading with conferences" activity
"Don't assign, share in writing." - Donald Graves,
Discipline Wholeness of the Lesson:
we will learn to write a story about something that is fun for us. It could be about a nice memory about a trip, a favorite
pet or something we like to do. This will help us to see that it is actually very easy to write a story. Later, we will put
our story into a book with pictures which illustrate our writing so that we can show it to our family.”
Wholeness of the Lesson:
“As is the knower, so is the known.”
expressing himself or herself in the form of writing, the child finds out that each book he reads is also a simple expression of one author’s inner consciousness and creativity.
Writing is easy when we just think of an idea and then
write it down as though we were talking to another person, or to our family. Later, we can correct and improve our sentences.
Creative writing is a process of “inner reflection”.
This means that we must be able to think about our ideas quietly without being disturbed by others.
Self-expression means that we “give our ideas”
on something. We use what we already know or what we know how to imagine to start writing about something. It is sometmes easier to start with writing about something
real (called non-fiction).
Objectives of the Learning
To learn to be able to come up with ideas and know that
we can write about them to express them
To be able to find or to create a quiet place and a quiet
moment to write in
To gain skill at letting our ideas flow onto the paper
Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment – Writing Goals and Bennchmarks for Primary Grades:
· Learn and practice alphabet
· Practice invented spelling
· Publish books, using writer’s
workshop publishing cycle
will discover the value of a “Writing Studio atmosphere” so that we may repeat
it and use it at home at anytime. Say - “We are going to have a quiet writing period to allow our ideas to flow
from inside of us. We will do it together as a group so that the classroom will be filled
with ideas!” 35
the first grade and in kindergarten we have been learning to create things. Today we will learn to begin to write about our
ideas – that is to create “writings”. Writing is easy once you have an idea. You just start to let the idea
flow as if you were talking about it with somebody.”
are only three steps to writing. The first is a quiet place to do it. We will be
making our classroom into a quiet place in a minute.
second step is to have an idea to write about – something that it would be
fun to think about and to write about. How many people think they have an idea that they would like to write about?”
Let the class brainstorm their ideas for a minute. Write these briefly on the board as they emerge.
third step is to have a reason to write. The best reason for writing -- which you
will discover in a minute -- is that writing is fun! Maharishi says that “outer depends on inner”. In writing,
this means that when we write our stories on paper we can see what fun we have had in our lives, or what important things
we have learned by living.
we are going to start writing today. Even if you think that writing is hard, by the end of the lesson you will realize that
it isn’t hard if you just take it easy. Don’t try to write “well” at first. Just let your writing
flow onto the paper like paint flows from a paintbrush. How many people like to paint in this class? So now just “paint
your ideas in words” -- and then later we can actually draw or paint them in pictures, as well, in our book."
when we do put it all together in a book it will be even better because Maharishi says that the whole is something
even bigger that just the parts put together. Who would like to have a real book to show their family which they wrote themselves?
This will make another very good reason for us to write -- for somebody else to
have fun by reading our book!”
(as suggested by Donald
Graves in “Writing” 1983)
Newsprint or loose leaf paper
Pen or any writing
instrument that suits the child’s style best, but which does not erase
Manila folder to store daily writings in for one year (or much longer!)
As examples to use, write down three or four things for
yourself to write about the night before the class:
· Favorite pets you have had in your life
Incidents that happened to you when you were the
children’s age, especially in
· “I know about” // or “I
want to know more about”
through your topics, and then bring them to class. In the classroom, demonstrate the procedure of listing topics:
Hand out the newsprint sheets. Say "I am going to write, too." Show them on the
overhead projector how to list possible topics: number the screeen 1-4, then "think
of" and list two of your topics (note - demonstrate "inventive spelling"
as you write your ideas down). Tell them how you came up with your ideas (as you actually did the night before.) Do the second two ideas the same way. Next, have the children list 3-4 topics -- "just as I did" -- for 2 minutes. Then have them read their
ideas to each other in pairs.
Choosing One of the Topic:
one of your topics to write about. Discuss how you made the choice -- say, "think out loud" -- and what you hope to find out more about by writing
on it. "I really like my bike, but I think I want to tell the story about
how we got our puppy." Next, give the children one minute (set timer) to choose one of their topics. They may think about it or may also
discuss it with a friend (demonstrate this also). They should put a star on their "idea list" chosen
topic. If no topic has come to them, they should just start writing about
anything. “Let the words go down on the paper. In time a subject will come to you.” (Graves 1983)
Silent Writing Session
“Now we will start writing. Just
write, don’t erase. Cross out words whenever you need to change something or
to restart a sentence. If you get stuck spelling a word put the first letter and then a blank and come back later, but don’t stop writing just
because of one word. I will be writing, too. 6 Whenever I am writing I do not like to be disturbed, so everyone should just do their own writing for five minutes quietly. If you have questions, see if
they can be answered by just writing -- or save them for five minutes and continue writing until I am done.”
On the first day lesson (only), skip now to "Demonstrations List". For the second day and onward, continue below.
Visiting Your Writers:
After five minutes, walk around and observe the
children writing. Answer questions individually and quietly to maintain the “studio atmosphere” and their continued
writing. A “quiet buzz” in the room is alright. (Graves)
“Receiving” Their Work:
For ten minutes receive their work by conferencing. Make
a list of children for one-minute conferences. Let the child “teach” you the specifics of his or her work
(Graves). Read back a phrase from their writing. Focus their attention on word flow and the release of information by asking,
“What happens next?” Comment on their information -- “What a big dog you have! What’s it like to feed
him? What does he eat?”
If no or very little writing has happened yet or is not continuing, elicit “What happened?”
from any topic. “Do you need help?” “I have stupid ideas.” “What ideas?” “The space
shuttle.” “Did you see the shuttle come in?” “Yes.” “How do they get a giant shuttle up
in space? How do they bring it back? Think about it for a minute and I’ll be back.” (per Graves)
Writing can be scary. It’s very important to demonstrate:
· Leaving a blank for a trouble word “G__________”
· No erasing but yes (!) crossing out words
just “inventive” spelling to start ☺
their topics (use an assistant to
and asking” between partners )
After ten minutes of conferencing and writing, ask for anyone who would like to read their writings. Choose
a child who has written something to start (important).
Share their work as a group for two or three minutes. What
were some of the topics? How did it go? Then share your struggles and learning.
“Would anyone like to read what they have so far? Even read just one line you like?” Three or four works at the
most … Follow the same “Receiving Their Work” guidelines above, only now in front of the group. Use a phrase from their work. Then let the children ask one or two questions of the writer. “Would anyone like to
ask Simon a question about his topic?”
Final Step - “The Writer’s Folder”
Have ready for each child a strong folder to last them the whole year. Keep in a central box or file drawer
so they can see that you honor their creations. Repeat this session on each writing day, adding “mini-lessons” on grammar to
begin each writing studio.
Strategies for lesson:
· Child is learning
how to be able to “come up with ideas” and is beginning to know that he or she can “write on their ideas”.
Child participates in the offering of ideas in classroom forums.
· Child is able to find and use a quiet place and a quiet
moment to write. He or she is able to settle into the quiet atmosphere of the writing studio without
excessive delay. Child is able to maintain his writing task without needing to talk to other children or even to the teacher,
once solitary writing has begun.
· Child is gaining skill at letting ideas “flow onto
the paper” as writing. 18 Child maintains courage during the initial stage of idea elaboration. 19 Child sees his own writings as something of value, equal to those of his classmates. 20 Child feels satisfaction at having expressed his ideas in writing form. 21
Donald. Writing: Teachers & Children at Work . Portsmouth, New Hampshire: