Teach Your Child To Write ~ Research Based

A QUICK FYI:  LETTER FORMATION IS IMPORTANT!  Students who form letters correctly and who have a firm grasp on spelling will have an easier time writing.  Poor handwriting, in combination with poor spelling, can contribute to disability in written expression (Graham, Harris, & Fink 2000, Graham, MacArthur, Fitzgerald, p. 276).  Failure to develop automatic and legible letter and word formation may interfere with content in writing (Jones & Christiansen, 1999, Graham, MacArthur, Fitzgerald, p. 276).  Students devoting too much time to letter formation or letter retrieval have less time for spelling, planning, and expressing themselves.

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Parents, please view the following TRAITS to teach your child HOW TO WRITE.  Be sure your child has included evidence of all of the writing traits in his/her piece!   First, help your child make a graphic organizer of what he/she plans on including.  It’s best to zoom in on a small moment, rather than a “I woke up” through “I went to bed” story.

 THE TRAITS ARE HOW WE WRITE, and Consists of. . .

1.Ideas:  central message and details, the content  Find a topic.  Decide on a title that captures the theme in an enticing way.  Focus on the topic, making it narrow and manageable.  Develop the topic in a fresh way with insight and evidence, transcending the obvious and predictable.  Use NUMEROUS details to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.  The exact details make the writer credible, especially with the use of believable anecdotes.  Be memorable.

2. Organization:  internal structure, thread of logic and pattern of meaning. Create the lead that entices the reader in..

Tips for Interesting Openers to Hook the Reader In!

  • State an interesting fact or thought!  Did you know that it is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open?  I learned this the hard way. . . .
  • Ask a question.  Did you ever wonder what it would be like if. . . ?
  • Make a bold or surprising statement, or a promise.  It is true; I  am a skiing master!  This was realized when. . . .
  • Give a definition.  Dictionary.com defines happiness as pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, and satisfaction.  I experienced all of this when. . . .
  • Start with 3 adjectives.  Spooky, creepy, and scary are three words that come to mind whenever I think about last Halloween.
  • A quote.  “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”  (Bill Cosby)  This rang true for me when. . . .
  • A flashback.   I will never forget that Christmas. . . .
  • Sound.   Chirp, chirp, chirp. . . .
  • Action.   The waves were crashing against the rocks. . . .
  • Dialogue.   “Happy birthday!”  Mom exclaimed as I . . . .
  • Setting or character description.   Be very descriptive telling time and place.  Use senses when describing settings and characters. 
  • State a problem.  Be very descriptive.  Use senses.Use sequence and transition words to show the reader how the ideas progress, relate, diverge.  Develop the body, fitting the details together logically, slowing down to highlight important parts, events, and speeding up to move reader along.

End with a sense of resolution and closure.Tips For Ending Your Story

  • Circular ~ end it from the place you began!
  • Question ~ ask a thought provoking question at the end.
  • Cliffhanger ~ leave the ending suspenseful and up in the air.
  • Hopes/wishes ~ tell the reader your secret hopes and wishes.
  • Advice ~ offer the reader a piece of advice!
  • Moral ~ tell the lesson that you learned.
  • Quote ~ research a quote on the internet around the theme of your story, and end it. with the quote.  (Don’t forget to say who said the quote!)

3.Voice:  tone and tenor, personal stamp achieved through strong understanding of purpose and audience  Establish a tone, showing you care by being expressive and compelling, credible.  Convey the purpose to add interest in your overall message ~ is this a narrative piece, informational piece, persuasive piece? Create a connection to the audience.  As the writer, you need to consider what the reader needs to know, and what is the best way to share this.  Take risks to create voice.  Be original, fresh, and sound like yourself!  VOICE MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT TRAIT, SUPPORTING AND EXTENDING WHAT THE WRITER SAYS!  VOICE SEPARATES GREAT WRITING FROM PROFICIENT PIECES (Culham, p. 46).  

Northern Nevada Writing Project recommends to show:

Your Personality ~ be honest, sincere, have passion and confidence

Your Emotions ~ energetic, heart-felt, your true feelings coming through, invite feelings from the reader, too

Your Style ~ be either a reporter or a storyteller, showcase your techniques, sound like you, take risks

Your Point of View ~ show an emotion, consider perspectives, be aware of your audience, be sensitive to them

Your Experience ~ know your voice, show insight, sound believable, own the topic

4.Word Choice:  vocabulary chosen CAREFULLY to convey meaning.  THINK OF THE 5 SENSES.  Mrs. Araujo suggests keeping AABH-SOAP in mind which stands for the following. . .!  Get a thesaurus or go to:  http://www.thesaurus.com/ 

A: Adjectives ~ describe nouns (beautiful, soft, crispy, delicate, rosy, etc.)  Be thoughtful and specific.  Use your 5 senses!

A:  Adverbs ~ describe verbs and usually end in ly (slowly, gently, happily, angrily, quickly) Use your 5 senses.  Be specific.

B: Better Words!  Instead of said say replied, whispered, responded, etc.  Instead of run say trotted, sprinted, dashed.  Think:  STRONGER VERBS!  Think:  STRONGER NOUNS!  Instead of car say Cadillac.  Instead of “The car drove by” try “The Cadillac rattled by.”  

H-SOAP is the Figurative Language you add to “clean up” your writing!

H:  Hyperboles ~ something that is greatly exaggerated (ate 1,000 pancakes, ran a one minute mile)

S:  Similes ~ compare using like or as (as bright as the sun, like a bull in a china shop)

O:  Onomatopoeias ~ sounds like the sound it makes (plop, drip, ring, crash)

A:  Alliteration ~ sentence or phrase with same letter sound (sweet smell of success or breezy, blustery day ~ just stick one or two in for effect)

P:  Personification ~ brings life to nonliving objects (the moon smiled and winked at me, or the chair welcomed me after the long day)

By picking the BEST words, you can SHOW, not just tell!

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5.Sentence Fluency:  the way words and sentences flow ~ the auditory trait because we “read” for it with the ear and eye  Capture smooth and rhythmic flow.  Read it out loud. How do the sentences sound?   Craft well-built sentences, and combine sentences using and, but, so and other transition words.  Vary sentence patterns and lengths.  Use a one word “sentence” for effect.  Use a mixture of simple sentences with more complex sentences. Have a few sentences answer WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN WHY HOW.  For example:  The man fell.  Change this to:  The lonely old man fell slowly and softly on the staircase leading up to the doctor’s office yesterday. Break the “rules” to create fluency, especially with dialogue to make the writing more authentic.

6.Conventions:  guides reader through the text and makes it easy to follow ~ spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage, paragraphing Check spelling. Use punctuation and indenting paragraphs.  Insert capitalization where needed.  Check published texts on how to use punctuation and capitalization for dialogue.  Apply grammar and usage, only breaking this for stylistic reasons. Otherwise, nouns/verbs should agree.  

7.Presentation:  physical appearance, should be visually appealing to invite reader in Apply handwriting skills, with consistent size, neatness, clearness, and spacing.  Use word processing with a clear and appropriate font, using color only to increase readability.  Use white spaces, including appropriate sized margins.  Incorporate text features that align with the content.  There should be no cross-outs or smudges.

9780689717383_smChoiceLiteracy.com (2006-2011) recommends Cynthia Rylant’s The Relatives Came to teach:

  • leads ~ gives a little information about the setting, and makes you wonder
  • endings ~ ease the reader into the conclusion
  • memoir writing ~ a small slice of life
  • internal thoughts ~ let’s us know what the characters are thinking
  • transition words ~ propels the reader through
  • visualizing ~ word choice, using the 5 senses, helps us
  • sentence variety ~ varied beginnings and lengths
  • voice ~ show ~ don’t tell, write like you talk
  • beginning, middle, end ~ clear, simple, story structure
  • circular story structure ~ this text is similar to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  

Parents, as you read aloud to or with your child, notice what real authors do that your child can do, too!

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