The design for all the grade levels will be based on the same philosophy, so read below for more information!
The unique lesson design of Growing Writers…
Part of the mission of Growing Writers is to meet the needs of both the lowest- and the highest- skilled writers in the class. Many children feel stressed by writing because they are given writing tasks before they have the pre-skills necessary to succeed at those tasks. This curriculum continually boosts the skill levels of everyone, by providing two types of activities in each lesson. Here is what you can look forward to doing:
The daily conventions assignment
The conventions lessons are simple and fun. These lessons build on one another and increase in difficulty by a small increment each day. By the end of the year all students will have mastered the conventions of first grade writing without struggling or experiencing feelings of failure.
I have found that these assignments foster confidence because they have repetition built in. Repetition is practice, and practice is what allows a learner to improve, whether the skill is basketball, ballet, or writing. Children are taught each skill clearly and explicitly in a group lesson before they begin the assignment.
The skilled writers in your class will feel confident because they complete the conventions lesson easily and move on to the challenge (see below). Struggling writers will gain confidence because the conventions lesson is within their range of capability; they will be proud to finish it even if it takes more effort for them.
To be effective, this page should be corrected and fixed the same day it is given. This immediate feedback and opportunity to improve is where so much learning takes place.
The daily creative challenge
Students will also have a creative challenge every day, an activity they do to the best of their ability but not to a standard. The challenge activity may be a “free write” (with some higher expectations for those who can meet them) or it may be a small project.
The more experienced writers in the class can be encouraged to go as far as they are able—to write more, draw more, or think more deeply. The less capable students can enjoy doing the activity also, even if they get a later start due to spending more time and effort on the conventions assignment. I have found that my lower-skilled writers feel so good about completing the conventions page that self-esteem is not an issue.
The challenge page also builds skills in the area of content. The Common Core standards for content – opinion writing, report writing, and personal narrative – are introduced here.
There are 7 workbooks in Level 1. It starts with simple handwriting and drawing skills and works up to writing “super sentences” (with a when, where, and a conjunction) and simple paragraphs by the end of the year.
Students are also introduced to concepts such as different genres of writing, the idea of detail in writing, and strategies for figuring out where to put periods. These punctuation strategies are not simply intuitive, as in some writing programs. They involve learning some basic grammar.
Assessments are built into each workbook. Some are daily, such as the teacher marking whether a page was completed independently or with help. Some are at the end of the workbook to see what students gained from the lessons. There is a checklist and a place for comments on the back of each workbook before sending it home to parents.
Note: at this time the Level 1 curriculum is completed. This is aimed at first grade and remedial writing for second grade. Materials for kindergarten and second grade will be available in summer of 2017. If you purchase the Level 1 materials, your school will be eligible to pilot the kindergarten and second grade programs for 2017-18.