on to “Half and Half”............
When the children are using both words and drawing in their writing
(usually in Grade 1), it is then time to move to “Half and Half.” If in Grade 2
students are reluctant to write or have not had much writing experience, it may
be prudent to start out in the first few weeks with “Half and Half.”
“Half and Half” is a format where the top half of the paper is unlined for
the drawing, while the bottom half of the paper is lined for writing.
The teacher makes a transparency using “Half and
Half” paper. During the mini-lesson she demonstrates where to draw and where to
write. She models aloud how she thinks about possible topics to write about and
how she makes a decision on one topic. She writes one or two simple sentences
to begin. She talks aloud as she writes. She refers to the Word Wall to help
with spelling. The teacher also models how we “stretch out words” to help with
spelling. She also reminds them of any phonics rules that might be of help. She
intentionally may misspell a difficult word (stretching it out and spelling it
with inventive spelling). This will reassure the beginning writer that they
need not have a perfect piece at this stage. The teacher reads back her work.
The teacher may draw the picture at the end or draw the picture first to
demonstrate how sometimes the picture will help us to tell the story.
Now the children write.... (usually 10-15 minutes)
Children write and draw at the level that they are
at. The teacher walks around the room encouraging students. She does not spell
words for them. She simply tells them that first (or second) grade teachers are
not allowed to spell the words for them. She reminds them to look at the Word
Wall. She helps them to “stretch out” the words and write down the sounds that
they hear. (It is not necessary for them to get every letter right at this
stage.) She does “roving conferences” at this point, rather than individual
conferences. When the timer goes off, children must stop and place their work
in their folder. Unfinished work can be finished the next day. Students that
are finished can start a new story. Each child should have a two pocket folder.
One side is labeled Finished Work and the other side reads Work in Progress.
Both teacher and student need to be reassured that a finished piece may
take more than one workshop.
The last 5 minutes is reserved for “Author’s
Chair.” Children will share what they have written, even if it’s only a picture
with a few words. The teacher responds favorably to all authors. It will be
amazing how they will progress.
When the students are able to work independently
for 15-20 minutes, the teacher may then move on to Writing,
Revising/Editing and Publishing. At that time she begins individual
conferences. The teacher will know when to move on. This will depend on the
individual class and how well the ground work has been laid.