Celebrating Writing!

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Getting a new dog, picking pumpkins and going to the beach are just some of the topics that young authors at Locust Valley Elementary School wrote about and shared with their families during writing celebrations in several classes. While these topics can be broad, students are learning to write about moments in time, honing in on specific details of larger events.

Maura Hauck’s third-grade class at Locust Valley Intermediate School shared their writing with their families and described to the visitors the process they used to create their personal narratives. Some of these writing skills included starting new paragraphs when something new happens, using quotation marks and showing how their characters feel. They also used editing strategies such as looking for words in the dictionary and writing a word three times to see if it looked correct.

Ms. Hauck said her students’ true narratives required learning many skills and understanding that editing and revising written work is necessary. 

“It is important that writers share their work, since writing is meant to communicate and share with the world,” she said.  She invited the author’s families to a writing celebration in which guests not only heard several students read their stories, but also provided written feedback for each story. “Feedback is crucial to writers,” Ms. Hauck explained.

At Ann MacArthur Primary School, the entire first grade held author celebrations in their individual classrooms. These authors learned to stretch out a small moment in time by sharing thoughts and feelings and to think about how to use the five senses. They focused on writing a creative beginning to draw readers in and an interesting ending to pull the story together. Authors welcomed each of the guests to hear their stories, and visitors were encouraged to get autographs from each of the authors. Sharing their stories with others and giving their autographs helped students feel that their writing is important.

First-grade teacher Karen Kriesberg agreed with Ms. Hauck that having an audience is an important part of the students’ growth as writers. “The author celebration does just that – celebrates our young writers becoming published authors,” Ms. Kriesberg said. “They have the opportunity to share their writing as professional writers do, for an audience. When the children see themselves as writers, it motivates them to learn even more about writing.”

First-grade teachers Kim Derenthal, Kim Herlich and Brianna Spitaliere each held the same author celebration in their classrooms as part of the writing curriculum.

These writing projects and subsequent celebrations were in line with the Teachers College Writing Project curriculum, which the district adopted this year. Elementary school teachers received professional development from Teachers College and are all using the program to enhance student writing.