The writing sample comes from a six year old first grade student. This student has not been identified as ESL or SPED and does not receive these types of services. The student participates in regular classroom literacy instruction. The writing sample chosen for this student looks like this: "this is my moder. she is my favrt prsn. she is nis to me. I laik hr vere mush. she cuks gud. she taks me to skul." This writing sample provides important evidence that this student is grasping phonetic concepts when attempting to spell and write. The words included in this sample appear to be sounded out letter by letter. Despite the fact that many vowels are omitted from the spelling, it remains clear that the words follow traditional English rules with regards to letter sounds. The most apparent strength this student displays is the ability to correctly spell sight words on a consistent basis. The ability to consistently spell high frequency words is an important step in enhancing overall spelling ability. Further this student displays strength in punctuation as all the telling sentences included in the sample end with a period. However, there are two weaknesses present in this writing sample as well. The first is with spelling. This student appears to have a difficult time spelling words with multiple syllables such as "mother" and "favorite." The sample also shows weakness with capitalization rules as none of the sentences begin with a capital letter.
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This student appears to be between the letter name stage of spelling and the within word stage of spelling. The letter name stage of spelling is present when a student can use consonant blends, diagraphs and short vowels in order to spell. The sample used here shows this stage in words such as "she" that uses the "sh" consonant blend. The letter name stage is also shown in words such as "cuks" (cooks), "gud" (good), and "skul" (school). Although, these words are not spelled correctly, it is clear from their phonetic spelling that the student understands vowel sounds and applies those sounds to spelling. At the same time, there are examples of the within word stage of spelling as well. However, these examples are not frequent enough to determine that this student has successfully mastered the letter name stage of spelling. For example, the words "nis" (nice) and "taks" (takes) are included in the writing sample. Again, these words are not spelled correctly, but it is clear that the student is hearing the long vowel sounds present in these words and including them in the spelling sample. The student is also progressing developmentally in that the absence of silent letters still appears in the writing sample. As the student continues to enhance understanding of the within word stage of spelling, silent letters can be introduced and used correctly.
The writing sample presented indicates that this student is between Stage Five and Stage Six of the Developmental Writing Stages. Stage Five indicates that the student uses consonants to represent words. In this stage, the student begins to leave spaces between words and writes sentences that tell ideas (The Wright Group, 2). The student shows evidence of this stage through the use of spaces between each word in the sample as well as the clear reliance on telling sentences. Further, the student has begun to rely on punctuation to show the end of one sentence and the beginning of another sentence (The Wright Group, 2). Finally, the student relies on knowledge of consonant sounds in order to spell the words within each telling sentence. The writing sample indicates some proficiency in Stage Six which is shown by correctly spelling sight words, siblings’ names and environmental print while the majority of words are spelled as they sound (The Wright Group, 2). Stage Six is also indicated because the writing sample is readable even though most of the words are spelling incorrectly. Evidence of this stage is shown in words such as "favrt" and "prsn." The vowels are omitted from these words but they are able to be read based on the correct use of each sound heard in the spoken word.
The spelling weakness that this student presents is a difficulty spelling words that contain multiple syllables. A mini lesson to improve the syllable use during spelling will include the use of spelling words that are written on sentence strips or heavy cardstock and then cut apart to form puzzle pieces that correspond to the number of syllables in the word. For example, if the word has two syllables the written word will be cut into two puzzle pieces. The student will use these puzzle pieces to create whole words in order to gain an understanding of how multiple syllable words work. The writing sample shows that the student spells mother as "moder," which makes a two syllable word become a one syllable word. If the word "mother" was cut into two pieces – one that says "moth" and one that says "er" the student can practice each syllable individually before attempting to spell them as one word. This enables the student to sound one syllable part out individually and then place the parts together to form a complete word.
The grammar weakness present in the student writing sample is the lack of capitalization at the beginning of the sentences. A mini lesson to improve capitalization during writing will include a group of words that can be put together to make a sentence. The teacher will write several sentences on sentence strips or heavy card stock and then cut each word apart from the others. The student will then find the word that is capitalized and form the rest of the sentence from there. This gives the student practice identifying capital letters as well as always placing them at the beginning of a sentence. Additionally, the teacher can give the student a list of lower case letters and allow the student to write the capitalized equivalent of each letter next to it. This can be laminated and kept at the student desk for future reference when writing until the student gains a firm grasp on what capital letters look like and when to use them. Finally, the teacher can use the example of a capital letter being the biggest so it has the important job of leading the entire sentence and must be placed at the front of the line. This visualization will help as well.
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