Writing Like a Third Grader


#sol- Writing Like a Third Grader

August 23, 2016

Today I was humbled (again). We are in the part of the writing unit where I am supposed to introduce the grade three narrative writing checklist to the students. We looked at a sample third grade piece of writing and we discussed which parts should be rated “not yet”, “starting to”, or “yes!”. It was easy to go through and find proof of our assessment. Then came the hard part. We were each to turn to our most recent writing and self-assess it. We looked critically at our writing and searched for proof of our ratings.

As their teacher, I felt it only fair to look at my own writing through this lens. Keep in mind that I am many years past third grade. There are 12 criteria, yet in only three areas did I rate a “yes!” (and they were in punctuation and spelling). While I talked with my students about the need to set high standards for ourselves, and not talk ourselves into overrating, it was still humbling. Okay, so this piece in my school writing notebook was written for this unit, it was not writing I did for myself or for my blog, but still… I am asking them to do hard work!

It is in moments like this that I remember the reasons that I am a teacher who writes. Today’s lesson filled me with empathy for the writers who have so many goals they do not know what to work on most or first. I also understand the writers who see the end goal as being so far away from where they are today. I also face the challenge of continuing to work hard to improve a piece, even though the first draft was what you may have considered your best, or good enough. I love being able to talk honestly with my students about how hard it is to be a writer and today they got a close look at my checklist, to see firsthand that their teacher is working on goals too.

6 thoughts on “Writing Like a Third Grader

  1. sallydonnelly11

    Thanks for sharing your honest, humbling experience. I love using the checklists because it names the things a writer can do and I can more easily see if I did it in this piece. I can’t wait for my school to start!! And know I’ll be right there with you…sometimes I write as good as a 3rd grader and many times I have areas to work on! So I keep on writing to get better!

  2. Fran Haley

    Such an important message – growing as a writer yourself to help the children grow. We are all on a continuum! It is hugely important to look at and appreciate the ground we have covered, in addition to that of our students. So insightful.

  3. Lisa

    I love this! It is good to look at our own writing and see if we are doing what we ask the students to do. Sometimes I get into the flow of writing and forget to check and see if I am doing the things on the checklist. I can see how it would be hard to do that as a kid. Thank goodness for the revision!

  4. Jaana

    Your honest writing is a reminder to me as I begin my school year tomorrow to be authentic as a writer (and reader too) with my students!! Thank you!!

  5. Brian Rozinsky

    That is, indeed, some down and dirty work you’re describing, Erika. Such shuttling between the forest of the piece and the trees of the checklist feels formatively powerful and exhausting 🙂


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