Using my student’s writing to inform teaching and learning. Where do we go from here?

Angela Stockman ( a Literacy Coach in America) left a great comment on my last post asking me what I have taken away from the children’s writing which will inform program planning. I decided to write a post identifying the learning needs of my children. These needs will direct my planning.

Where do we go from here?

I have just reviewed my class writing samples based on the story Lazy Ozzie. There are a number of teaching needs that appear to be consistent across my grade. These teaching needs will direct my next fortnight’s whole class focus segments, where key learning needs are explicitly taught. Other learning needs will be taught to small groups of children needing extension or groups needing to revisit simple key skills and concepts. I also spend part of each writing session roving and working with individual students ‘at their point of need’. A number of my identified needs will be addressed during reading activities.

The Learning Needs:

Conventions of Spelling

  • Frequently occurring patterns of letters such as ‘ing’, ‘ow’, ‘ou’, ‘er’
  • Using more complex phonic conventions to spell words e.g. words that have the same sound pattern.
  • Looking at words with particular sounds e.g  farm, off, photo
  • Introduce common contractions- his, he’s, did not, didn’t  etc…
  • Review consonant diagraphs – ‘tr’, ‘ck’, ‘th’, ‘sh’
  • Ck Rule- Use a ‘ck’ when it follows a short sound of the vowels e.g. duck
  • Magic ‘e’ -When you have a word like mice the ‘e’ makes the word say its second sound e.g. cage
  • Ed & ing- If the last three letters of the base word are consonant-vowel-consonant double the last consonant before you add an ending that begins with a vowel e.g. swimming

 Writing Strategies

  • Continue to have students read back writing  ‘at the time of writing’ and at a later date
  • Checking writing for correct letter formation, spaces between words, use of full stops
  • Using commas, e.g. on the horse, on the cow – and lists
  • Reading writing to others  and reading back to self to make sure their writing makes sense
  • Checking spelling to make sure known sight words are correct
  • Continue using a simple plan – thinking about what I want to write, clearly defining a topic, adding detail to a topic, understanding concept of first draft, sequencing ideas to make sure they have a beginning, body and end using the ‘hamburger model’.

 Ideas Communicated in Writing

  • Expressing an opinion
  • Using high frequency words relevant to the topic – vocabulary building
  • Using a dictionary, creating personal dictionaries for our Inquiry topic
  • Identifying the main idea and subordinate ideas in texts.
  • Writing multiple sentences that relate to a chosen topic – Inquiry topic


I’ve asked Angela to look at my identified teaching and learning needs and add anything she thinks I have missed and there will be many. I’m always looking for feedback as I see myself as a learner and I often think I’m missing something obvious. I’d love to work with a coach.

Cheers Nina


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4 responses to “Using my student’s writing to inform teaching and learning. Where do we go from here?

  1. We’re doing a great deal with the 6+1 Traits of writing here in WNY. Do you use this model at all, Nina? When we examine student writing, it is often through this lens as well. This seems to help teachers identify specific elements of writer’s craft that they can begin defining, modeling, and practicing with students. I so appreciate your analysis here–this is precisely the sort of work I’m often called upon to help teachers do. Having a cyber-example is wonderful!!

    • averil2

      Hi Angela,
      No, we don’t use the 6+1 model and I’m not familiar with it at all. I’ll be heading to your blog and the net to find out more. We use the VELS (Victorian Essential Learning Standards) and progression points to assess student writing. I tend to identify common learning needs of groups of children or across the grade. Having said that, I also look at individual students as well and what I need to do to move them on. It would be great to have a tool to do this.
      Many of my Preps are writing above the expected level, so I have to keep referring to our standards and indicators. I work from the ‘what they know and can do’ philosophy. I’m always looking for evidence in their writing samples that displays growth. It’s very different to looking for what they can’t do’. I hope you understand that statement as I see the two as very different. We assess ‘for learning’, ‘as learning’ and ‘of learning’. Do you do this?
      When I’m assessing I have to make a ‘global assessment’ of the student based on learning standards, progression indicators, observations and moderation of writing samples which are housed in a student portfolio. The portfolio is used in our ‘three way conferences’ so the students have to articulate their learning to their parents. They’re starting to reflect upon their learning and as they move through the school this will grow. Moderation is always up to interpretation, as teacher judgement plays a big part. It can get tricky. Thanks do much for the comment. It’s got me thinking. This is an area I need to develop further.
      Cheers Nina

  2. averil2

    Thanks for the comment. Moderating writing is something I try to do with my team as often as possible. However, this can be neglected because we’re so time poor. But just 5 minutes looking at each other’s writing samples can make such a difference. Having two or three sets of eyes is better than one. Sharing and discussing makes a huge difference. Looking forward to your ideas. I’m sure I’ve missed something! Cheers Nina

  3. Nina! This is a great example of how we can use student writing samples to inform our practice. Doing this on a blog and opening it up to further perspective is a unique approach and one that could provide you far wider perspective. What a great idea! I have to scoot out to work right now, but know that I’ll be back later this afternoon to think on this. Going to share what you are doing here with others too. Compliments much of what I am doing here in WNY right now : ))

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