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Feedback on 3rd grade writing

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I know the spelling is horrendous, she gets it from me. I've used a couple different spelling programs with her but have recently taken a break from all formal spelling because if formal spelling didn't help me, why waste her time on it? I have learned to spell using spell-checker on my computer. (I'm open to feedback on whether this is the wrong direction to go) Her handwriting is bad and she complains that her hand hurts when she writes for very long so I suspect this is a deeper issue. We are working on typing but she prefers to write reports and assignments by hand still.


She's 8 years old and in 3rd grade. I would love to know that I'm on the right track with her writing. Her assignment was to read an information sheet on Alligators and Crocodiles and write me a report. No other directions or expectations were given. This is her unedited first draft. 




Alligaters are reptiles. they are coldblooded, and lay eggs. Alligaters live in china, and the US. the ones in the us live in florida and louisiana. the largest Alligater is 19 feet long.


crocodiles also are reptiles. they live in Asia, America, Africa and Australia. they live in salt water and fresh. the largest crokodile is 28 feet long. baby crokodiles hide in there mothers mouth to Get awey from there enameis. Some crokodiles are on the endanedg list. 


Alligaters and crakidiles are allike in many ways. they both eat: fish, deer, frogs, brird and bufilo. they can even hold there breath for an hour.



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Here's what I like:


She arranged the paragraphs by topic in a way that made sense to her:


I. Introducing the animal, giving a setting

II. Interesting facts about the animal

III. Comparing the animal to a similar animal


That is very good to have done on her own! It's OK that the sorting is kind of flawed for now. But to keep her motivated to write, I would give her some parameters for paragraph topics next time. I know you said that handwriting hurts her hand, and spelling is a challenge, but it seems to me that she might enjoy the "composing" part of writing? If so, you could work on this job of planning paragraphs together. Find topics about which more than a sentence might be said. Work on the definition of a paragraph, checking to see if all of the sentences are about that one topic. (You could scribe for her, part of the time, to give her muscles a break while you're finding out why it hurts to write.)


For spelling, if you have chosen to use tools to accommodate spelling challenges, are you modeling the use of those tools? Does she see you looking up words for yourself, as just part of "what we do?" Are you looking at the red squiggly lines under the words in the word processing program together, and then looking up the flagged words in the dictionary to double check? If you want to try this approach, explain to her that it's what you do, too, and be friendly and light-hearted about looking up the words. Do not make this tedious; only choose a few words per piece to tackle. Just tell her the rest. She'll need to build endurance toward looking up ALL the words.


Concerning punctuation: What are you using to learn punctuation rules? Whatever you're using, you could remind her of one or two things at a time, before she writes. Maybe start with capitalizing all of the sentences. Write a reminder on the whiteboard, and add a checkbox for her to mark when she's checked that they're all capitalized. And then when checking the paper, talk about how place names are capitalized, too, and correct those together. Again, keep it small. Just one or two things to remember, as she's building skills. And then don't correct ALL the other things! Tackle those another day. Keep writing fun and as easy as possible, while still making progress.


I hope some of these tips are helpful! I enjoyed her essay very much. I felt that she was interested in her topic, which made for interesting reading.



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Thanks for your feedback! We have been working on paragraphs this year, so far we have learned to group sentences together by topic and we just finished learning about topic sentences. I was pleased at least with those two things even if the paragraphs themselves were a bit disorganized.


She does enjoy the composing part of writing - the mechanics trip her up but she loves "writing reports" especially so I tend to do a lot of our writing instruction across the curriculum. 


For punctuation and editing, I usually have her write the rough draft without reminders so she can focus on what to write, then I guide her as she edits - I tend to focus on the big things, well, capitalization mainly. She can tell you the rules but they tend to escape her when she is writing. I don't know when those will translate. Her spelling drives me batty - she can be looking at the words, like Alligator today, and write it wrong every time! She is not yet wanting to spell better, and only wishes for better handwriting so she doesn't have to rewrite anything. When she is tasked with a handwriting assignment, it takes her a long time but her handwriting is good.


I suppose that's why I wanted feedback - since I do a lot of the writing instruction through guided discussion/across the curriculum, I wanted to make sure she was writing at an appropriate level for her age.

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