When you’re young, you’re told many stories about the magic of words. But the reality is, writing is a lot of hard work, and it takes a lot of practice to get good at it. That’s what first-graders around the country are learning this year as part of the How to Write series launched by the Scholastic publishing group. Launching a year-long literacy initiative, the series teaches first-graders to write effectively and independently.
The books in the series, which are available in both print and digital formats, were co-created by educator and author John Rogers and illustrator and writer Ethan Ellsworth. Rogers and Ellsworth worked with Scholastic to develop a curriculum that would engage students while also helping them build essential writing skills.
Together, the pair developed three elementary school books that explore various aspects of the craft of writing. The How to Write books teach children that writing is an exercise in thinking and that there are many different ways to solve a problem.
- How to Write: First-graders Explore the Craft of Writing
- How to Write Well: First-graders Discover Essay Writing
- How to Write a Perfect Essay: First-graders Discover Research Skills
With a little help from their teachers, children explore different aspects of writing such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling through activities that engage them while also teaching them new things. For example, in the book How to Write Well, students practice writing letters and solving problems. They also practice identifying a good idea and explaining it to others in different ways using different words and phrases. These activities help build vocabulary as students practice using words correctly as well as improve their spelling and grammar skills.
One book in the series, How to Write a Perfect Essay, encourages students to practice searching for information as well as cite or credit the sources of their information in their essays. Students explore topics like forensics, court systems, and criminal procedures while practicing writing about an argument or a dispute in an objective and impartial manner. Through these books, students learn to be critical thinkers who can synthesize and evaluate information and ideas effectively. This book series has been praised for its effective use of real-world examples, its emphasis on quality over quantity, and its integration of art, literacy, and curriculum.
Last year, Congress passed legislation that gives all first-graders in all public schools a one-time bonus of $500 and provided funding for a laptop or tablet computer for each student. This bonus and technology were intended to make a difference in students’ lives, and in some communities, it has.
For instance, one classroom in Chicago that received a $500 bonus and one device per student started the year with 25% more students reading comfortably than they had the year before. Thanks to this legislation, more children are discovering the joy of reading and are becoming better readers. But in order to get the most out of these one-time gifts, schools must continue to invest in literacy. That’s why now, more than ever, students need to be taught how to become independent, confident, and effective writers.
A Perfect Place To Begin
When you’re teaching writing to young students, choose your books wisely. The first-grade curriculum from Scholastic is a perfect place to begin your journey into teaching writing. Not only does it cover the basics of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but it also includes activities that engage the students while teaching them new things. When your students are young, they’re constantly exploring new things, so it’s important to keep the learning relevant and engaging.
For instance, one of the activities in the first-grade curriculum is a scavenger hunt. Students are given a list of words along with their definitions. Then, they have to search for matching words in a word bank or dictionary. As they search, they also have to use the defined words in their writing. This activity helps teach them how to find the right words for the right meaning and how to use these words effectively in their writing.
Writing is considered a complex skill that takes a lot of practice to become good at. But despite this, students still need guidance when it comes to writing. That’s why in the coming years, students need to continue to develop these skills so they can become good writers.
These books can help young students begin their writing journey effectively by providing them with the basics of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. They can also help students practice these skills while becoming more independent and confident writers. So while learning to be independent and confident may mean getting good grades in school, it can also mean getting a job that allows them to contribute to society.