22 January 2008

Writing Paragraphs

Tiffany was supposed to write a two paragraph report for her literature class today. Every time she sees the word 'paragraph' she puts up a brick wall where she just freezes up. Now this is third grade curriculum here. The assignment doesn't just say "write two paragraphs," it describes in detail what the child should write, almost sentence for sentence. Tiffany has gotten pretty good at writing complete sentence answers for a question, so it has baffled me as to why writing a paragraph seems such an insurmountable task for her. I think I figured it out today. She doesn't know how to break the assignment down into parts. She sees "do this and this and describe this and answer that" instead of doing it a part at a time. So, I worked with her a little while to use a separate piece of paper and write numbered questions she needs to answer with a sentence to end up with a paragraph. Then she can answer the question out loud to form a complete thought before writing it in the paragraph. We also talked about brainstorming for ideas. I could see she could grasp the concept much better this way and was able to complete the assignment. Of course the next step is getting her to do it all on her own. I think, though, after a couple times, it will all be old hat to her.

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