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Maddie's Story: Assessing Maddie's Writing

Maddie's Story - Pioneer Valley BooksI am continuing to think about how much longer Maddie will need to be tutored and what I need to focus on to ensure that she is in a solid position to benefit from classroom literacy instruction.

In this posting I will take a closer look at Maddie’s writing.

When I began working with Maddie in late December, there was a very limited number of words she could write. She was good at hearing sounds in words, especially consonant sounds, but she needed help hearing harder sounds like vowels and blends. She has always had stories to tell and it was easy for her to come up with topics to write about.

I immediately began to address the following:

• Reversals of letters (b/d, c/e

• Appropriate use of upper- and lower-case letters

• Hearing more complex sounds in words

• Building a core of words she could quickly and easily spell

• Learning how to use words she knows to spell new words

Teaching Maddie to write has been more challenging than teaching her reading. Because the teaching has been done using Skype, I have struggled with both seeing what she was doing and intervening and supporting her when she needed it. Still, I think she has made great progress. Here is a story she just wrote. She composed the short story quickly with very little help from me.

All of the common sight words were written quickly and easily. She was able to hear and record sounds in library, new, and circus. With a reminder, she was able to change the e at the end of library to y. The spelling patterns in new and circus are difficult. At this point in her progress, I think her using k for c and the a for u in circus is just fine. I’m not sure why she recorded the ew sound as ee for the word new. I am pleased at the lack of reversals. She has not completely mastered this, but she is doing much better. I think she used the upper-case B in book because she still struggles with b/d and uses that as an avoidance strategy. The spacing and size of the letters all look fine. She began with an upper-case letter and ended the story with a period. She should have made It was a circus (book?) a separate sentence, but that is not surprising.

I think Maddie does not need ongoing tutoring in writing any longer and is ready to benefit from classroom writing instruction alone. What do you think?

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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