The Writing Progression in the First Grade

First graders learn to write complete sentences.
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Most first graders learn to write simple sentences and beginner paragraphs, so they must learn how to express their thoughts constructively. By learning to brainstorm ideas and structure them into a logical format, such as introduction, body and conclusion, they develop writing skills that will help them throughout elementary school. Parents shouldn't worry too much if their first grader's writings include poor grammar, punctuation or spelling because they have ample time to hone those skills over the next few years.

1 Parts of Speech

First-grade students need to learn the basic components that make up a simple sentence, such as verbs and nouns. They need to know that a complete sentence needs a subject and some form of action. First grade is usually too young to learn the significance of helping verbs and passive verbs, so it's OK to just tell them that words -- such as is, are, was, were, will be, have, has, hasn't, won't and can't -- are verbs, too. As the year progresses, students can learn other parts of speech, such as adjectives and adverbs, if their writing skills are up to par.

2 Punctuation

Students can learn to express themselves by using punctuation to stress their ideas and further develop topics. A basic understanding of periods, question marks, exclamation marks and quotation marks will help them build story plots and characters, as well as write book reports and opinion papers. The placement and usage of commas is complicated, so a few specific uses -- such as dates, cities and states and before quotations -- is sufficient. First graders might forget to use punctuation, or use it improperly, but it's important not to be too critical so you don't discourage writing altogether.

3 Opinion and Informative Writings

As soon as first graders learn to create structured sentences, they can begin to write paragraphs and papers. The Common Core State Standards Initiative encourages first graders to learn to write opinion, narrative and informative papers. A student might choose a topic of interest and express why she likes the topic, enjoys the subject or opposes the idea. For example, she might write about why she likes summer camp, hates the dark or wants to be a doctor when she grows up. First graders should also write informative papers about topics that have facts to back them up, such as why bears hibernate or why astronauts need space suits. Fictional narratives encourage creativity and help first graders develop a logical sequence of events. They should also learn how to provide a sense of closure at the end of their writings.

4 Writing Strategies

Once first graders learn basic writing skills and know how to express themselves with complete thoughts, they can learn important writing strategies, such as pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing, according to Pre-writing allows them to brainstorm individual or group writing assignments and organize their ideas. Drafting, revising and editing helps them understand that original writings usually need revisions to create more structure and correct mistakes. In the final publishing stage, first graders learn to use their best handwriting skills and illustrate their ideas with pictures, so they can share their masterpieces with friends and family.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.