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Analyze Student Writing with Post It Notes

If you have been following my blog for any time at all, you know that I believe in RtI.  And if you believe in RtI, then it follows that you must believe in information like data driving your instruction.  So I guess I am crazy for data...or maybe I am just crazy!  :)  

But I do think that the anecdotal records we keep and all the data we collect needs to be for a reason.  Not just something we do because we are supposed to, right?  I don't want the things I do in my classroom to be done for no reason.  I need it to be real and I need it to be efficient.

 I want to keep a close eye on my students (struggling readers), getting in there in the trenches with them while they read and write. I like to dive in a little deeper to what my students are doing or getting confused with and then I can use that information to drive the instruction that my students receive next.

Reading and writing are reciprocal processes- one feeds the other so to speak.  We can tell a lot about what is happening with a student's reading and writing by looking at what they are doing in the other process.  

It is a good idea to take your reading journals or other piece of writing and analyze it to see what your students are missing or getting confused.  You can then use this information to correct confusions or to take the students to the next step with their learning.

This student wrote about a snowman coming to life after we did a unit on Snowmen at Night.  As you can see, they struggled with long vowel sounds in the middle of words (life, games, snow), the final d sound in Candy Land, and left out periods.  

This is from a student with huge speech issues- she used to speak using only the medial sounds.  iii ooo was flip flops!  Amazing progress from her, but as you can see, she is still having trouble with ending sounds.  As well as bossy r vowels, silent e words, etc...

I like to make it easy and efficient by just using Post It notes to jot down what I see.  Pretty soon I see a pattern going on with my students.  Some of the patterns will be wide spread enough that I will use that for a whole group lesson.  Then some of the things I see going on will be for individual conferencing lessons.  I only showed two pictures, but the overall picture when I looked at all of their writing (these are struggling first graders) is that I need to do some more lessons on the silent e like Making Words and Word Sorting.  

Several of their writing samples showed me that they are STILL forgetting to use beginning of the sentence capital letters and periods.  Oh my!  So to correct that we will have some lessons where we will  take a look at some favorite authors of ours and do some looking around in their texts and how they use capitalization and punctuation.   I will want them to notice where the author used these skills and why they used them.  Then we will be be like our favorite authors and do what they do by applying those skills in OUR writing.  :)


  1. Hi Lori,

    I just love this post. Our grade level is focusing on writing this year {started Common Core Standards in the area}, and we spend many of our grade level meetings looking at student writing and discussing strategies to meet student needs. You have given me some great ideas. You sound like a wonderful teacher. Thanks so much for sharing.

    First Grade Schoolhouse

  2. Their writing is definitely a window into what they know or don't know about reading. It's certainly a reliable and authentic piece of data too. I like the way you use it to drive instruction. I certainly need that reminder to pay more attention!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  3. This was a great post!!! Our goal next year is to have every grade-level collaboration focus on data (at least for part of it). I think between writing samples and running records, teachers have amazing data to work with :) I'm working on a protocol to help teachers in my building identify patterns so they can guide their instruction.

    Literacy Without Worksheets

  4. I totally agree that they are reciprocal. Evre since we adopted Lucy Caulkins, I have noticed I have better writers and readers. It's so important to have a strong lesson in both and to use the data you get from those lessons.

    Sprinkles to Kindergarten

  5. Love this post, Lori. You always give me good stuff to think about.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. I love that you use your writing to guide your reading instruction and vice versa. I also love that you get in with your students, looking at their reading journals and writing to guide your instruction. I also love that you use your favorite authors to guide your writing. I bet you are an amazing teacher. :)

  7. Mona, thank you so much for the wonderfully kind words! That is so nice of you. :) I have been teaching reading and writing for a long time now and I feel like it is an ever evolving and changing field that I am constantly trying to learn more about.

  8. Tammy, you always have positive and encouraging words for me! Thank you for always thinking that I have something worth posting. :)

  9. Thank you so much, Bridget! Your idea about helping your teachers identify patterns sounds great. Can't wait to hear about it!!

  10. Thanks Erica! Reading and writing do drive each other. I like Lucy Calkins too. Congrats on growing better readers and writers!

  11. That is so nice of you, Barbara! Thank you for that! Even after all these years, there is still something to learn and do better at in reading and writing. :)

  12. Antoinette, thank you so much for your kindness! We read and write and read and write! The two processes definitely drive each other. :)

  13. I am in teaching line since 35 years. For the last 26 years I am conducting my own nursery school.I got a high impression from the parents for the quality.I don't have much practice in computer work. Still I learn to go through it to get more details about nursery school to study more about the study material etc.Even I think of to take teacher's training from abroad.Pl inform me about it.


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