Friday, October 21, 2016

Writing in Bits and Pieces

In my upcoming book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers Through Deep Comprehension, all of the lessons encourage writing in “bits and pieces.” Moira and I also encourage Bits and Pieces writing during therapy sessions with our students. Learning to write fluidly and automatically has to start somewhere--starting the process in little Bits and Pieces is best for new or struggling writers.

So what is Bits and Pieces writing? When we engage in writing our thoughts using smaller phrases and sentences, I call this writing “bits and pieces.” Bits and Pieces writing encourages kids to write because it’s not complete paragraphs or papers. Children who fear writing, or struggle with reading and writing, are better able to engage if they do it in Bits and Pieces.

Seeing their ideas written on paper helps children to validate their private internal conversations. Writing activities, written in Bits and Pieces, helps readers to identify their thoughts as “worthy” of further discussion--in both conversation and in additional writing.


In her book, You Just Don’t Understand, Deborah Tannen suggests that males in particular tend to disregard fleeting thoughts as not worth sharing. I find that helping all children capture their fleeting thoughts is key to engaging in not only deep comprehension, but also original writing.

The level of simplicity or writing challenge may depend on the literature you select. It may depend on the topic or activity. Or it may depend on each child’s particular strengths and interests. Learning to capture thoughts and dig deep into written expression is not a simple skill. It is a skill that takes years to develop and master, as young minds grow in abstract thinking and life experiences. Like us, our children achieve mastery (in all areas of life) in Bits and Pieces.

Lessons that utilize Bits and Pieces writing are a means to explore deep meaning, comprehension, and expression. Each chapter in my book sneaks Bits and Pieces of writing into a student’s day as a means of strengthening expressive writing. Modify and repeat the Bits and Pieces  lessons throughout the year and for years to come. Engage in deep comprehension and writing in our own life--and for a lifetime.

Many children who struggle with writing (and let’s face it, we all struggle with writing on some level) will appreciate using Bits and Pieces to help them explore their skills in stages.

~Rita

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