Options for Different Writing Abilities

My basic thought: Capture each child at a personalized writing level, and they stay involved and move forward.   Students at the easier levels will improve as they see how other students succeed.


To cover the range from totally dependent to totally independent writers, consider these ideas. I have used them.


  1. Two children of the same ability [Any ability!] work together. Having the same ability actually works because neither child can lean on or dominate the other. As they learn the writing process and how to enrich sentences with a partner, they gain confidence to develop their own work.  Thinking together, they develop the skills to later work alone. (See the related blog ‘Young Writers: Enriching Sentences’ at trudicarterauthor.wordpress.com.)


  1. Purposefully seat children who want to copy from the board where it’s easy to see. This shows them that copying is allowed. Yes, some children may copy everything with no rhyme or reason. They are happy just to be writing! Over time, as they hear other children share, they will also ‘catch’ the writing process. Trust.


  1. Encourage enriching their sentences. Teach them about adding a descriptive word or a phrase. At the end of writing time, ask if anyone has enriched one of their sentences and will share.


  1. Be available to copy a sentence for the child laboring to write. For instance, write the introductory sentence for them, and let them choose, along with the teacher, which sentence they will copy next. This takes a lot of pressure off.


  1. Spelling. As they call out a word, write it on the board. (See blog, ‘Improve That Spelling’)


VIGNETTE.   A fifth grade class was learning techniques to help others improve their writing. The students practiced giving suggestions with a piece the teacher had written.  As time went on, they contributed their own writing. One girl held back. Her success in writing was low.  After watching other children have their work improved by their classmates, she reached that day when her hand waved, and she said, “I want my story on the overhead. I want to hear what I can do to make it better.”  Listening to her classmates’ ideas, finding out how the improvement process worked, she became willing to join in. (See blog Improve Writing with Student Critiquing )


Trust the learning process.

Log Lines. Awesome Introductory Sentences

In five words, what is our book about?

Tell me the log line for our book.

A log line is found describing movies and books. As a summary of entire book in one sentence is makes an immediate connection to the entire story.  A friend said to compare it to speaking to someone while riding an elevator. When asked, “What you do?” you quickly tell what your book is about –  the log line. (If you teach writing, think ‘introductory sentence’. Learning to write log lines for books students have read, transfers well to writing introductory sentences for the book report.)

As I worked on my book’s log line, I found myself  in an analysis mode. My beginning attempt for my book Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends? was  “Melville and Throckmorton learn to get along when they have to help each other  – a single event leads to a broken promise, burnt feathers and fur, and finally to friendship –   the war between dragons and frogs comes to an end when a dragon egg appears.”  Quite a log line, eh?…

My son, the movie goer, explained,  “You need to summarize the essence of the idea behind the story. You’re using too many details.”

I reread my book reviews.  I reread the ‘Hollywood Coverage’ project in which my book was laid out in five paragraphs. What essence?

My website design person chose quotes from the book reviews. “Friendship against all odds.”  “‘An epistolary fantasy.”   “A sweet narrative about dragons and frogs finding peace.”  None of them was a log line.

Perhaps this was it:  “An ancient rhyme of 3000 years is challenged by a dragon egg.”   No names.  No characters. No Great Forest nor Deep Pond. No broken promises nor rescue. Was this my log line? No. Too short.

Having a YouTube made, new ideas emerged as the film editor asked specific questions. The answer to the final question, “Why should someone buy your book?” was “Because this book teaches a child to forgive his enemy by having enough compassion to  forget the past.”

This was it! The quick ‘elevator answer’ I was seeking.  My log line at last.


VIGNETTE. A few days later, I had a meeting in a 30 story business building. I stepped into an elevator next to a young man. We nodded.  Before I could open my mouth, we had zipped up twenty-two floors. As he held the door, I stepped out,  reached into my purse, and handed my fellow traveler a postcard of the book cover with notes on the back, smiled and said, “Share this!”  It wasn’t my  logline….

Ah well. Amazon.com will tell more.


LOG LINE. Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends? is about having the courage to overcome the fear of a bully; and the compassion to forgive and forget the past.