A grade one room I am working in, has some very struggling writers. We have noticed that we have to scaffold more and more for this small group.

The following process really helped them move forward.

We had been working on writing about animal body parts and trying to use descriptive writing. We realized our group didn’t even understand what the parts were. We had been modeling with the mentor text Horns  by Rebecca Rissman


We quickly realized that it was too hard for this small group. I went back to an old stand by-

I Like Hats. By Blair Drawson.

I Like hats

After reading the story , we talked about what the author did. I pointed out the repeating phrase I like… but pointed out that each ending was different. We talked about capitals and periods and how the author helped us to understand the story through repetition and art.

I showed the students how I tried to write about animals with humps just like we had been talking about in science. I ended my writing using a line from Horns which they found very funny-“Do you have horns? No, you do not!” became “”Do you have a hump? No, you do not!”

We read my writing several times. I then told them that I wanted them to write a similar piece but about animals with  hooves. We had to discuss hooves again. I was surprised to notice that in-spite of showing many photos of hooves the children thought birds had hooves and so did dogs. We looked at more pictures and books. We talked about how hooves helped animals. We made a mind map about hooves.Then we tried a very scaffolded piece. Here is some of their writing:

Next we moved onto the topic of animal tails. This was less scaffolded and they had to write a bit more.

Finally the children chose another animal body part. There was a great deal of laughter as they wrote and illustrated their pages. They shared their reading with each other.

Thank goodness for published authors who have great mentor text to help us with writing!!