As promised, Alex’s first paragraph:
There is a stream in the forest at the end of our street. Where the water is shallow it moves fast, but in the deep parts it moves slowly. The water is muddy and has litter in it, but there are still fish there. There is a little bare spot covered with rocks where Colin likes to throw rocks off. My favorite thing to do is sail leaf boats in it.
Here’s her first draft:
She wrote a collection of sentences answering the various questions she’d come up with about the stream, and then I cut the sentences apart and encouraged her to play around with how to arrange them. She kicked up an enormous fight about how much writing the first draft was, and an even bigger fight about copying it over neatly on a separate sheet of paper, in proper paragraph format and with spelling and capitalization errors fixed. “I’M NEVER GOING TO WRITE A PARAGRAPH AGAIN, NEVER!!” I think that maybe the final draft being printed rather than cursive was meant to be a rebellion?
My poor kid. She would never survive public school writing assignments, would she? But this is right where I’d like to see her at the beginning of third grade. It’s a nice little well-organized descriptive paragraph. Her writing sounds natural rather than formulaic. She’s got a good grip on the basic mechanics: spelling, handwriting, punctuation. I don’t think waiting until now to work on original writing has harmed her in the slightest.