2nd grade ‘superstars’ practice critiquing each other’s writing

  • Joanne Davidson reads her story, “Grammy’s Magical Umbrella,” to Christine Hoegen’s second-graders at Royalston Community School. Contributed photo

  • Second-graders in Christine Hoegen's class at Royalston Community School read to one another. Front, left to right: Ethan Hastbacka of Royalston; Lucas Maroni of Athol. Back, left: Danny Judges of Royalston. Center: Ben Wolski of Royalston; right: Dallas Newton of Royalston. Contributed photo

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 7/7/2022 1:51:58 PM
Modified: 7/7/2022 1:49:21 PM

The second graders at Royalston Community School have been learning about different types of writing this past year. During the month of May, the children learned about factual writing and sharing their opinions about their own writing and about their classmates’ stories.

Teacher Christine Hoegen emphasized that when sharing their opinions, they must be careful as to not hurt someone’s feelings by being too critical. The children had an instruction sheet that explained “Writing Glows” that were positive reasons why they liked the story that had been written and a sheet explaining “Writing Grows” which explained how their classmate could improve their story.

Hoegen emphasized that each person was to be made to feel special, encouraging the feeling of belongingness. The second grade classroom had pictures of each child as a superhero on the bulletin boards. Ms. Hoegen included all of the students in the discussions. She made me feel as though I was special and part of the class by the way she introduced me as a, “special new friend.” Each child introduced themselves to me.

The students reviewed the previous day’s lesson about opinion writing by explaining to me what they had learned about the different parts of opinion writing. They told me that their writing had to have a strong introduction; they had to use four reasons that supported their opinions and had to use linking words to support their points of view. The children had written a story about what their favorite animals were, and had to give feed- back, substantiating the reasons why that animal was their favorite.

Hoegen explained how orators in the early 1900s often stood on a soap box when they were giving a speech so that they could be seen by their audience, and how the extra height helped them to project their voices so that they could be heard. Each student stood on a soap box and spoke into a microphone which was connected to a karaoke machine and read their favorite animal story. Classmates gave their opinions about the speaker’s story and how the student’s writing “glowed” by explaining the part that they had enjoyed, what the writing had taught them, why they had found the speech interesting and what part they agreed with. The children also had the opportunity to share how the speaker could “grow their writing” by using transitional words, or by being more explicit about some of the details of their animal.

Hoegen invited me to read a story to the class that I had written, “Grammy’s Magical Umbrella.” She used this story to pivot into another phase of the lesson. She had each student perform two tasks. The first task was to write me a thank you note for visiting their class and reading to them. The second task was to write either a “Writing Glow” or a “Writing Grow” about my story. They said they really enjoyed the story and asked for me to come back another day to read them one of my other stories that I have written.

Hoegen’s special engagement with the children is truly a gift to her second grade class. I can’t wait to be invited to read another story that I have written, “The Vacation Adventures of Sammy and Susie Seagull.”

Joanne Davidson is the newsletter developer for Athol Royalston Regional School District.

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