Writing is a process. Nevertheless, many young learners believe the first write is the end all, that once their last word is written, the work is complete. Counter this notion by emphasizing that they are learning to become writing pros. Because of that, they must revisit and edit their work until they produce a polished, finished product. A few moans and groans may ensue. Encourage students to forge ahead, letting them know they are developing sophisticated writing skills that can be used throughout their elementary school years all the way through college. Doing so proves motivational.
Additionally, when encouraging students to create autobiographic sketches, make every attempt not to mar trust, nor squelch student creativity. In some instances, however, you will find that students dig deep. As a result, they may create revealing memoirs that include incidents of neglect or abuse. Such information can result in the need to contact the school psychologist and/or DCF (the Department of Children and Family Services). Should this occur, follow through with school policy and/or mandated reporting procedures where required.
(I encountered such a situation. A student who had been sexually molested felt safe enough in our classroom environment to write an intensely revealing autobiographic snapshot. The child shared it with me and subsequently asked if she could share it with her classmates. Because of its graphic content, I diplomatically convinced the youngster to use it instead as a healing tool, to keep or discard it to help overcome the pain from that past experience. She decided to keep her literary creation in a special, private place and subsequently took it home to her parent. The child willingly created another equally well–written memoir to share with classmates. Before the school day had ended, I took appropriate steps to contact the child's parent, school social worker support staff, and administrators. In this instance, the exercise and the way it was addressed proved beneficial: follow–up communication had been executed in the best interest of the child and proved therapeutic. Such positive results may not always occur. Nevertheless, from the onset, establish writing and read–aloud–sharing parameters such that students have the option to decline sharing extremely sensitive matters. Additionally, be certain to distribute announcement letters so that parents and/or guardians are aware of the overall assignment and writing objectives.)