Writing in Bits and Pieces

In our book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers Through Deep Comprehension, all of the lessons encourage writing in bits & pieces. Moira and I also encourage bits & pieces of writing during therapy sessions with our students. Learning to write fluidly and automatically has to start somewhere—starting the process in little bits & pieces is best for new writers as well as those who struggle with writing.

So what do we mean by bits & pieces of writing? When we engage in writing our thoughts use smaller phrases and sentences, I call this writing bits & pieces. Bits & pieces encourages kids to write because it's not complete paragraphs or papers. Children who fear writing, or struggle with reading and writing, are better able to engage if they do it in small amounts.

Seeing their ideas written on paper helps children to validate their private internal conversations. Writing activities, written in bits & pieces, help readers to identify their thoughts as "worthy" of further discussion—in both conversation and in additional writing.

Black and white watercolor of tress on the shore of a river

In her book, You Just Don't Understand, Deborah Tannen suggests that males in particular tend to disregard fleeting thoughts as not worth sharing. I find that helping all children capture their fleeting thoughts is key to engaging in not only deep comprehension, but also original writing.

The level of simplicity or writing challenge may depend on the literature you select. It may depend on the topic or activity. Or it may depend on each child's particular strengths and interests. Learning to capture thoughts and dig deep into written expression is not a simple skill. It is a skill that takes years to develop and master, as young minds grow in abstract thinking and life experiences. Like us, our children achieve mastery (in all areas of life) in bits & pieces.

Lessons that utilize bits & pieces of writing are a means to explore deep meaning, comprehension, and expression. Each chapter in our book Trees in the Forest sneaks bits & pieces of writing into a student's day as a means of strengthening expressive writing. Modify and repeat the bits & pieces lessons throughout the year and for years to come. Yes, these strategies can be repeated for years, with increasingly complex text based on your student's reading level. Engage in deep comprehension and writing in your own life—and for a lifetime.

Many children who struggle with writing (and let's face it, we all struggle with writing on some level) will appreciate using bits & pieces to help them explore their skills in stages. You'll find our book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension, as well as other products that engage students in bits & pieces of writing in our Shop.

~ Rita

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