Do you ever get sick of kids asking “How long does this have to be?” or parents telling you how great their child’s writing is because they “used such great handwriting”? Overall as a teacher (and as a person) I look for function over form, and tell my students that while I want them to have significant detail and how long shouldn’t matter. If they have significant details, they will automatically have good length to their stories. I prefer a story makes sense, has a good details and flow to it, but has spelling or grammar mistakes over a perfectly presented story that tells me nothing or uses the same boring words used over and over. A few weeks ago, I was talking about this with my friend, Courtney Nassar, about this and she pulled a classic example out of her Year 2 (1st grade) writing pile. Here it is:
On the left is a story with multiple spelling and handwriting issues. However, if you read the words, it tells a quality story with action and dialogue. “Don’t press the blue button.” “She was in the precipice.” On the right is a story that has close to perfect spelling and handwriting, but goes no where.
When talking to the kids, I always tell them that great handwriting, spelling and grammar are the icing on the cake, but that you need the eggs, flour, butter, sugar and baking powder to make an actual cake, and that is where you characters, plot, dialogue, details and suspense come in. What analogy do you use with kids (or parents) to help them understand the difference between form and function in writing?