When reading Tompkins (2012) and his discussion regarding narrative writing in chapter 8, I realized many things about teaching students writing which forced me to reflect on my practice. Tompkins (2012) discussed the age in which children begin to understand the concept of a story, and how even though this story knowledge is often applied to reading, it also plays a very important role in writing. Because stories have such unique structural elements, it is crucial for children to understand the different parts so they are able to compose stories and begin to be aware of the format of the narrative genre. Of course, the amount of information students are given, and to what detail, is dependent on the students' age. Students in the elementary grades should be taught the importance of sequence and teachers should be aware of the students' ability to retell stories, whereas older students would focus on character development and forming themes.
I think it is important to support students' writing at the level which is developmentally appropriate for them. So many times, teachers expect more from their students than they are capable of or than is necessary at that time. Elementary aged students should be helped to develop their ideas and simply put them into writing, with a beginning focus on organization and structure through lessons during writing workshops. Teachers who feel as though their students' writing isn't very good, is only going to debilitate that student. Students will all write at different paces, but will be modeling after what their teachers show them. Writing collaborative stories as a class and having personal conferences with the students will help them understand and gradually allow them to be more independent in their writing. In addition, helping students form good writing technique will help their literacy skills come full circle; students should become better speakers if they understand sequence well, helping them to orally tell a story in order from beginning to end correctly.
Tompkins (2012) helped me realize how important genre exploration is to students' literacy development and following a specific process is actually what the students need. Students won't always be "good" at writing stories, and not all students will learn or become better writers at the same rate, but it's important for teachers to be aware of their progress and work to help them the best they can. Through conferencing, writing workshops, and close assessment, students should be monitored closely enough to make consistent progress.