Basically, at the end of each day right before we pack up, we take 5 minutes (sometimes a little more) and while I do some end of the day housekeeping like passing out prize tickets, each kid writes at least one sentence about their day (I teach 2nd grade). Later in the year I make them write two but we start at one! The very first day and for about a week -to a week and a half into the school year we brainstorm 3 sentences together and I write them down. Then kids can either copy one that they like or write their own.
The students LOVE to read their sentences out loud which I was not expecting at first but without fail, every year, almost every single student will volunteer to read theirs. So after the first week or week and a half, kids have heard lots of ideas for sentences and I stop taking suggestions and writing on the board. It is up to them to write their own. Then each Friday, they take it home. I find it a good way to communicate with parents about what is going on at school! Also, both the parents and I can learn some interesting things about the child's writing - does he write as neatly and with as much care on this , which will not be turned in? Does he skip all capital letters and punctuation because he thinks it does not count? Is he carrying over the spelling patterns we worked on into his writing? One little paper can do a lot! Here is a little sample of what it looks like. Click here or on the image to see it over at my blog and snap it up! Thanks!