Writing Process

Writing Process

Prewriting / Brainstorming
Responding / Revising

Writing every day?
“When a teacher asks, ‘I can only teach writing one day a week. What kind of program should I have?’ the response is, ‘Don’t teach it at all. You will encourage poor habits in your students and they will only learn to dislike writing.’” Donald Graves - A Fresh Look at Writing

Readers need to read every day; pitchers need to pitch every day. If we want our students to become confident natural writers, writing needs to take place every day.

Everyday Writing Opportunities
Five minute write What’s on your mind?
Thank you notes for visitors
New playground rules
Responses to literature, movies
Complaint letters

Feedback (Reader response)
Writing needs to be shared
Model how to respond appropriately to writing
Allow writers to share work often
Allow readers to ask questions
Share your writing
Teachers write in class not to impress children with their superior skills, but to show that even adults often have better ideas the second time around… If Dr. Seuss writes one thousand pages to produce a sixty page book, then surely it’s all right if a rank beginner in the first grade has to scratch something out.
–Donald Graves and Virginia Stuart

Conference with writers frequently.
Respond first as a reader.
Ask questions (make suggestions) – don’t command.
Approach one or two teachable ideas in each piece (don’t be too ambitious!)
Allow writer to maintain ownership.
Help the WRITER - not the WRITING!

Student editing
Do NOT spend precious writing time editing everything your students write. Your editing skills will soar, but what they learn is minimal. Remember, our goal is not to fill the world with perfect pieces of writing, but to fill the world with skillful writers and editors.
Let them PRACTICE editing with actual pieces of writing (not their own). These skills mean nothing in isolation. It’s very difficult to find errors in one’s own work.
Use editor’s symbols.
Use editing language.
Ask students to think about why we edit.
Use environmental print as much as possible.
Practice daily.
Do not ask students to edit each other’s work.
As a society, we allow children to speak by trial and error. But when it comes to reading and writing, we expect them to do it right the first time.
Let the students do their own editing as far as they are capable.
When they need help, let them initiate the request.
Hold realistically high expectations for what they can self-edit.
Give credit to the person who edits the remainder of the piece.

6+1 Writing Traits
Word Choice
Sentence Fluency

Heart of the message
Small topic; big writing
Juicy, original details
Original viewpoint on the subject
Everything ties together

Internal structure of writing Opening grabs readers’ attention
Logical sequence of events
Satisfying ending
Transitions Stays focused on main idea
Builds sense of anticipation in reader

Personality Fingerprints on the page
Writer is obviously personally engaged with the topic.
Brings writing to life

Textual traditions Mechanics Dealt with during editing!

Word Choice
Rich, colorful, precise language
Strong verbs Usage of everyday vocabulary in a fresh unexpected way

Sentence Fluency
Rhythm and flow of writing Sentences vary in length and type
Beginnings of sentences vary
No awkward word patterns
Makes writing fun to read aloud.

+1 Recently added Look of the published piece
How the message is “exhibited” on paper
Invites readers to begin reading
Attracts readers’ attention

Where to go from here?
Think of a writing activity you have enjoyed and felt good about.
What skills were needed?
What questions were posed?
What writers’ problems were solved?
Not just when pencils were in hands, but also when they were thinking like writers.
Find and store good stuff.
Keep an eye open for text materials that illustrate qualities of the traits.
Collect as many examples as you can and drop these examples in files by trait name for use later.
Browse through student papers
Find a STRONG and a NEEDS WORK example for each trait you want to teach.
File these with your other examples.

Let them see your joy, excitement, anticipation, agony at being interrupted, and all the emotions reading effects.
Many children have never experienced that magic for themselves. Read to students every day, at every age, and in every class. It's an essential part of becoming a good writer.

Build student writing files
Create a place where all writing is kept.
Discourage students from ever throwing away writing.
Shows improvement.
Allows reflection.

Identify favorite books
Practice reading passages aloud. You'd be amazed at how much more you like the piece yourself when you hear the words come alive.
Stop during the reading and ask kids to focus on a specific trait.
Listen to other authors read (tapes, CDs, etc.).
Ex: Mem Fox's cassette tape of many of her picture books.

Review old favorite lessons and activities
Which traits do these lessons reinforce?
Make new files and drop in lessons or ideas to sock away for use later

Create editing lessons on the word processor
Use a real piece of writing from your daily writing activities and put it on computer.
Have students look at one convention at a time instead of all at once like in DOL.
Allows students to master one piece of conventions puzzle at a time.

Build a writing community
Ensure that writing time is a thoughtful, non threatening time
Create a climate where opinions are valued Establish a regular routine which includes writing for lots and lots of purposes
Model how hard it is to write, and how scary it can be to share
Allow students the freedom to begin all over again
Grade only what's important
Have fun!