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Writing Process

Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying. John Updike

 

Although no two writers' processes are exactly the same, all writers use some kind of process to organize their thinking and move their writing from idea to draft to finished text.

The stages of the writing process are a framework to help students become better writers by providing them with a model for writing that they can adapt over time and make their own. It is important to remember that the stages of the process are not linear and writers will often move back and forth between stages during the writing process.

 

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Reading and writing are closely linked. 
  • Students need to be writing as often as possible.
  • Not every piece of writing a student produces will become a finished piece. 
  • It is important to find ways to publish some of your students' work so that they have real purposes and audiences for their writing, e.g. on a class blog or website, in a school newspaper, in a class anthology, or as a student-made book.
Writing Process
Prewriting

Prewriting is the incubation stage, where writers are thinking about their ideas for writing. It covers just about everything a writer does before beginning to write.

Find an Idea:

  • draw inspiration from personal experiences, memories, interests, books read and listened to, movies, events, photographs, etc.
  • keep a writer's notebook
  • use writing prompts, photographs, etc. to get started

Build on that Idea:

  • brainstorm individually or with others
  • try a quickwrite or free writing.

Plan and Organize:

  • consider the purpose of the piece, the intended audience and what the reader needs to know about the subject
  • choose a text type that will work for the given purpose and intended audience
  • try some graphic organizers, e.g. sketching, webbing, storyboarding, etc., to connect and organize ideas. 
Drafting

During the drafting stage the writer begins to put ideas down on paper without worrying too much about spelling and writing conventions.

Students should have the chance to:

  • write as often as possible
  • include illustations and drawings if necessary
Getting Feedback

Writers need feedback throughout the writing process.

Teachers can:

  • try to get around to as many students as possible for  quick conferences during writing time
  • encourage students to share pieces of writing with peers
  • teach students how to give and receive feedback appropriate to their age.
Revision

The purpose of revision is to clarify and shape the content of the writing and its meaning in order to meet the needs of the intended audience.

Writers should keep their audience in mind as they make decisions about how and what to revise. 

There are 4 main ways to revise a text

  1. Add information and/or details.  Have I given my readers enough information? Is anything missing?
  2. Rearrange parts of the text. Does the writing flow? Is this the best way to organize it?
  3. Remove parts in the writing that don't quite fit. Have I given too much information or provided too many details?
  4. Replace any parts of the writing that need to be rewritten, or replaced. Is the piece clear and interesting? Who can I ask to give me a second opinion? 

It should be noted that in Cycles 1 and 2, Elementary, revision generally involves adding a little more detail to help the reader better understand the text, or using different words and descriptions to make the writing more interesting or precise.

 

Editing

Editing is the final stage before a text is published. Editing is different from revision. It involves scanning the surface features of a text, such as language usage, grammatical conventions, spelling and syntax, to check for clarity and correctness.  Once a student has completed a final text edit, it is helpful to have a reading partner read it back to them.

Editing means noticing and correcting:

  • words
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • verb tense
  • visual presentation

Editing requirements should be developmentally appropriate based on the age of the students and individual needs. 

Sharing/Publishing

All students should have the opportunity to have some of their writing published for others to read and appreciate. Having an authentic audience beyond the teacher provides a real purpose for the writing.

Publication ideas include:

  • class anthology 
  • bulletin board
  • letters to the editor
  • school/class newsletter or website
  • hand-made books

 

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Additional Resources

ReadWriteThink: Implementing the Writing Process. This strategy guide explains the writing process and offers practical methods for applying it in your classroom to help students become proficient writers.