By Anneda Nettleton
The Writing Process is an important skill for students to understand as they develop into stronger, more sophisticated writers. By understanding the steps associated with taking a composition from prewriting to publication, writers become more invested in their topic and develop a stronger ability to effectively communicate using written expression.
While there are many ways to hook and engage students with writing, I suggest using Write About (www.writeabout.com) to get students applying the process and sharing their work with classmates. As a 5th Grade Teacher, here is how I used Write About to engage and guide my students through the six stages of the Writing Process. Feel free to follow my model or make slight modifications!
To get started, curate a few topic choices that are sure to lure your students in. Write About makes it easy with THOUSANDS to choose from for every genre! For example, I posted a writing Idea related to three adventures at various locations: the beach, the mountains, and a big city. To emphasize prewriting, I gave students some brief notes about the prewriting/brainstorming process. Next, I had students choose one of the pinned Ideas and make a bulleted list of around twenty details relating to their adventure.
I emphasized that the goal was not to use sentences or even detailed phrases - just focus on brainstorming related to their desired destination.
On day two, the students and I discussed drafting their Posts. We returned to their prewriting and looked at how those could be organized into a paragraph. We looked at examples of topic sentences, conclusion sentences, and using transitions throughout the paragraph.Then, students drafted their paragraph directly under their prewriting notes from the previous day, allowing for a visible flow of thought process and writing! Once students finished their paragraphs, they were asked to ‘publish’ their work to the class so we could be ready for the revising part of our lesson on day three. A note on publishing permissions: I have my privacy settings set to include moderation before Posts can be published, so I went through and approved them. If you don’t want to approve each post, you can also model for students, utilize peer review, and spot check to allow for more autonomy.
Students were presented with notes about revising before we returned to the Write About Posts. After students discussed and expressed understanding about the difference between editing and revision, they were assigned two classmates’ Posts to read. Each peer reviewer added three comments to the Posts the read. I had previously modeled for students to have the first comment directly relate to the author’s use of a topic sentence and conclusion sentence. Examples of student comments were: “You need to clarify your topic sentence. I am having trouble identifying it.” or “Your topic sentence is really clear, but your conclusion is a little weak.”
Next, students reflected on the details presented in the paragraph, noting any details that seemed irrelevant. Comments were as basic as “Review sentence 2 - does this fit your main idea?” Or, “All of your details do relate to the main idea. Excellent work.” The third and final comment required the peer reviewer to ask the author a question that would prompt additional reflection and encourage students to add more detail as part of the revising process.
Following the peer review process, students worked to revise their paragraphs. Once again, these changes were made by rewriting the revised paragraph directly beneath the brainstorming notes and first draft. As students revised, they used their peers’ comments to remove irrelevant information, add stronger organizational elements (topic sentence, conclusion sentence, transitions, etc.), and improve idea development by adding in answers to their peers’ questions.
On day five, students were ready to edit their work. Following a discussion and some brief notes about conventional correctness (capitalization, usage, punctuation, and spelling), students checked their revised drafts for errors. All errors were corrected, as students wrapped up the Editing stage of their Writing Process.
The exciting culmination to these pieces was their final work to publish the paragraph. Students made a perfect (or nearly perfect) copy of their paragraph in line with their previous writing and chose whether to publish their post to their Class, the entire School or to the other classrooms we have connected with on Write About. The students had taken their chosen adventure from list of general Ideas and brainstorming notes to a well-organized paragraph! More importantly, they had a digital experience of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing! Best of all, the students had a real-world understanding of what is means to be a writer who develops an idea into a piece that is ready by others!
Anneda resides in Kentucky with her two children and is a veteran educator with over sixteen years of experience teaching English Language Arts. She loves watching her students develop into stronger writers.