How to Teach the Writing Process
The Writing Process
The Writing Process is just that: a process. Unfortunately, for good quality writing, it cannot be rushed, nor can elements of it be bypassed. It is not a matter of turning a graphic organizer into a piece of writing and calling it finished. There is a lot more craft that needs to be put into that piece of writing in order to make it the best it can be.
So often in middle and high school, students complete work to finish it. There is very little pride put into the work they complete because it's just a matter of getting it done, turning it in, and accepting a grade for it. I've always struggled as a writer myself, teaching the writing process and really showing my students how important it is to take the time to work and rework the piece until it feels just right. The downside is that as writers, we all know a piece can never really be "finished" as there is always revision that can be done. Staying true to the craft of writing in the classroom means finding a place between doing it to get it done and having something that is never done
Steps of the Writing Process
The writing process can be broken into six steps. Each step is vital in the process and shouldn't be skipped. If time is a factor, shorten the time spent on the steps, but do not eliminate any steps. The best part about the process is that each step can be accomplished in manner that is comfortable for each writer. If there is anything that will get in the way of teaching students to be authentic writers, it is forcing a student to do any of the steps in a way that doesn't work with his or her personal learning style.
The first step is the brainstorming step. Brainstorming is all about coming up with ideas for the essay. There is always a task or a purpose for the writing so it is important for the student to begin to focus ideas around that purpose or task. This step is very free and open and shouldn't look like an outline or a draft; it is just a chance for the writer to gather his or her thoughts and ideas around the essay.
After brainstorming, the writer will then outline. It is important to teach students the many ways to outline. Regardless of which way the writer chooses to outline, the task in this step is still the same. A rough thesis statement should be made and the information from the brainstorming step should be organized around that thesis statement. Ideas and thoughts are being brought to order in the outlining step.
Once the outline is complete, students can begin drafting. Many students think of the rough draft as the first draft and then they will (maybe) write a final draft and then they are done. This way of thinking needs to change and students need to see the drafting stage as an opportunity to work and craft their writing into a solid final product.
Inside the drafting step, there are two steps that help the writer craft and enhance their his or her writing. Revision and editing allow the students to look at their essay and make changes. Revision literally means "re-seeing" and that is exactly what the writer should do during this step. Revisions are made to the content of the writing while editing is made to the mechanics of the writing. It is important to separate the two, to make sure that students take time to look at content on its own and make changes and then to go through and look at the mechanics of the writing.
The final step is publishing, or making the product ready for the intended audience to view. This step is more or less about presentation and how appealing the work is to the eye. This step requires the writer to question the outward appeal of his or her final piece.
After a writer has taken his or her piece through this entire process, making sure to hit each step along the way, the writing piece that is presented is going to be a well thought out, well written document that he or she can take pride in. It will become more than a grade to them, as it really is a piece of them.