The Writing Process
Teacher, as you know, great works of literary genius don't just come flowing from the finger tips. Neither do research papers, book reports, or articles for the school newspaper. It is vital to drill the writing process into a student's head, yet how to do it without becoming the overbearing bully kids complain about at the lunch table? First let me offer the disclaimer that I am not a teacher, but I have had several, both good and bad. Now that that's out of the way, here's a few suggestions.
Prewriting is the baby of the whole process. It's important to sit down and try to figure out what the author wants to say and that gets done in this stage. Being thorough during prewriting is a great benefit during the actual writing because it sets up a path for the writer to follow. Here are a few different methods of prewriting. Have your students try several until they find one that best suits them.-free writing - writing down whatever comes to mind until eventually thoughts seem to follow a stricter direction.
-image streamlining- best for fiction, closing your eyes and imagining the scene you are trying to lay out from the first person point of view.
-group brainstorming- Using other students to help come up with several different ideas
-webbing/mapping- setting a path for your writing to follow.
-graphic organizers- different charts that allow thoughts and ideas to be more organized and narrowed down between the vital and extra.
-R.A.F.T.-Deciding and naming Role, Audience, Format, Topic
Now that ideas are more focused, it is time to have your students actually write the rough draft of their paper. A rough draft is a great way to see how ideas are forming and then to take a second look and see if anything needs to be added or taken out. Some teachers suggest writing the rough copy in pencil or double spaced so that it may be easily corrected. Advise students to not worry about being perfect at this stage, or to be worried if they have written enough. Perhaps allow students to swap papers with the student next to them to get an objective opinion and look for any errors.
The rough draft is now done and it is time to go over it and see if there are any errors that could be fixed or if writing style could be improved. It is a chance to go over and see if there could be clearer, more concise, more interesting, or more informative ways of saying certain things. Have students read their papers allowed. Can they do so without stumbling? Or do they realize they repeated themselves? Is the plot logical and easy to follow with a clear goal? Is the introduction catchy and does the conclusion leave an impact? What kind of mental picture is created in the reader's mind? Ask both your student and yourself these questions and compare answers. Now is also a chance to go through and count words/pages and be sure that the paper is long enough for the assignment.
Now the fun part. The paper is done, context wise. It's time to go looking for all the spelling and grammatical errors. Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure must be checked. Warn students that the spell check button will not take care of all their worries. Often the spell check will provide a word that seems correct but may in fact not be. A dictionary is the best way to be sure that the intended word and correct spelling is used. Can sentences be combined using and, but, yet, or, so, whom, that, because, although, if, or others? Are commas and periods used correctly? Does every sentence have two parts: the subject (the do-er) and the predicate (what's happening)? Create a quick checklist or print one out here for students to use.
After all that hard work, it's time to show it off! Have students read their papers in front of the class or put them up for display.