The Writing Process
The writing process has been described in a number of different
steps or phases. For the purpose of this guide, three large steps are
used, planning, drafting and
Professional writers plan their writing, sometimes at their
desk, sometimes while engaged in other routine activities such as mowing
the lawn or washing dishes. Novice writers need to understand the importance
of planning and often require explicit directions on how to plan. Your
students may need help and encouragement to think and read about a topic
before they begin writing. The student messages soliciting information
for their sponsored Learning Circle project will help your students plan.
It might also be helpful to begin by having your students respond to these
three planning questions:
- What is the topic of our writing?
- Who is our audience? What will be interesting to them?
- What do we want to accomplish by writing about this topic
(e.g., convey information, persuade policy makers, etc.)?
Drafting is the process of writing down ideas, organizing
them into a sequence, and providing the reader with a frame for understanding
these ideas. The end result is a composition or "first draft" of the ideas.
The following questions might be helpful to students as they compose their
- What ideas or thoughts will we include?
- How will we organize the material?
- How will we introduce, develop and conclude our first
- What will the title of our article be? (A clever title
can help ensure a large readership!)
Research continues to identify many advantages to having
students write cooperatively. At the idea stage, multiple perspectives
help students explore the topic more extensively. Students working together
on a computer often create higher quality drafts with a tighter focus
on the topic. The immediate response provided by a writing partner during
the composing stage helps students develop their ideas in a coherent way.
Polishing refers to the process of editing and revising
based on an evaluation of the writing. It is the hard work that a writer
devotes to a piece of writing that is likely to reach a wide audience
and serves as a reflection of oneself.
Response or feedback on students' writing can significantly
improve the quality of their work. The response can be in the form of
a conference with the teacher, but it is also important to encourage peer
response, since peers constitute the primary audience. Student response
groups can be very helpful in reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of
Students may need help to understand that the revision of
an article is a creative step that all professional writers engage in
frequently. It is not just correcting a poorly written paper. Writers
often go through many revisions before they are satisfied with their work.
It is helpful if the teacher can arrange to have a professional writer
talk with the class about his or her own process of revision.
The questions that students should ask themselves as they
proceed through the polishing stage are:
- How can the responses from others improve our paper?
- What new ideas do we have for the paper?
- What information should we add or delete?
- Have we corrected all spelling and grammatical errors?
to EXCHANGING STUDENT WORK
Copyright © 1997, 2002, Margaret