Studies show that students learn better if they review what they’ve learned periodically. I’ve designed a handout for reviewing the steps in the writing process. Just to refresh your memory, the steps in the writing process are as follows (with examples/explanations):
- Pre-writing: This is where you have the student make a web, flowchart, outline, or brainstorming page to help them think up a topic.
- Drafting (or 1st Draft): Every teacher is bound to have different requirements for their first draft stage. Some require double-spacing. Some prefer to have students write in pencil, so they can erase and revise as they go along. The trick to being good at drafting is this: don’t look back. Just keep moving forward, even though you know you’re making some mistakes. That’s why teachers sometimes call the first draft a “sloppy copy.”
- Editing: An editor proofreads a written work for mistakes. Now there is some disagreement among English teachers about which comes first, revising or editing. There’s a good reason for this. It’s simply a matter of what works best for you and your publisher. Editing means that you proofread for mistakes. Revising is where you change some of the fundamentals of the plot/setting/characters/themes in the written work. For some, it’s better to revise the first draft as you’re writing. For others, it’s best to get an editorial opinion before you begin to revise. How do I know this? Along with being an English teacher, I’m also an agented writer.
- Revising: This is where you re-write the first draft, to try to perfect it for publication. When I write a book, I use an online critique group to help me find most of the editorial mistakes (editing). Then I make some revisions. I pass the revisions off to my agent. She proofreads it once more (another round of edits) and passes it off to me with her ideas on the page. I use these editorial ideas to help me revise again. So often the edit/revise steps are repeated several times before a book goes to publication. And that’s why there’s a which-comes-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg argument about editing and revising. It doesn’t really matter in which order you teach these two steps, as long as the students comprehend that editing = proofreading and revising = re-writing to make improvements.
- Publishing: I teach my students that “publication” simply means, the work becomes public, so others can read it. There are a number of ways to do this, including but not limited to, publishing in a school newspaper, putting poems up in the school library, passing papers around for another class to read them, submitting an essay to a contest, mailing a letter, publishing on a blog like this one, etc… I’ve even been known to read my students’ essays out loud on AM radio stations, to help make them public. Teachers need to plan ahead to figure out ways to display their students’ writing, in order to make them public.
Teachers, the handout I’ve designed is available for your use right here, just click to download it. The idea behind this graphic organizer is to follow up a writing assignment with the assignment, to help students review the steps in the writing process after they’ve finished writing an essay. But you can easily adapt the handout for other forms of writing, including narrative writing, poems, letters, etc…
What will really show your gratitude for my free handout? Like my website on Facebook. Tell a friend. Link to this page from your blog. Get the word out! Thanks!