Dr. Ghazi Ghaith
American University of Beirut
INDEX1- The Nature of the Writing Process
2- Developmental Writing Stages1-Novice Writer (unskilled, unaware, teacher-dependent writer)3- Approaches to Teaching Writing
2-Transitional Writer (transitional, self-involved, self-delineating writer)
3-Willing Writer (peer-involved, willing writer)
4-Independent Writer (independent, autonomous writer)a-The Controlled-to-Free Approach4- Model Activities
b-The Free-Writing Approach
c-The Paragraph-Pattern Approach
d-The Grammar-Syntax-Organization Approach
e-The Communicative Approach
f-The Process Approach
5- Process Writing Activitiesa- Pre-writing: A Place to Start6- Mini-lessons
b- Planning: Organizing for Drafting
c- Drafting: A Time to Indulge
(Some suggestions for scaffolds at the drafting stage)
d- Post-writing: Preparing To Go Public
(Some suggestions for post-writing scaffolds)
7- Supporting and Managing the Writing Process
Read the following passage and do the tasks that follow:
The Nature of the Writing Process
Writing is a complex process that allows writers to explore thoughts and ideas, and make them visible and concrete. Writing encourages thinking and learning for it motivates communication and makes thought available for reflection. When thought is written down, ideas can be examined, reconsidered, added to, rearranged, and changed.
Writing is most likely to encourage thinking and learning when students view writing as a process. By recognizing that writing is a recursive process, and that every writer uses the process in a different way, students experience less pressure to "get it right the first time" and are more willing to experiment, explore, revise, and edit. Yet, novice writers need to practice “writing” or exercises that involve copying or reproduction of learned material in order to learn the conventions of spelling, punctuation, grammatical agreement, and the like. Furthermore, students need to “write in the language” through engaging in a variety of grammar practice activities of controlled nature. Finally, they need to begin to write within a framework “flexibility measures” that include : transformation exercises, sentence combining, expansion, embellishments, idea frames, and similar activities).
Obviously, not all students of the same age or grade level write in the same way; students pass through several developmental writing stages:
Novice Writer (unskilled, unaware, teacher-dependent writer)
- has little, if any, individual style
- has little awareness of writing process
- has undeveloped skills and techniques
- seeks approval from teacher
- is reluctant to revise any writing
- believes good writing comes easily
Transitional Writer (transitional, self-involved, self-delineating writer)
- needs support and coaching in order to develop
- learns from modeled behaviors
- is developing a degree of comfort with the craft
- is anxious to stand alone, yet is uncomfortable with peer collaboration
- is developing an awareness of personal needs, interests, and preoccupations
Willing Writer (peer-involved, willing writer)
- is able to collaborate well with others
- requires external feedback to shape progress
- is able to profit from criticism
- is developing objectivity concerning work
- enjoys practicing craft
- is developing a sensitivity to audience
Independent Writer (independent, autonomous writer)
- makes highly objective self-assessments
- has developed a sophisticated personal style
- has developed a writer's voice
- takes risks and experiments
- is self-motivating and self-aware as a writer
- is a craftsperson
Task 1: Define the notions of writing down, writing in the language, and
flexibility measures and give examples based on what you have read.
Task 2: Write an essay to describe the nature and the stages of development
of the writing process.
Read the passage below and do the task that follows:
Approaches to Teaching Writing
There are several approaches to teaching writing that are presented by (Raimes, 1983) as follows:
a-The Controlled-to-Free Approach
In the 1950s and early 1960, the audio-lingual method dominated second-language learning This method emphasized speech and writing served to achieve mastery of grammatical and syntactic forms. Hence teachers developed and used techniques to enable student to achieve this mastery. The controlled-to-free approach in is sequential: students are first given sentence exercises, then paragraphs to copy or manipulate grammatically by changing questions to statements, present to past, or plural to singular. They might also change words to clauses or combine sentences. With these controlled compositions, it is relatively easy to for students write and yet avoid errors, which makes error correction easy. Students are allowed to try some free composition after they have reached an intermediate level of proficiency. As such, this approach stress on grammar, syntax, and mechanics. It emphasizes accuracy rather than fluency or originality.
b-The Free-Writing Approach
This approach stresses writing quantity rather than quality. Teachers who use this approach assign vast amounts of free writing on given topics with only minimal correction. The emphasis in this approach is on content and fluency rather than on accuracy and form. Once ideas are down on the page, grammatical accuracy and organization follow. Thus, teachers may begin their classes by asking students to write freely on any topic without worrying about grammar and spelling for five or ten minutes. The teachers does not correct these pieces of free writing. They simply read them and may comment on the ideas the writer expressed. Alternatively, some students may volunteer to read their own writing aloud to the class. Concern for “audience” and “content” are seen as important in this approach.
c-The Paragraph-Pattern Approach
Instead of accuracy of grammar or fluency of content, the Paragraph-Pattern-Approach stresses on organization. Students copy paragraphs and imitate model passages. They put scrambled sentences into paragraph order. They identify general and specific statements and choose to invent an appropriate topic sentence or insert or delete sentences. This approach is based on the principle that in different cultures people construct and organize communication with each other in different ways.
d-The Grammar-Syntax-Organization Approach
This approach stresses on simultaneous work on more than one composition feature. Teachers who follow this approach maintain that writing can not be seen as composed of separate skills which are learned sequentially. Therefore, student should be trained to pay attention to organization while they also work on the necessary grammar and syntax. This approach links the purpose of writing to the forms that are needed to convey message.
e-The Communicative Approach
This approach stresses the purpose of writing and the audience for it. Student writers are encouraged to behave like writers in real life and ask themselves the crucial questions about purpose and audience:
Why am I writing this?
Who will read it?
Traditionally, the teacher alone has been the audience for student writing. But some feel that writers do their best when writing is truly a communicative act, with a writer writing for a real reader. As such, the readership may be extended to classmate and pen pals.
f-The Process Approach
Recently, the teaching of writing has moved away from a concentration on written product to an emphasis on the process of writing. Thus, writers ask themselves:
How do I write this?
How do I get started?
In this approach, students are trained to generate ideas for writing, think of the purpose and audience, write multiple drafts in order to present written products that communicate their own ideas. Teachers who use this approach give students time to tray ideas and feedback on the content of what they write in their drafts. As such, writing becomes a process of discovery for the students as they discover new ideas and new language forms to express them. Furthermore, learning to write is seen as a developmental process that helps students to write as professional authors do, choosing their own topics and genres, and writing from their own experiences or observations. A writing process approach requires that teachers give students greater responsibility for, and ownership of, their own learning. Students make decisions about genre and choice of topics, and collaborate as they write.
During the writing process, students engage in pre-writing, planning, drafting, and post-writing activities. However, as the writing process is recursive in nature, they do not necessarily engage in these activities in that order.
The production of a clear and communicative piece of writing requires attention to the elements of writing tabulated below. Put check mark in the appropriate columns to indicate whether the different approaches address the elements of writing based on what you have read.
|Controlled- to Free||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
Activity 1: Simple Description with Visuals. (For cycles I & II only)
Have students examine a picture and ask them to name the objects in it. Then ask students to write a paragraph to describe the picture. The procedure for the activity may be as follows:
Provide the class with a picture of a room such as the one below. Ask students to label the objects in the picture and have them write a paragraph to describe the picture. Provide students with expressions and language structure if needed such as: “In the classroom there is “ and have students complete the paragraph.
Activity 2: Completing a Description Paragraph. (For cycles I & II only)
Have students examine a picture and complete a description paragraph. The procedure for this activity may be as follows:
Examine the picture in Activity 1 and complete the following paragraph:
Mary lives in a very nice room. In her room, there is a ———, ———, and a ———. There are also several———. There are no ———, but Mary does have some ———. She wants to get a ——— for her wall and a ——— for the desk this afternoon when she goes shopping.
Activity 3: Completing a Description Paragraph: (For cycles I & II only)
Give students a picture and have them complete a description by supplying the prepositions and expressions required by the context.
The procedure for this activity may be as follows:
Have students examine the picture in Activity 1 and complete the following paragraph:
This is a picture of Mary’s room. Her bed is ——— the window. ——— the bed and the window is a small chest of drawers. There is a bookcase ——— her bed on the ———. She has a radio that is ——— the book case, and she puts her books ——— the book case ——— three shelves. ——— the room. She has a very nice desk where she prepares her work for school.
Activity 4: Writing a Description from Questions. (For cycles I & II only)
Have students examine a picture and use a set of questions as a guide to write a short description of the picture.
The procedure for this activity may be as follows:
Examine the picture in Activity 1 and write a description of it, using the questions below as guide lines.
1. Does Mary have a nice room?
2. What kind of things does she have in the room?
3. What do you like in Mary’s room?
4. Do you have a room like Mary’s room? Describe your room in a few sentences.
Activity 5: Slash Sentences (For cycles I & II only)
Give students a set of sentence cues and have them write a short narrative paragraph.
The procedure for this activity may be as follows:
Make comlete sentences according to the model.
Model: The Smiths / Summer / in the country/ spend
The Smiths spend Summer in the country.
1. all / family / In the morning / to get up / arround / 8’oclock.
2. Mr. Smith / the kitchen / coffee / to prepare / to go down strairs.
3. his / wife / then / breakfast / to go outside / in / the garden.
Activity 6: Sentence Combining
Give students a set of propositions and have them combine them into complete sentences:
The procedure for this activity may be as follows:
Provide students with set of propositions such as the ones below:
1. The man is tall.
2. The man has dark hair.
3. The man is standing by the door.
4. The man looks suspicious
Have students combine the propositions in one sentence.
Activity 7 : Composition based on oral interview.
Have students interview a partner and a composition telling what they learned about the person they interviewed.
The procedure for this activity may be as follows:
Have students interview a partner a certain topics and have then write a composition to tell what they had learned about this partner sample topics:
1. Talk about yourself and your family (i.e., where are you from, where your family lives, your hobbies, etc…).
2. Talk about what you like and dislike about your school.
3. Describe a memorable event.
4. Describe your goals and future plans.
5. Describe a recent vacation.
Process Writing Activities
The following process writing activities can be used in cycle I & II of Basic Education.
Pre-writing: A Place to Start
Pre-writing, the first stage in the writing process, begins long before the writer puts thoughts into writing. The experiences, observations, and interactions that students have prior to entering the classroom have an impact upon what they will write and how they will write it. Within the classroom, pre-writing prompts and activities can be integrated into the writing process as scaffolds by teachers to help students generate ideas for their writing and to practice the thinking skills inherent in the activity.
To initiate thinking and generate possible writing topics, it is important for students to explore ideas for writing topics using a variety of pre-writing strategies, such as the following:
- Constructing thought webs and graphic organizers
- Interviewing a person knowledgeable about the topic
- Engaging in peer or teacher-student discussions and conferences
- Listening to music
- Reading about and researching the topic
- Free writing or timed free writing about the topic
- Viewing media such as pictures, movies, and television
- Listing and categorizing information
- Reflecting upon personal experience
- Examining writing models
- Responding to literature
- Role playing and other drama techniques
- Asking the 5 Ws--who, what, where, when and why.
To explore topics about which to write, the teacher may post suggestions on the bulletin board for student reference. He/she may invite students to add their own pre-writing strategies to ideas such as the following:
1. Brainstorming about people, places, and feelings
Write down or tell a partner the names of people you could describe, then quickly and briefly describe each one. Name several places you have visited and list descriptive words for each place. List and describe some memorable feelings you have had, and explain the situation in which they occurred.
2. Talking and listening in pairs or groups
Take turns telling about an interesting person, thing, incident, or object. Encourage the listeners to ask questions and add ideas. Record possible writing topics or ideas as they arise during the discussion.
3. Looking at art
Study paintings, photographs, drawings, or sculpture in magazines or art books. It may even be useful to take a trip to a local museum or art gallery. Jot down notes and questions about the artwork, the artist and the subject, and any topic ideas that come to mind during the observation. It may help to talk over your information and ideas with a partner or small group. Explain to a partner the stories in the art works.
4. Listening to music
Listen to music you like best or a variety of new and unfamiliar music. Listen to tape recordings or to the radio, closing your eyes and letting the music paint pictures in your mind. Record these images as you listen, or turn off the music and quickly record your ideas. It may be helpful to tell the story you have imagined to a partner or group.
5. Role playing
Pretend to be any character, ask peers to act as other characters, and dramatize an event or incident, and what happened as a result of that incident or event.
6. Observing with all senses
Be aware of all that is happening around you, in the classroom, at home, in restaurants, in malls, and wherever you go. Listen closely to conversations of the people you observe, and try to capture the details of their manners and dress. Observe for issues, problems, or achievements in your community. Jot down ideas and notes as you observe them or as soon as possible after your observations.
7. Listing ideas and information
List such things as the activities that interest you, the sports you play, the clubs that you belong to, and the community and world issues that you know about from the media.
Read such things as nonfiction books, novels, magazines, stories, newspapers, and poems. Jot down ideas that occur to you as you read and list questions you might investigate further. Keep track of interesting vocabulary, story plots, and characters.
9. Newspaper searches
Read the stories and captions that catch your interest. Jot down ideas for writing a newspaper article or ideas that can be developed into other kinds of writing.
10. Author visits
As the authors share their writing and discuss the craft of writing, students gain further understanding of the writing process and possibly get ideas for their own writing.
Pre-writing prompts or activities planned by the teacher can serve as writing scaffolds for inexperienced writers who have difficulty accessing their own feelings, ideas, experiences, and knowledge. Teacher-planned pre-writing activities, such as the samples that follow, give students a place to start and make them become aware of places from which to get ideas in the future. Students who have a place to start with will be more motivated to continue developing their ideas and their own writing voices.
Sample Pre-writing Activity #1
Time allotment (5-10 minutes)
Give each student any book or magazine to use (e.g., Readers' Digest, anthologies). The teacher should have a selection also, in order to model the process.
Have students open their books or magazines at any page and choose a word at random—the first word that jumps off the page at them--and record this as Word #1; close the book.
Continue this until each student has four words recorded. Students then focus for about one minute on each word separately, and list all their thoughts, ideas and associations that the word generates. Students then begin to make connections among the four words and their lists of personal associations by writing phrases, sentences, and ideas that demonstrate a relationship among the words. Students now have had a writing warm-up and may continue developing the ideas generated or bank these ideas for another day's writing.
Sample Pre-writing Activity #2
Time allotment (5-12 minutes)
Teachers may request that students bring pictures of people, or the teacher may supply them (photographs or pictures clipped from magazines). Each picture should show several people in sufficient detail to reveal size, facial expression, dress, and other facets of character.
Quickly walk the students through this activity, question by question, so they record the first thoughts and reactions that the pictures generate, rather than dwelling too long on one question. The teacher should ask students to examine their pictures closely, and explain that they will need to use their imagination for the activity. Some questions the teacher might ask are:
- Who is the main character in the picture?
- What is an appropriate name for this character?
- How old is this character?
- What emotions is this character showing in the picture? Describe the evidence that you have for this (e.g., facial expression, gestures).
- What kind of work might the character do for a living? Give reasons to support your decision.
- What might the person be thinking or saying? What makes you imagine this?
- What other characteristics are revealed by the character's dress and stance?
- What might have happened before the picture was taken? What might happen next?
- How are the other characters in the picture related to the main character? What evidence makes you think so?
- What is the attitude of the main character to the other characters? What is the attitude of the other characters to the main character? What are some possible reasons for these attitudes?
- What might it be like to be the main character or one of the other characters?
Instruct students to record ideas briefly, using phrases and words rather than sentences. Students then may take the opportunity to develop their ideas further, or save their notes and ideas for use at a later date.
Sample Pre-writing Activity #3
Time allotment (5-8 minutes)
- Prepare the students for free writing by explaining that they should write whatever thoughts enter their head from the moment that the teacher says "go" to the moment he/she says "stop", even if it means writing and rewriting, I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write. When the pen or pencil hits the paper it does not stop for pauses, erasures, or corrections. Eventually, most students begin to focus and the writing flows. Students then have the opportunity to develop these pre-writing ideas further or save them for another day.
Planning: Organizing for Drafting
After students have generated some ideas, they must decide what they will say about their chosen topic. Students develop an initial plan for the product they will compose. As they do so, they must consider the purpose, audience, point of view, and format because these elements have implications for both the planning and the drafting of the written product.
To develop an initial plan for drafting, students organize the information they have generated during pre-writing by using such structures as outlines, story frames, maps, diagrams, charts, and concept webs.
To consider purpose, students write to express ideas, feelings, emotions, and opinions, and they must ask themselves, "What is my purpose for writing this piece?" Some purposes for students’ writings are:
1. to express personal feelings or viewpoints
2. to imagine "What if ...?"
3. to narrate
4. to entertain and/or amuse
5. to describe
6. to inform or explain
7. to persuade or convince
8. to request
9. to inquire or question
10. to explore and experiment with ideas and formats
11. to clarify thinking.
To consider audience, students must consider who they are writing for and students must ask themselves, "Who is my intended audience?" Some possible audiences are:
1. familiar, known audiences: self, friends, peers, family, teachers
2. extended, known audiences: community, student body, local media
3. extended, unknown audiences: wider range of media and other publications
To consider point of view, students must determine from which point of view their ideas or information will be expressed, so they need to ask themselves, "Who is telling this story/describing the events?" Some points of view for students’ consideration are:
1. physical point of view: where is the narrator in relation to the action?
2. objective and subjective point of view: what emotional involvement does the narrator have in relation to the situation?
3. personal point of view: who is the narrator of the story? (The narrator may take a first person, third person, or an all-knowing omniscient point of view.)
To decide what information will be gathered and how it will most effectively be gathered, students who decide that they need to conduct interviews or go on field trips to gather information will need to brainstorm and construct a list of questions. Students who require library research will need to decide the types of resources and references to consult.
To consider format, students will use audience and purpose to determine format and genre. They will have the opportunity to write in a variety of narrative, descriptive, expository, and poetic formats. Their writings may include formats and genres such as: advertisement, advice column, autobiography/biography, comic strip, letter of complaint/request/inquiry, diary/journal, readers theater/role play/monologue, book review, report, fable/fairy tale, greeting card, game rules, directions, interview, news story, poem/song, anecdote/personal experience story, sports column, short story, etc.
Drafting: A Time to Indulge
At this point in the process, the emphasis is on content and meaning rather than on mechanics and conventions. This is the time for writers to get down their ideas and thoughts, composing rough drafts based upon pre-writing and planning activities and considerations. As they compose, writers begin to determine what to include and exclude, and make initial decisions about how these ideas will be organized. During the drafting stage of the writing process, meaning begins to evolve.
To produce a first, rough draft, students record their ideas rapidly in order to capture the essence of what they have to say. They do not have to make any attempt to revise or edit at this point. They focus on talking to the reader and begin to develop a personal style as their voices emerge.
To write subsequent drafts, students often accomplish their work by crossing out, adding, and rearranging ideas directly on the page. The students’ redrafting does not necessarily require an entire rewrite at this time.
To reflect upon their own writing, students can conference with self, peers and the teacher. Through conferencing, students can get constructive feedback and support that may help them to shape their writings. A set of questions or a checklist can be used to assist writers and conference partners as they strive to help the writer make meaning clear.Sample 1: Self-Conference Checklist
Writer's Checklist Partner’s ChecklistAs you write ... Ask yourself some of these questions:
- How do I feel about what I've written so far?
- What is good that I can enhance?
- Is there anything about it that concerns me, does not fit, or seems wrong?
- What am I discovering as I write this piece?
- What surprises me? Where is it leading?
- What is my purpose?
- What is the one most important thing that I am trying to convey?
- How can I build this idea? Are there places that I wander away from my key idea?
- Who is my audience?Sample 2: Teacher-Student ChecklistDuring the teacher-student conference the teacher may as questions such as
- What is the part that you like best?
- Does it say what you want it to say?
- What do you mean by...?
- Where/when does your story take place?
- Are you satisfied with the beginning/ending? Why or why not?
- Does this sentence/word/phrase make sense to you?
- What reaction do you want your reader to have?
- How do you see your ideas being rearranged or changed? Why?Sample 3: Steps For A Peer Writing ConferenceWhen peers are conferencing
1.The writer decides how the written work will be shared. Will it be:
- read silently by the conference partner(s)?
- read aloud by the writer?
- read aloud by the conference partner(s)?
- a combination of the above?
2. The writer identifies what aspects of the written work will be the focus of the conference (e.g., the beginning paragraph, figurative language).
3.The conference partner states at least:
- one thing he/she considers that the writer has done well
- one thing he/she especially likes
- one suggestion which addresses the focus of the conference as identified by the writer. (It is useful to have students complete a written conference sheet to guide their responses, especially when the process is new to them.)
4. The writer retains the right to the written work and is responsible for making the final decision about any changes.
To revise the draft for content and clarity of meaning, students will reorganize and sequence relevant ideas, and add or delete details as they strive to make their meaning clear. Revisions can take place to words, sentences, paragraphs, or the whole piece (e.g., the writer may decide that the ideas would have more impact as poetry instead of prose).
To edit the draft for mechanical and conventional concerns that detract from and obscure meaning, students will proofread for accuracy and correctness in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and usage. Peer editing and editing partnerships or groups can be established to assist students who are at this stage in the process. The use of self and peer-editing checklists can be useful tools.
To focus purpose, audience, and point of view, and confirm appropriateness of format, students have to reconsider and confirm the use of the variables, which were pondered during the planning stage.
Sample 4: Revising Checklist of a Descriptive Paragraph (Self- & Peer-Assessment, Primary Level)
Yes No Did I include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion? Yes No
Yes No Did I write a good topic sentence for each paragraph? Yes No
Yes No Did I include details that support each topic sentence? Yes No
Yes No Did I avoid repeating the same words over and over again? Yes No
Yes No Did I use my senses to describe my topic? Yes No
Yes No Did I use descriptive nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs? Yes No
Writer's Checklist Partner’s ChecklistSample 5: Editing Checklist of a Descriptive Paragraph (Self- & Peer-Assessment, Primary Level)
Yes No Did I spell all words correctly? Yes No
Yes No Did I indent the first line of every paragraph? Yes No
Yes No Did I capitalize the first word of every sentence? Yes No
Yes No Did I punctuate the end of each sentence correctly? Yes No
Yes No Did I avoid using run-on sentences? Yes No
Yes No Is my handwriting neat? Yes No
Yes No Is my title capitalized correctly? Yes No
Yes No (Add your question here) Yes No
Some suggestions for scaffolds at the drafting stage include the following:- Post the major stages of a writing process (pre-writing, planning, drafting, post-writing) and brief information about each so that students can determine where they are at any time in the process.Some suggestions for post-writing scaffolds include the following:
- Help students develop criteria or tips for writing a particular genre or format (e.g., haiku, short story, letter), then post these on a bulletin board or have students record them in their notebooks for reference as they write.
- Set up a section of the classroom as a writing reference area and make available language resources such as dictionaries, thesauri, and grammar and usage texts. Encourage students to use these as needed individually or with peers and the teacher.
- Encourage students to use word-processing programs. This may be done in co-operation with teachers of Computer Science, Information Processing, or other areas of study where computers are used.
Post-writing: Preparing To Go Public
When students have an authentic audience and purpose, they want to rework their written drafts, polishing them for presentation or publication. Going public means taking a huge risk; the student's self-esteem is on the line, so the decision about how and with whom to share their writing must be up to the student writer. Teachers may encourage students to share certain pieces or determine the number of pieces that students are required to share or publish within a set time period, but ultimately the decision about which pieces to share, and with whom, should be left up to the writer.
To prepare a final, polished draft, students may write in legible handwriting or use a word-processing program to prepare a polished written work. Then their writings go to public through
3. Using a portfolio
Students may share their written work. Sharing is a useful post- writing activity since it provides students with an immediate audience. Some examples of sharing students’ writings include
1. The author's chair, which provides opportunity for students to share their writing aloud with the whole class;
2. Sharing in small groups or with a partner; and
3. Using bulletin board space assigned to a specific genre or to a class of students.
At times, students should be provided with opportunities to decide if they wish to share their written work, and whether they will share in pairs, in small groups, or with the whole class.
Students may choose to publish their writing. Some examples of publishing formats include:
- Class booklets
- School or local newspapers
- Writing contests
Using a portfolio
To decide if the written work will be placed in the student's assessment portfolio, teachers can negotiate with students to generate guidelines about the number and variety of pieces that they are required to place in their portfolio for assessment and evaluation purposes. Contracts may be useful to address individual student needs and abilities. Students should be involved in making choices about which of their written pieces will become part of their portfolios.
- Discuss or develop with students the criteria for polished pieces. Post these or provide them as handouts for students to refer to as needed.
- Provide opportunities for students to use computer word-processing programs to create final drafts.
- Have students share their final compositions with classmates or with others in the community, such as younger children or elderly people.
- Post or publish students' work in the classroom and provide opportunities, when appropriate, for students to submit to publishers outside the classroom.
At some point during most writing classes, in a 5-10 minute mini-lesson (length depends upon the procedure, concept, skill, or convention to be taught), the teacher provides students with information necessary for their writing. Mini-lessons about language usage and conventions such as spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation are necessary; however, they should emerge from the students' writing or the curriculum objectives, rather than being arbitrarily determined by the teacher. It is important to allow time for students to practice concepts introduced in mini-lessons within the context of their own writing.
The decision about what to teach in a mini-lesson depends upon the selected objectives as well as upon the students' needs and interests. The following lists provide examples of topics that may require mini-lessons.
Writing Process Procedures
1. pre-writing activities
2. writing rough drafts
4. participating in writing groups
5. peer and teacher conferences
6. writing folders and assessment portfolios
7. revising and editing final drafts
8. sharing and publishing.
Literary Elements and Devices
3. main idea/theme
5. narrative hook
6. point of view
9. comparisons (e.g., analogies, metaphors, similes)
12. rhyme and repetition.
Language Conventions and Mechanics
1. writing sentences
2. varying sentence structure (adding, deleting, substituting, moving, and combining)
3. writing opening and concluding paragraphs
4. writing descriptive paragraphs
5. punctuating items in a series
6. using the apostrophe
7. choosing titles
8. punctuating dialogue
9. selecting appropriate words (e.g., to show fear, suspense, bravery, or other characteristics).
Writing Formats and Genre
1. friendly or business letter
2. news article
3. short story
4. haiku poetry
5. personal experience narrative
6. science fiction.
Some mini-lessons may be planned for the whole class because the teacher has determined the need for students to have specific information that supports their learning or the unit of study. Other mini-lessons may be provided to individuals or small groups as the need arises. If the concept to be taught is complex, the teacher should provide instruction in steps, allowing students the opportunity to practise each step before putting them all together.
Teachers should keep records (e.g., lesson plan sheets, anecdotal notes, checklists) of mini-lesson topics and to whom they were presented. Students may also be required to keep records of mini-lessons received (e.g., handouts, notes, checklists), for future reference.
Supporting and Managing the Writing Process
To support and manage a writing process workshop, teachers should take time to ensure that students understand how the classroom structure and instructional activities work together. It is important to create an atmosphere that allows and encourages students to feel safe taking risks in order to develop a community of writers who support each other and share with each other (the teacher is a part of this community).
The teacher should be sure that
- desks are arranged in clusters or tables are used to accommodate four to six students.
- resources which will assist students as they write (e.g., dictionaries, language study texts, literature as models, and samples of student writing) are provided on a specified shelf.
- the writing process information is displayed on bulletin boards.
- the areas designated for specific activities (e.g., peer conferences, writing and publishing tasks) are set in the classroom.
Of course, the teacher plays an interactive role and builds scaffolds as needed. He/she should model the various writing formats and conventions of the writing process, and provide the needed help as each student is writing. As a member of the community of writers, the teacher also writes and shares his/her writing with the students. For instance, while the students are engaged in pre-writing, the teacher may do her/his writing on a chart for the students to observe. This models the process, as well as the specific format or conventions being used.
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