Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing Process

A few years ago, Su Palmer was assistant superintendent of curriculum for my district. She introduced me to writing workshop, "draft books", writing demonstrations,  Dancing With the Pen, Smith and Elley's (1997) How Children Learn to WriteEffective Literacy Practice. I couldn't get enough. As I began to develop my understandings, I made significant changes in my teaching practice and watched my students grow as writers.

After serving as superintendent in a K-8 school for a few years, Su is now teaching at the college level. She visited my classroom last week to observe my students during our literacy block to get a feel for the realities of the classroom.

She reminded me of two key components of effective writing instruction:
1) make the writing process explicit
2) follow the writing process all the way through to publishing

And, she reminded me of the value of collegial conversations.

My students have been doing lots of pre-writing, drafting, revising, and some editing all year. But, somehow in our busyness, publishing had taken a back seat. The reality is, it's not easy to squeeze in publishing without making it a priority. So, to help make the writing process visible and explicit, we made this chart as a class and have it posted in a prominent place. And, I've started publishing student writing--my goal is to confer with at least 3-4 students each day until each student has one published piece over the next 2 weeks.


  1. I am looking at your anchor chart for the writing process and really like the expanded terms for revising - make it better, and editing - make it correct. It concerns me how teachers blur the line between these two parts of the process.

  2. Thanks for your comment! That concerns me as well. I find that students are much more receptive to both revising and editing when those lines are clear and explicit. They get that you can make your writing better by adding details, narrowing the focus, or whatever, but 1st graders can't edit or make correct what they don't yet know! So, I look for one or two teaching points, have them work to edit for those points, and then I edit the rest if it's a piece that is going to be published.

    I'm sure there are other resources, but I like to check out Ralph Fletcher's website when I need to refresh my thinking about teaching writing: