What is the writing process?
Before we can set up our blueprint for writing, students need to understand the question, “What is the writing process?” In my class, I use planning, writing, revising, editing, and finally publishing as the 5 steps in the writing process.
By teaching students the writing process, students are aware of what their next steps will be when it comes to writing. I also teach my students that not every piece of writing needs to be revised, edited, and published. We pick and choose what goes through this process – just like our favorite published authors.
Since my class moves through the stages of the writing process at the same time, I like to keep process posters for student reference near my writing center. I know many teachers that use clothespins with student names to track where their students are in the writing process. I find this to be a lot to manage in my second grade class. You can read more about why I choose to have the class complete the stages together in my post What Is Writer’s Workshop?
Step 1: Plan
The first in the 5 steps of the writing process is the planning stage. Often this is also called the pre-writing step. I like to say we are making a plan because it makes more sense to me. For the planning stage I am teaching my students a variety of ways to make a plan.
Some of the ways we might plan:
Often I will model how to plan my own writing as a whole class lesson. Students will then plan their own writing independently using the same process I modeled. I strongly encourage my writers to use their own ideas and not just copy what I do. Copying is very common in kindergarten through second grade classrooms. Especially for your less seasoned writers.
Step 2: Write
During the second stage of the writing process, the writing or drafting step, students begin to put their ideas and plans into sentences and (hopefully) paragraphs. Encourage students that spelling doesn’t matter as much as getting their ideas down.
I have found that students struggling with writing often get stuck in this stage because they have trouble forming their letters or figuring out spelling. This has them taking forever to put something on the page or acting out because they just can’t do what you’re asking.
In the beginning of the school year I recommend building in some mini lessons about how to put words on paper. Even with second graders, some of your students might need this refresher after summer and because they’re new to you, they need to learn your expectations during writing time.
Step 3: Revise
After the planning and writing stages of the writing process comes revision. Teaching how to revise can be tricky with your young learners. I teach students that when we revise we are making our story better by adding details or moving, removing, or changing words. Most students naturally want to fix spelling errors at this point but I try to help them resist. Once it’s further in the year and they know to fix errors with their red writing editing pen, then I will let them.
Using writing partners during the revision stage is a crucial part of getting your students to understand the writing process. Having a partner to read their writing to can really go a long way in helping them identify any confusing parts or unclear ideas. A well-trained partner can also ask questions to help add details.
Step 4: Edit
The fourth stage of the writing process is editing. During the editing stage, students can finally focus on their mechanics of writing, or their spelling and punctuation. I encourage students to use phonetic spelling and reference our sound wall to help spell words.
Their writing partner can also help offer spelling suggestions. For first and second grade, I do not expect perfect spelling unless it is a word or pattern we have practiced and the majority of the class should know. All my students from the first day of school to the last know my expectation on capitals and periods. In other words, everyone is expected to start a sentence with a capital and end with a period. This is one of my non-negotiables for their writing.
Related Post: Editing and Revising Teaching Methods
Step 5: Publish
The last of the 5 steps of the writing process is to publish. As I mentioned earlier, I do not ask students to publish every piece of writing – that would get old pretty fast for kids! Instead, I look for breaks in my writing unit to publish. Ideally a break would be when we switch to a different style of writing. For example, in my opinion writing unit students publish an opinion paragraph, a book report, and a persuasive letter. In between publishing we are practicing several versions of these styles of writing.
Publishing is a great way to celebrate your students’ hard work and getting them proud of their new writing skills. Varying the way students publish their writing is also a great way to keep them excited and engaged during writing time.
Some ways to publish a writing piece:
Use fancy borders on their paper
Use large butcher paper for oversized stories
Make a slide show
I hope you found some clarity on teaching the 5 steps in the writing process. Using these stages is a great way to help further develop your students’ writing skills. Breaking down the writing process and cycling through it as you move through your lessons will help your students be more confident. Best of all, their upper elementary teachers will be blown away by how thoughtfully your students can plan, write, revise, edit, and publish a piece of writing!