The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

The Writing Process

We do a lot of writing in fourth grade. However, I realised today that I was missing a very important component of my writing instruction. Up to this point, most of our writing has been quick first-draft responses to questions related to reading or other queries. We haven’t done as much with essays, narratives, or other writing.

Now that we are in the second quarter, I plan on increasing both the frequency and the quantity of writing in my classroom. Students have writing folders where they can track their works in progress and their completed projects. We have done a number of first drafts, but we need to get started on revising, editing, and rewriting. I had already planned on doing this. What I didn’t realise until today was that many of my students either didn’t know or simply forget about the actual writing process.

The students were working on writing essays about an invention they would create if they had unlimited time, money, and resources. (We read several short stories this week about inventions like the Stetson-style hat, ear muffs, and elevators.) I gave the class 30 minutes to start writing and then, after a fifteen-minute recess, another 15-20 minutes to continue writing. One student came up to me after about fifteen minutes, showed me a piece of paper with a picture and a few illustrations and said, “Okay, Mr. Valencic, I’m all done!” I looked at it and said, “No, I’m sorry, you’re not. This is a good start, but you should add a lot more information. Remember, writing isn’t a one-time-and-you’re-done process.” Her response: “Really? I thought it was!”

So I paused the whole class and went over the key elements of the writing process:

  • Planinning
  • Drafting
  • Revising/Editing
  • Rewriting
  • Publishing

I also pointed out that the drafting, revising/editing, and rewriting elements are often repeated many, many times. I used my own writing as an example. If I am writing for someone else, such as a guest blog post, I usually end up writing anywhere from three to six drafts or even more! (My own blog posts often have fewer drafts because I am able to write as much or as little as I wish without any worries.)

Starting next week and going on throughout the rest of the year, we will continue to work on improving our writing and building up the stamina to write for long periods of time. We have pretty good reading stamina and strong math stamina. Now we just need to add this next element. We’ve got plenty of time, to be sure, but I want my students to feel like they are doing their best every single time!

On a completely unrelated note, just a reminder that there is no school tomorrow because it is our district’s elementary inservice day! Have a fantastic weekend!

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