¶ … teachers assess only the final product of a student's writing work. The result of this is that students are left with the impression that writing is a one-time product that cannot improve beyond the first attempt. Teachers are faced with the dilemma that students deliver work with too much room for improvement. This makes adequate assessment, teaching and improvement strategies difficult. If writing in class is treated as a process with various stages, then improvements are easier, less overwhelming for the teacher and more understandable for students. The lesson will therefore focus on the point the chapter makes regarding writing as a process, and the fact that writing can be improved throughout every stage.
Students too often feel that writing exists only to complete a finish product. Teachers often encourage them in this view. The rationale of this lesson is then to focus students' attention on the fact that writing 1) is a process consisting of various stages, 2) can be improved at every stage of the process, 3) is usually focused on an audience, and 4) can be fun while being an educational experience.
Students will be able to produce documents that show evidence of clarity, logic and audience anticipation (3.B.4a). These documents will include focus, logic of organization, and appropriate support. Students will be able to evaluate written work for effectiveness and recommend improvements (3.B.4c). Finally students will be able to communicate information and ideas in narrative, informative and persuasive writing. This writing will be clear and effective, according to the standards decided upon in class.
Multiple intelligences used: Linguistic, logical, spatial and interpersonal.
Pens, colored pencils and crayons
Writing and drawing paper
Chalk board and chalk or marker board and markers
a sample of the teacher's (or friend's) writing from school years.
Teachers revision of the same piece
Sheet with questions for use in revision
A. Anticipatory set:
(Teacher says) Did you know that writing could mean the difference between life and death, or between riches and poverty? Think for example of powerful persons like kings or presidents. One letter from them could mean the reinstatement of the death penalty or a pardon for somebody who's been on death row for years. A letter could also mean the difference between a broken heart and true love. Have you ever written love letters to your boyfriends or girlfriends? You know what I'm talking about. Now think about your writing in class. I want to share a secret with you.
I never enjoyed writing in school. I'm sure that this comes as a surprise to you, as I'm always telling you to enjoy our activities. But I hated it. And my grades showed this. How many of you actually enjoyed writing so far in your school careers? (Most students are likely to answer in the negative, as intellectual activities are not their primary concern. This is connected to both their social and economic status, as well as the fact that they are freshmen in highschool.)
(Teacher goes on) My problem was, when I think back, that I never knew that there are many stages in writing. I thought you just put the words on paper and handed it in, hoping...
Of course the best was seldom what happened to me.
Preview: So today I decided to give you a little treat. I'm going to let you see the writing I did years ago, when I was your age. You will be the teacher for a while and tell me where I went wrong.
1. Read the first handout: sample of teacher's two drafts of writing
(Teacher asks): Did you enjoy reading the handout? (It is anticipated that students will answer in the negative). I can assure you that I didn't like writing it. Now there are two things I'd like you to do. First, tell me what the essay is about. (Students should answer that it describes a day in the park. Allow some time for students to describe the topic of the essay). Now I want you to see if there's anything in the essay that you recognize. Look at my teacher's comments. Did she write anything that seems familiar to you? (Once again, give time for students to scrutinize the teacher's comments). Okay, now the last thing I want you to do is tell me if you recognize anything familiar in my writing. Have I made some mistakes that you can recognize and improve? (Students are again allowed time to identify the considerable amount of mistakes). You know, the sad thing is that many of those errors were not made because I didn't know grammar. They were mistakes I overlooked because I was never aware that writing came in stages. (Hand out revised writing).
Now look at the handout you just received. What improvements do you see? (Students spend time comparing the two pieces of writing and identify the similarities and differences). The only difference between the first piece and the second piece is that I wrote the second one after being aware that writing takes time and attention. It doesn't happen suddenly or at once. It is a process with stages. In each stage, you can revise and improve what you have written. Of course I don't want you to take eighteen years to improve, so I'm going to give you the chance today to show that you can do better than me.
2. Brainstorming: Creative Activity
Students are given colored pencils and crayons, drawing paper, pens and writing paper.
They are divided into groups of two or three. (Teacher explains). When I was told to write about a day in the park I thought it was a stupid idea. I didn't like going to the park. I would have much better explained a movie that I liked or a hot boy that I had my eye on. Now I want you to think about your own lives. What is important to you? What do you like to think about? What can you talk about for hours without getting bored -- or without boring other people? (Pause after each question to give the students a chance to respond).
(Teacher continues): Now with your partners, I want you to think a little bit more about what's important in your lives. Talk to your partners about it. Then I want you to draw something that shows what is important to you. It doesn't have to be a very artistic picture. It just has to show the important topic or object in your life. You can add a word or two to explain the picture, but let the drawing do most of the work. (Students are given 15 minutes to finish the drawing). When the drawings are completed, a few students are offered the chance to explain their drawings.
3. First Draft:
(Teacher explains) In your group, choose the picture that you find the most descriptive, most interesting or most beautiful. Use this as a prompt for your writing. What I mean by this is that you use the picture for ideas. Look at the drawing and try to connect it to something that is important to you. Then write one or two paragraphs about it.
You must remember that this is just one more stage of your writing and that you will make improvements throughout this process. So don't worry right now about mistakes and don't try to be perfect in your writing. You are simply writing a first draft -- there will be many more. The point is that you enjoy this stage as much as possible (Students are given 15 minutes to write a paragraph or two).
4. Revision: audience
Students are told to stop the freewriting exercise. (Teacher says) Now the first stages of your writing are over and everyone has a piece of writing in front of them. The next stage will focus on improvement. It is very important to realize that the first attempt at writing is not perfect. You will notice this as you read through your and your friends' work. My first draft that you read was full of errors. Most of your errors will be clear and easy to fix, because you simply didn't see them while you were writing. If you could see my mistakes, it will be easy to see your own as well.
Another important thing to remember is the fact that your own writing is often more difficult to correct that those of others. The reason for this is the content. You know what you meant when you were writing. The same will not necessarily be the case for your friends. What I'm trying to tell you here is that you should keep your audience in mind. Usually when we write, we are writing for someone besides ourselves. The point of your piece now was to tell somebody about something important to yourself. When writing for another person, the most important thing is clarity.…
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