To finish up the work with our first writing piece, I show students the last phase of the Writing Process: Publishing. I'll quickly model this by writing the first page of my Published piece. On a clean sheet of paper, I write my Title at the top, a page number on the bottom left (or right) corner, and skip lines. Once I reach the bottom of this page, I tell students that I'll finish my Published draft for homework.
To allow students a chance to Publish their first piece, I give 30-40 minutes of work time in class. I tell students, "This needs to be the best version of your story. If you've finished Editing, you're ready to Publish. If you haven't, continue working where you left off. If you're not finished by the end of class, please have it finished by the beginning of class tomorrow."
During this chunk of work time, I can assess where students are in the writing process and provide writing conferences as needed. After 15-20 minutes, I'll write the work we've done for this first piece on the board:
- Drafting: First draft, skip lines, ink only, front side only
- Revising: Titles, Main Idea
- Editing: Edit Passes for Capitals (at the beginning of each sentence), Periods (at the end of each sentence), Spelling, and Indenting Paragraphs
- Publishing: Final draft, skip lines, ink only, best version
Then, I'll explain to students, "In order for your first piece to be counted on time and complete, I need to see 'proof' that you have followed the steps I've shown you in class. This list has everything I'm looking for. Take a few minutes to write this list down. Tomorrow, when you come to class, I'll ask you to spread this work out on your desks. I'll count work that is finished and complete. Be ready." This list will serve as the cover sheet for our work, and I'll have students literally check off each step they've completed.
Checking for Completion
On the next day of class, I ask students to spread out their work for their first piece on their desks. I use a clip-board with a spreadsheet that includes student names and today's date. I check off those students who have proof of following the writing process using each strategy I've taught them. I simply write a Y for Yes (followed the writing process and work is complete), or an N for No (skipped steps or work is incomplete). Then I ask the student when he/she believes this work will be complete and I'll write this "new" date down. Obviously, the date the student chooses must be reasonable based on the amount of work he/she has left to do. If it's not, we negotiate a new deadline.
It is then the student's responsibility to show me his/her completed work. If the student meets this "new" deadline, I don't count this piece late. If the student misses this first deadline that he/she chose, I count the work late and make a notation of this in my grade-book.
As I walk around checking student work, students who are ready to move on begin writing their 2nd piece. I remind them of the Topic T-Chart and give them the categories for it. Then I ask them to review their notes about choosing good topics and how to use the Action-Feeling-Setting. Since they've already been through this process once, they can use their first piece for reference. Those students who are behind may continue working where they left off.
Eventually, they will place this first piece in a writing portfolio folder, which I provide for them. For now, I'll have them keep this piece in their writing notebook and advise them not to lose it. In my class, any lost work must be re-done.
With this first piece, I'm simply looking for students to follow the writing process using the strategies I've shown them. Our goal is to get through this piece as quickly as we can so we can move onto the next piece and through the writing process again. I like to try to get this first piece completed by Friday of the first week of school, but as I've written this series of posts, the time frame equals 6 days. To cut this down to make a Friday deadline, I can always cut one strategy in Revising and one type of correction in Editing.
As we move through the school year, I'll add Assessing as the last phase in the writing process. Typically, we begin Assessing writing during 2nd quarter once we've had the chance to write 3-5 pieces. During this phase, I'll begin working with students to create assessment criteria, writing rubrics, and model Assessing with high, medium, and low quality student samples from former students.
Through the Writing Process
Moving through the writing process as many times as we can throughout the school year in a writer's workshop setting allows my students many opportunities to be exposed to the strategies good writers use in each phase. It also gives me opportunities to help design instruction to best meet the skill levels and needs of my students while covering required state standards, preparing students for standardized students, and meeting the required literacy initiatives our school district has established.
In my experiences, some of the results that come out of approaching writing instruction this way include: improved student writing, improved writing skills, increased effort, a sense of ownership, and improved confidence. But the best results are the times when students go above and beyond my expectations and are willing to share their accomplishments with their peers. When they see begin to see themselves (and their classmates) as "real" writers that's work we can all be proud of.
If you're interested in learning more about setting up Writer's Workshop in your classroom, see Welcome to Writer's Workshop.
Portions of this article are © Copyright 1995-2012 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc., and are used by permission. For more information, and free teaching materials, visit www.ttms.org or contact Margot Lester at firstname.lastname@example.org.