Process Writing Basics for Primary Grades

By Eric Antuna on October 8, 2009

I have found over the past few years that process writing for some of my students has been a somewhat painful process. However, with some practice and consistent modeling, it doesn't have to be! 

Writing may seem like an abstract concept for some students. When students are expected to write, revise, edit, and proofread, some of them want to run for the hills! If your students are like mine, they want to write as quickly as possible or they have the canned response, "I can't think of anything to write about!" So, to help them begin to love the process of writing, I made it my personal goal to make sure we go through the process at least two or three times a month.

My school uses Thinking Maps and Step Up to Writing as organizers for thinking, learning and writing. The following lesson plan format included here shows you what I would do each day. This is not a definitive answer, its more of a skeleton that you can tailor to meet your student needs. If you have any ideas to make it better, PLEASE let me know!

OBJECTIVE

Students will learn how to write by going through the process of writing from prewriting to drafting to publishing. 

MATERIALS

  • chart paper
  • writing markers
  • blank white paper for each student
  • pencils and green, red, and yellow crayons

DIRECTIONS
Day 1: Brainstorming

  • Begin by giving students a topic to write about. This could be a theme that you're working on from your basal reading program or a science or social studies topic. 
  • Have a simple discussion about the topic. 
  • Hand each student a blank piece of paper.
  • Using your favorite brainstorming organizer as the students are giving you topics, write them down. Have students write down they like the most.
  • Model, model, model!  
  • Either collect the papers (my choice), or have them save it in their writing folders.

IMG_0941

Day 2: Organizing

  • Have students choose three main ideas that they are going to write about. 
  • Have them circle those main ideas in yellow.
  • Ask students to flip over their brainstorming paper and accordion fold it.
  • With their green, yellow, and red crayons, have them color a dot pattern of: Green, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Red, Green on the accordion fold.
  • Have students write the green topic in a complete sentence at the top (this could be the same for everyone) of the accordion paper next to the first green dot.
  • Model, model, model! 
IMG_0942


Day 3: Organizing Continued
  • Have students create a complete sentence for each of the yellow main ideas that they chose from the other side of their organizer.
  • Continue the process of choosing the yellow main ideas and writing in a complete sentences on the according folded side. 
  • Next, have students give you a DETAIL sentence (the red after each of the yellow main ideas) about the yellow MAIN IDEA sentence that they wrote. The idea is that students stop and give a detail from the main idea. 
  • Model, model, model!  
IMG_0945 IMG_0948



Day 4: Drafting
  • Have students take their accordion folded paper and move into drafting their piece onto lined paper.
  • As they read their papers, they may rewrite for clarity and check for spelling errors.  At this point you can spot check for mistakes in capitalization or punctuation and do a mini-lesson if necessary.
  • Model, model, model!  
IMG_0957 IMG_0958



Day 5: Proofreading/Publishing
  • Have students swap their papers with a peer and read for clarity.
  • Students may rewrite piece onto "fancy" paper, or publish it in another way.
  • Model, model, model!  

IMG_0949

SUPPORTING ALL LEARNERS
Allow students that find it hard to concentrate to work on their own once they know the process. Encourage struggling students to copy the model you used with the class. While the rest of the class is working independently, take time to work with individual students that need more support.

LESSON EXTENSION

Have students publish in interesting ways: podcast, commercial on TV, publish in a book, etc.

RELATED RESOURCES


IMG_0966 IMG_0962


I hope that this lesson plan helps you out when you teach process writing. Please feel free to share your ideas and/or twists on the process! And remember: model, model, model! 


Thanks for reading!


Eric 

Comments

Eric, Thanks so much for such a great idea. Finding a way to teach first graders how to write has been a real struggle, especially when many of my students struggle to write their complete name at the beginning of school!! This has been a great way for them to organize their ideas and take the writing process one step at a time.

Karen-

It's my pleasure, thank you for the comment! I'm so glad that to share this - process writing in the primary grades can be so overwhelming to many students and just as you said, some coming in not knowing how to write their name! Thank you for all that you do for your students, our future needs it!

Thanks!

-Eric

Thanks for the info. I am using this for a student who was not successful on the TAKS test Writing portion last year. It is really helpful in tutoring her.

Patrese-

Please let us know how it goes! Thanks for the comment!

-Eric

It was wonderful to see how I could adapt some of Eric’s writing suggestions for my Basic Skills and English as a Second Language students. They were the same concepts I am teaching in the upper elementary grades, but shown in an easier format for those struggling pupils…

Sharon-

I'm so glad that you can adapt this! I really hope it helps. Please let me know if you have any successes to share with others! Thanks!

-Eric

Thanks for the great idea of the paper pad being always on the wall... It has helped me as a teacher to remember to show that writing is a process....even though I personally tend to forget that!

Keep the great ideas coming!

Jacinto-

Thanks for the comment! I am so glad that you brought up that writing is a process. So often nowadays we just site down to write be it an email, text, or letter - we just write. Teaching our students these invaluable tools will hopefully transfer into long term memory and allow students to do this organization in their head so that, as 21st century thinkers, they are ready write when the need arise.

Thanks for sharing!

-Eric

After your great lesson of modeling, and when your students are ready for more independent work...I buy those 1/2 inch stickers that are green, red, yellow and blue. Then I would say, Who's ready for a green sentence? Here's the sticker!!! and we would slowly build a topic. Then, 'who's ready for a yellow?' Everyone loves stickers and folding paper. And then a red sticker sentence. I love the idea of crayon colored sentences and then transfering the colors into catagories.

Camille-

Thanks! I love that extension - it'll work really well with transitioning kids into independent work. I can't wait to try it!

Thanks again!

-Eric

Hi Eric!

I think you are "write" hahaha about teachers modeling the writing process. It is crucial that students see firsthand what it all looks like. It can be quite frustrating to watch children of this age struggle when attempting to put their thoughts into writing. Thank you for sharing your lesson plan for successful writers!

Becky-

Thanks for the comment! Writing can be such a joy, but to many students it's like pulling teeth. Thanks for the encouragement and if you have any ideas, please share!

-Eric

Eric, Our school district uses Think Maps too. Even if I don't have the kids use the completed maps for a writing idea, they are great for developing vocabulary.

Heather-

I totally agree! They are a great way to develop vocabulary and practice processing skills. Thanks for the comment!

-Eric

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