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October 8, 2009 Process Writing Basics for Primary Grades By Eric Antuna
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    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!


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


    • chart paper

    • writing markers

    • blank white paper for each student

    • pencils and green, red, and yellow crayons

    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.


    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! 


    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!  



      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.


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


      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!





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