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Activities for the Writing Development Stages

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

The writing process is an essential unit for Language Arts teachers. This lesson describes some creative strategies to ensure your students are learning the stages of writing development.

The Writing Process

Writing is not something to begin on a whim. If your students try to jump in without preparation, it is unlikely they will produce great pieces of writing. However, creating various activities to help students through all the stages of the writing process can help prevent this from happening.

There are many stages of writing development, but for simplicity's sake, let's look at it in three main stages: prewriting, drafting and publishing. Prewriting refers to preparing and planning to write. Producing a rough draft occurs during the drafting stage, and publishing involves editing, revising and creating the final copy.

Let's look at some creative activities you can use in the classroom for each stage of writing.

Prewriting Activities

The onset of a writing assignment can be a very overwhelming concept to many students. Most students want to skip right to the drafting stage, which usually leads to choppy, unorganized writing. However, walking students through some prewriting activities can prevent this.

Let's use a sample writing assignment to see how prewriting can be of use. Imagine your students are asked to write an adventure story of a knight during the Middle Ages. The first step for many writing assignments is brainstorming, which involves writing down any and all ideas that come to mind about a general topic. These ideas can then be organized with the use of a web. For example, students could create webs with the topic of a knight. Students can add branches connecting everything that comes to mind with regard to knights. For additional variety, group students together to create one large web.

Not exactly the right type of storm for prewriting
brainstorm

After brainstorming, students can use their webs to complete free-writing. This process requires continuous writing about anything that comes to mind during a specific time limit. Looking over their brainstorming ideas about medieval knights, students can free-write and take those ideas in any direction. Free-writing will help your students explore different ideas about what they can write about for their actual assignments. If free-writing is new to your students, giving them a guiding prompt can help ease them into the process. For instance, ask them to write from the perspective of the knight during a battle with a dragon. Then have another free-write from the perspective of the dragon.

The perspective of the princess might explain why the dragon has no arms!
medieval knight

Prewriting is essential to producing structured, well-written stories. Set your students up for success with creative prewriting activities.

Drafting

Once your students have completed some prewriting activities, move onto the drafting stage. The goal of this step is to have a rough draft, or a sloppy copy. Using their ideas from the brainstorming and free-writing activities, students can create outlines that detail the plots of their stories. Outlines should include details for the beginning, middle and end of the story. This is usually an individual process, but a great way to introduce different ideas is through peer reviews. Peer reviews require a classmate to read through another student's ideas and give feedback. For instance, if the battle with the dragon comes at the beginning of the outline, one peer might suggest moving it to the end for an exciting climax to the story.

Once an outline is created, have your students begin the actual writing of the rough draft. One idea to help students who may struggle is to chunk, or break the writing into smaller sections. First, ask for a few paragraphs to specifically introduce the main characters and setting. Continue chunking the writing until the whole rough draft is complete. Throughout this process, feel free to allow for multiple peer reviews to provide each student with plenty of feedback. However, be sure to model what a proper peer review should include. Have students complete a checklist or some other paperwork so that each student gets a meaningful, and constructive review.

Using feedback from peers, the sloppy copy should now be ready for the final stage.

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