First of all, congratulations to Tracy, winner of the Trick o’ Teach Giveaway!
This week my students and I are doing writing workshop. When I do my first essay with my grade twelves, I take them through a slow and methodical approach to writing.
It’s no secret that many students start writing an essay the night before it is due. I want to show them that by taking their time, and going through the writing process, they will make great strides in their writing and produce an essay they can be super proud of.
We start with pre-writing with a few fun exercises designed to show them the power of spending sometime developing ideas before they actually start writing. Then I want them to write a rough draft. They are writing a persuasive research essay, but I want the first draft written with no research. This is for two reasons: first of all, I want them to choose a topic that they are passionate about and that they know enough about to write a first draft without outside info. More importantly, though, I want them to understand that research is used to support their points, not as an end in itself. By doing it this way, I tend to get fewer papers that are just a regurgitation of someone else’s ideas.
My students will be coming to me today with their rough drafts in hand and I will be doing some mini-lessons on paraphrasing and embedding quotations. Their next task is to find research to back up their ideas and then to write a second draft. Once that is done, I will do mini-lessons each day on different components of good writing: using transitions, adding variety, choosing the best word, etc. After each lesson, they will revise their essays, and get some peer feedback.
In the end, they will pass in their good copy, as well as a folder full of their drafts. The most important part of their folder will be their self-evaluation, where they reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the essay and the effectiveness of following the process.
I’m usually pretty happy with the end result. I wish I could take it this slow every time, but it’s my hope that by showing my students the power of process, that they will take a slower more thoughtful approach to their writing.
If you’d like to check out the lessons I use for this unit, you can find them here, by clicking on the images: