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  • purpose for writing, students are compelled toWriting find a way to write appropriately and effectively.Writing is a complex process that allows writers to  Students talk as a part of their writing process.explore thoughts and ideas, and to make themvisible and concrete. Writing and thinking are From pre-writing to final draft, talking about theirinterwoven. Thinking is the foundation of writing and, writing is central to students learning about theirbecause thinking is central to learning, students who writing abilities and learning from the writing ofare able to make their thought processes concrete others.through writing enhance learning capabilities.  Students write frequently and regularly.Writing encourages thinking and learning for thefollowing reasons: Regular and frequent practice is necessary to becoming an effective writer. 1. Writing motivates Writing is a way of crossing communication. the boundaries of time and (Adapted from Haley-James, 1982. Used with culture, reaching those not permission of the National Council of Teachers of present when the piece is English.) written. Writing generates discussion through peer conferences or sharing The Writing Process activities. “The process approach to writing focuses upon the exploration and awareness of what writers actually 2. Writing focuses Writers must think to decide do and what choices they make when they write” and extends what to say and how to say (Saskatchewan Education, 1989, p. 23). Teachers thought. it (e.g., organize thoughts, and students who view writing as a process make word choices, add or recognize the following: delete ideas) and identify audience, purpose, and  Writing is recursive in nature; the writer moves point of view. Writing within the process as necessary, perhaps from encourages the pre-writing to drafting, then back to pre-writing development of more again, then forward to editing and back to drafting complex thought as ideas before polishing a piece for sharing or are analyzed and publication. evaluated.  Both the process and product of writing should be 3. Writing makes When thought is written assessed and evaluated, allowing students and thought available down, ideas can be teachers to focus on and assess the learning that for reflection. reconsidered, added to, takes place during writing, rather than trying to and rearranged. ascertain what has been learned from the finished product only.Writing is most likely to encourage thinking and  Writing abilities are largely acquired by practice.learning when: While instruction may be required about some writing skills and knowledge, it must be Students view writing as a process. conducted within the context of students’ writing and should not be broken into isolated sub-skills, By recognizing that writing is a recursive process which are less likely to transfer to the students’ and that every writer uses the process in a writing. (It should also be kept in mind that many different way, students experience less pressure writers attribute their skill to frequent and varied to “get it right the first time” and are more willing reading.) to experiment, revise, and edit.  Encouraging students to express their ideas and Students decide what to write about and have meaning in the form of whole “text” is preferable their own reasons for writing. to focusing upon single, isolated parts of language. By choosing topics from students’ own experiences and interests, students get a sense  Creating meaning takes time and cannot be done of ownership; this sense of ownership promotes on command. commitment and continuing interest. When students determine their own audience andSaskatchewan Ministry of Education 1
  •  Although writing is a solitary activity for most After students have generated some ideas, students writers, the social aspects of collaboration make must decide what they will say about their chosen writing partners appropriate for Middle Level topic. Students develop an initial plan for the product students. For some students, however, writing they will compose. As they do so, they consider the will always be private and solitary, and teachers purpose, audience, point of view, and format should be sensitive to this when planning group because these elements have implications for both activities. the planning and the drafting of the written product. Some purposes for pre-writing activities are asDuring the writing process, students engage in pre- follows.writing, planning, drafting, and post-writing activities.The writing process is described in the paragraphs To develop an initial plan for drafting:that follow. Using such structures as outlines, story frames,Pre-Writing (BEFORE): A Place to Start diagrams, charts, and concept webs, students organize the information they have generated duringPre-writing, the first phase of the writing process, pre-writing.begins long before the writer puts thoughts intowriting. The experiences, observations, and To consider purpose:interactions that students have prior to entering theclassroom have an impact upon what they write and Writers write to express ideas, feelings, andhow they write it. Within the classroom, pre-writing opinions, and students must ask themselves, “Whatprompts and activities can be integrated into the is my purpose for writing this piece?” Somewriting process by teachers as scaffolds to help purposes for student writing are:students generate ideas for writing and to practisethe thinking skills inherent in the activity.  to express personal feelings or viewpoints  to imagine “What if ...?”To initiate thinking and generate possible writing  to entertain and/or amusetopics, it is important for students to explore ideas for  to describewriting topics using a variety of pre-writing strategies  to inform or explainsuch as the following:  to persuade or convince  to request brainstorming  to inquire or question constructing thought webs and graphic  to clarify thinking. organizers, using software or other tools interviewing a person knowledgeable about the To consider audience: topic observing nature and other daily events Writers consider for whom they are writing, and engaging in peer or teacher-student discussions students must ask themselves, “Who is my intended and conferences audience?” Some possible audiences are: listening to music drawing on dreams and other images  familiar, known audiences such as friends, peers, reading about and researching the topic family, and teachers free writing or timed free writing about the topic  extended, known audiences such as community, viewing pictures, movies, documentaries, and student body, and local media other forms of visual text  extended, unknown audiences such as wider listing and categorizing information range of mass media and other publications. responding to a variety of texts role playing and using other drama techniques To consider point of view: asking the 5Ws – who, what, where, when, and why. Writers must determine which point of view their ideas or information will express, so students needPre-writing prompts or activities planned by the to ask themselves, “Who is telling thisteacher can serve as writing scaffolds for story/describing the events?” Some points of viewinexperienced writers who have difficulty accessing for student consideration are:their own feelings, ideas, experiences, andknowledge. Students who have a place to start are  physical point of view (i.e., where is the narrator inmore motivated to continue developing their ideas relation to the action?)and own writing voices.  objective and subjective point of view (i.e., what emotional involvement does the narrator have in relation to the situation?)2 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  •  personal point of view (i.e., who is the narrator of  Revisions can be made to words, sentences, the story?). The narrator may take a first person, paragraphs, or the whole piece (e.g., the writer third person, or an all-knowing omniscient point of may decide that the ideas would have more view. impact as poetry instead of prose).  Rereading and reflecting upon their own workTo decide what information will be gathered and how helps students to clarify meaning.it will most effectively be gathered:  Writing conferences with the teacher and peers about ideas and meaning can assist revision. Students who decide that they need to conduct interviews or go on field trips to gather To revise the draft for mechanical and conventional information should construct a list of questions, concerns that detract from and obscure meaning: while students who require library research need to decide the types of resources and references  Students edit for accuracy and intent as well as to consult. for obvious convention issues including usage, sentence structure, and word choice.To consider format: To focus purpose, audience, and point of view and Students use audience and purpose to determine to confirm appropriateness of format: format and genre. They have the opportunity to write in a variety of narrative, descriptive,  These variables, which were considered during expository, persuasive, script, and poetic formats. the planning stage, are confirmed and used to shape the draft.Drafting (DURING): A Time to Explore To confer with peers and the teacher:At this point in the process, the emphasis is oncontent and meaning rather than on mechanics and  Writing conferences are useful because theyconventions. This is the time for writers to get down provide an immediate audience for trying outtheir ideas and thoughts, composing rough drafts ideas.based upon pre-writing and planning activities and  A set of questions or a checklist can be used toconsiderations. As writers compose, they begin to assist writers and conference partners as theydetermine what to include and exclude, and make strive to help the writers make meaning clear.initial decisions about how these ideas will be Some suggestions for scaffolds at the draftingorganized. The following points describe the main stage include the following:purposes of drafting activities. o Post the major stages of the writing process (pre-writing, planning, drafting, post-writing) andTo produce a first, rough draft: brief information about each so that students can determine where they are at any time in the Students record their ideas rapidly in order to process. capture the essence of what students have to say. o Help students develop criteria or tips for writing Students make little or no attempt to revise or edit. a particular genre or format (e.g., poem, short Students explore a point of view and initial tone. story, script, letter), then post these on a Students focus on talking to the reader. bulletin board for reference as students write. o Set up a section of the classroom as a writingTo write subsequent drafts: reference area and make available language resources such as dictionaries, thesauri, and Redrafting is often accomplished by crossing out, language study texts. Encourage students to adding, and rearranging ideas. use these as needed individually or with peers Word processing programs enable students to and the teacher. add, delete, and rearrange portions of text efficiently. Post-drafting and Revising (AFTER): By reflecting upon their own writing and through Preparing to Go Public conferences with peers and the teacher, students receive constructive feedback and support that When students have an authentic audience and help to shape their writing. purpose, they want to rework their written drafts, polishing them for presentation or publication. GoingTo revise the draft for content and clarity of public means taking a huge risk; the student’s self-meaning: esteem is on the line, so the decision about how and with whom to share the writing must include the Students reorganize and sequence relevant ideas student writer. Teachers may encourage students to and add or delete details as students strive to share certain pieces or determine the number of make their meaning clear.Saskatchewan Ministry of Education 3
  • pieces that students are required to share or publish may be useful to address individual student needswithin a set time period. Some purposes for post- and abilities. Students should be involved in makingdrafting activities are listed below. choices about which of the students’ written pieces become part of personal portfolios.To prepare a final, polished draft: The Language Cues andStudents proofread for accuracy and correctness aswell as appearance. Students write in legible Conventions in Writtenhandwriting or use a word processing program to Compositionprepare a polished written work. Effective writers consider and attend to the languageSome suggestions for post-writing scaffolds include cues and conventions before, during, and afterthe following: composing. Writers need to keep each of the language cueing systems in mind: Discuss or develop with students criteria for polished pieces. Post these criteria or provide  The pragmatic cues and conventions as writers them as handouts for students to refer to as consider the audience and purpose, and the level needed. of language that would be appropriate in the Provide opportunities for students to use communication. computer word processing programs to create  The textual cues and conventions as writers final drafts. choose a type of text to write and organize their Have students share their final compositions with ideas into an appropriate format within that text. classmates or with others in the community such In addition, writers need to ensure that their ideas as younger children or elderly people. are connected using the appropriate transitional Post or publish students’ work in the classroom words. and provide opportunities, when appropriate, for  The syntactical cues and conventions as writers students to submit to publishers outside the craft sentences of varying patterns, lengths, and classroom. complexity to achieve particular purposes.  The semantic and lexical cues and conventionsTo decide if and how the written work will be shared as writers choose their words carefully andor published: consider their denotation and connotation, and the effect they will have on the audience.Sharing provides students with an immediate  The graphophonic aspects of words as writersaudience. Some examples include the author’s spell words correctly.chair, which provides opportunity for students to  The other cues and conventions that ensureshare their writing aloud with the whole class; compositions are effective including handwritingsharing in small groups or with a partner; and using legibility, spacing, layout, and other visual cuesbulletin board space assigned to a specific genre or and conventions.to a class of students. At times, students should beprovided with opportunities to decide if students wishto share their written work, and whether they will Supporting the Writing Strandshare in pairs, in small groups, with the whole class, It is important to create an atmosphere that allowsor with a relevant community audience that has a and encourages students to feel safe taking risks inparticular interest in the work. order to develop a community of writers who support each other and share with each other (the teacher is Students may choose to publish their writing in also a part of this community). Let students help set such formats as: guidelines and rules to make the environment safe o class booklets (e.g., no put-downs). o school or local newspapers o yearbook Desks can be arranged in clusters or tables can be o writing contests used to accommodate four to six students. On a o magazines (e.g., On the Horizon) specified shelf, resources can be provided that o e-zines. assist students as they write (e.g., dictionaries, language study texts, writing models, and samplesTo decide if the written work will be placed in the of student writing). Areas of the classroom can bestudent’s assessment and evaluation portfolio: designated for specific activities (e.g., peerTeachers can negotiate with students to generate conferences, writing and publishing tasks).guidelines about the number and variety of piecesthat students are required to place in their portfolios The teacher plays an interactive role and buildsfor assessment and evaluation purposes. Contracts scaffolds as needed. The teacher models the4 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  • various writing formats and conventions of the _ Did you use the best signal words or are therewriting process, and provides the needed help as better ones?each student is writing. _ Does the paragraph have a good closing sentence to let you know the paragraph isMiddle Level English language arts teachers can ended?support the writing strand by: A Sample Cinquain Writing Frame1. making writing a natural and integral part of each unit Line 1: one word (noun) giving the poem’s subject2. modelling and discussing effective writing Line 2: two words (adjectives) describing the subject behaviours and strategies Line 3: three words (verbs) describing actions3. planning lessons that ensure students achieve associated with the subject the outcomes for the writing strand Line 4: four words expressing feelings or thoughts4. supporting and guiding students as they develop about the subject writing skills and strategies. Line 5: one word (noun) giving a synonym for the subject.Each of these four points is described more fully inthe paragraphs that follow. Finally, help students communicate their ideas in a variety of forms in each unit of study. A sample of1. Make writing a natural and integral part of possible writing forms that might be explored iseach unit. found on page 13.Students need to use and explore a wide variety of 2. Model and discuss effective writingforms and to understand how they are structured. behaviours and strategies.Recipes, for example, are different from poems orletters; stories are different than scripts. Middle Level As a member of the community of writers, thestudents need to write across functions and forms. teacher also writes and shares his/her writing withIn order to do so, students need models and the students. The teacher should not just talk aboutmodelling. Students benefit from exploring a variety the writing process but model (demonstrate) it usingof models before using a particular form. Students the chalkboard, chart paper, overhead projector,can, for example, read a poem and then write their white board, or other tool. Talking, problem solving,own poems using the form and a similar idea or and working through the steps and processes that atheme that was expressed in the model poem. writer might use to write for a particular purpose in a particular form for a particular audience helpWriting Frames students understand the strategies that effective writers use. As the students watch, listen, question,Writing frames help students understand the form and suggest, the teacher can explain the variousrequirements. decisions that are being made and how to attend to the conventions of writing (e.g., starting a paragraph,A Sample Expository (Explanatory) Paragraph starting a sentence, choosing the right word).Writing Frame1. Decide on a topic, purpose, and audience. Note:2. List the main steps or points that you feel you Guiding students to express themselves in need to explain in an order that is logical. written texts is a major challenge at all levels and3. Start your paragraph with a topic sentence or in all areas of study. The phases of the writing introductory sentence. Sometimes a sentence or process need to be taught and practised. This two may be used to catch the reader’s attention does not happen in one lesson or in one grade before you write your actual topic sentence. level. It is developmental and continuous. It4. Select the signal words that will help you indicate requires knowledgeable teachers to help order (e.g., first, next, finally). students grow in an environment that requires5. Expand your steps or points into sentences, risk taking and support. adding whatever explanations are necessary.6. Write a good closing sentence to end your paragraph. Strategies Students Can Use Before DraftingExplanatory Paragraph Checklist What before drafting activities and strategies stimulate the students’ interests, prior knowledge_ Is the topic sentence clearly worded? and experiences, and help students consider where_ Are the steps or points in the correct order? to get ideas and information?_ Are the steps or points clear and easy to follow?Saskatchewan Ministry of Education 5
  • Students need strategies to: In the after phase, teachers consider: consider a possible message  Will students have adequate time to revise their consider the purpose and audience(s) work? consider specific ideas and information that might  What specific activities or guidelines help be included students in their revisions? consider possible form  How will students be motivated to genuinely collect and focus the ideas and information rethink and reshape their work (not just recopy)? plan and organize for drafting.  How will students receive feedback?  What mini-lessons are needed in this phase?In the before phase, teachers consider: Students need time, guidance, and coaching in each What is the task? Is it reasonable, feasible, and phase of the writing process. When students write, realistic? they must “fit what they know to the needs of What prior thinking and experiences should the another person” and to the constraints of their students have had? purpose and form (Flower & Hayes, 1981). They What is the time frame for the task? What must attend not only to “what” to say but also “how” resources, if any, are needed? to say it. As a result, students must: What criteria will students be given (or generate with you) for evaluation?  employ a wide range of strategies as students What mini-lessons are needed in this phase? represent, speak, and write  use different process elements to communicateStrategies to Use During Drafting with different audiences for a variety of purposes  apply their knowledge of language structures andWhat strategies enable students to get their ideas conventions to create print and non-print textsand information into a draft format that can be  adjust their use of visual, spoken, and writtenreviewed, expanded, and enhanced? Students need language (including the language registers andto have strategies to: conventions) to communicate effectively with their intended audience(s) for different purposes. create drafts and experiment with possible product(s) Key Questions When Writing use language and its conventions to construct Middle Level students can learn to ask key meaning questions such as the following before, during, and self-monitor, self-correct, and use a variety of fix- after writing. up strategies confer with others. Some Questions for Students to Consider Before Writing.In the during phase, teachers consider: Do I: What amount of time (either in or out of class) do the students need?  consider why I am going to write (purpose, Do the students have an opportunity to generate audience, point of view, occasion) more than one draft?  think about what message I want to communicate What provisions are made for students to give  know what form (e.g., poem, narrative) I am and receive feedback on their drafts? going to use and how I am going to organize my What mini-lessons are needed in this phase? ideas in that form?Strategies to Use After Drafting Some Questions for Students to Consider During Drafting.What strategies help students review and revise Do I:their message and share it with an audience?Students need strategies to:  select and develop ideas from my pre-writing into a first draft revise for meaning, organization, sentence structure and flow, word choice, usage,  focus my purpose, audience, point of view, and mechanics, and appearance confirm appropriateness of format polish and share the final product with the  write subsequent drafts for clarity of meaning intended audience(s) (e.g., add, delete, rearrange, or expand ideas)? assess and evaluate success.6 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  • Some Questions for Students to Consider After F (Format): Which format should I use whileDrafting. communicating?Do I: T (Topic): What is the topic? Is it sufficiently focused? write a final, polished draft in legible handwriting or use a word processing program S (Strong Verb) (purpose): What am I trying to do in edit for content and organization this piece (e.g., convince, request, prove, complain, proofread for usage, spelling, capitalization, and persuade, pretend, entertain)? punctuation decide if and how the work will be shared and/or For example, “as a Grade 8 student, write a letter published? convincing one member of your community that he or she needs to produce less waste.” Writing and Plagiarism As students become more independent, they can Middle Level students need help understanding determine and create their own RAFTS (Adler & that copying someone else’s work word for word Vendeventer, 1989). The following chart illustrates a or “borrowing” someone else’s ideas or language few of the possibilities. is plagiarism. Students need to learn how to borrow ideas honestly and how to acknowledge Topic: What am I writing about? each and every source. To help Middle Level Possible Possible Possible Possible students avoid plagiarism, teachers can: Roles Audiences Purposes Formats  design writing assignments with clear and Self Self Narrate Journal specific expectations and models Parent Editor Support Letter  support students in using their own words and Teacher Immigrant Inform Script finding their own “voice” in writing Character Architect Deny Report  provide adequate instruction on how to Coach Author Brag Poem incorporate others’ ideas into own writing by modelling how to quote directly, paraphrase When Middle Level students approach writing tasks, acceptably, and cite sources using an in-text students need to draw upon a “tool kit” of cognitive method of citation strategies that can be used in the planning, drafting,  teach students how to provide a list of revising, and presenting phases. Teachers in every references grade and area of study need to help students use  give students enough time to do an assignment these strategies. Students need to learn how to use and to attend to each phase of the writing a process and need to be coached through the process. phases of the writing tasks.3. Plan lessons that ensure students achieve the With good modelling and coaching, most studentsoutcomes for the writing strand. can create their own compositions using some key knowledge, skills, and strategies associated withAsking students to simply “tell” something or “write” composing. During the process, students can learna paragraph or poem usually does not result in to use the language conventions for identifiedeffective, meaningful communication. Teachers must purposes.create clear, focused, and inviting assignments thatgive students a clear reason for communicating to a Mini-lessonsparticular audience. Most writing lessons involve mini-lessons, sustainedTeachers need to give students meaningful and writing time, peer and teacher conferences, andadequate prompts. Whenever possible, these sharing. The decision about what to teach in a mini- lesson depends upon the students’ needs andprompts should help the students know the answers interests.to the following questions (RAFTS): PlanningR (Role): Who am I? What is my role? Different types of communication require differentA (Audience): To whom am I communicating? pre-writing strategies. Teachers have to provideShould I use a formal or informal stance? adequate modelling and allow sufficient time for students to generate ideas, focus them, and develop a plan. In this phase, teachers have to consider carefully the assignment and where the students areSaskatchewan Ministry of Education 7
  • going to get their ideas (e.g., experiences, interview, and identify specific revision focuses that truly resultdiscussion, reading, brainstorming). Murray (1982) in more than superficial fix-ups is critical in thisbelieves that 70% or more of time should be spent in phase.the planning phase. In the revising phase, teachers:In the pre-writing phase, teachers:  teach students how to revise for meaning, help students consider a possible message organization, sentence structure and flow, word (mini-lessons include creating maps, choice, usage, mechanics, and appearance storyboarding, clustering/webbing) (possible mini-lessons include making help students consider their purpose and substantive rather than minor changes, the audience(s) (e.g., exchanging information, revision triangle, layered revision, using the pass persuasion) system, check and question marks, author reads help students consider specific ideas that might aloud to listener, reader reads author’s paper be included (mini-lessons include focusing key aloud to author, proofreading backwards) ideas and supporting details)  teach students how to polish and share/present help students consider possible forms the final product with/to the intended audience help students plan and organize for drafting (possible mini-lessons include concept of (possible mini-lessons include planning and author’s chair, all about the author page, reading organizing). composition aloud, displaying, submitting for publication, a “read-around” party).Drafting Graves (1994, 2004) notes that teachers need toWriting is a generating process and students listen to, observe, and note what students are doingapproach their first drafts in different ways. Some with the language. He also notes that teachers needstudents formulate a clear plan or outline while to know when to step in, when to teach, and when toothers simply dive in and begin to create. The key expect more of their students. Teachers need to beduring this phase is to ensure students capture their proactive in teaching students how to revise andideas as quickly and efficiently as possible, using how to spell, as well as teaching other valuabledrafting strategies that work best. conventions and important tools that writers use to revise and polish their texts. “There is a time andIn the drafting phase, teachers: place for brevity and coding” but students also need to know how to write in a more standard fashion. teach students how to create drafts and experiment with possible forms (possible mini- Middle Level teachers can help students keep the lessons include creating several leads; focused focus on revising for ideas first by making content “quickwrites,” keeping focus on content; adding, the repetitive most important aspect of revision. deleting, rearranging ideas and details). teach students how to use language and its A Sample Revision Frame and Checklist conventions to construct students’ message (mini-lessons include levels of usage; using the Step 1: Attend to Content appropriate language including tone, style, and __ Am I saying what I want and/or need to say? language for intended audience(s) and purpose; __ Are my ideas sufficiently explained or described? writing beginnings and endings; writing effective __ Are there some gaps in my thinking/writing? and varied sentences; using strong verbs). Step 2: Attend to Organization teach students how to self-monitor, self-correct, __ Are my ideas in the best order? and use a variety of fix-up strategies (possible __ Does each paragraph begin effectively (e.g., start mini-lessons include double spacing, pausing with a humourous anecdote, a personal and rereading, crossing out, inserting, starting experience, or point of the paragraph)? over, pausing and reflecting). teach students how to confer with others and Step 3: Attend to Usage, Sentence Structure, Word revise work with writing partners (possible mini- Choice, and Mechanics lessons include conferencing, giving constructive feedback, making changes based on feedback). Usage __ Is standard language used?Revising and Presenting SentencesRevision occurs during the drafting stage and __ Are all the sentences clear?whenever the student is ready to polish and get __ Are there any sentence fragments or run-ons?something ready for sharing. Helping students use __ Does each verb agree with its subject?8 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  • __ Are verb tenses consistent and correct? extended student-teacher conferences and for peer__ Have double negatives been avoided? conferences.__ Have frequently confused words (such as affect and effect) been used correctly? ChecklistsSpelling Checklists may be helpful to students as they reflect__ Are all words, including names, spelled correctly? upon their own writing and as they confer with peers and the teacher. Conference checklists serve asPunctuation and Capitalization scaffolds as students practise talking about writing.__ Are commas used correctly? As well, conference checklists inform the teacher__ Does every sentence end with the correct about the nature of peer interaction during writing punctuation mark? conferences.Handwriting Middle Level students also benefit from writing task__ Are the letters legible? guidelines. For example,__ Are there appropriate spaces between letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs? A Sample Student Writing Task ChecklistThe mechanics of written language are important Task: Writing a Fablebut need to be kept in context and taught in an Writer:integrated and meaningful way. Prompt: You are a children’s writer. Write a fable using animals as characters to teach an importantWithin the framework of a balanced language arts moral to an Elementary Level student.program, Middle Level students need explicitinstruction to learn to spell (Graham & Harris, 1994). Have students note the “Date Completed” for eachPoor spelling can influence perceptions about a of the following tasks.student’s competence as a writer and interfere withthe execution of other composing processes Pre-Writing(Graham, 1990; Scardamalia, Bereiter, & Goleman,1982). Having to switch attention during composing __ Read five fables and took notes in my reading logto mechanics, such as considering how to spell a __ Drew a story cluster of one fableparticular word, can cause a student to forget __ Identified the characteristics of fablessomething s/he had planned to say but had not yet __ Brainstormed possible morals for a fablewritten down. Difficulties mastering spelling skills can __ Planned a fable using a story cluster maplead children to avoid writing and to develop a mindset that they cannot write (Graham, 1999). DraftingHandwriting is a basic communication skill that __ Marked paper as ROUGH DRAFT and wrote onallows students to communicate with ease and every other line using story cluster mapfluency. “Learning a consistent system of printing and __ Allowed a cooling-off periodcursive writing is as essential as it ever was, __ Read first draft and noted possible changes andespecially for young writers …” (Allen, 2003, p. 6). revision to storyThe lack of an automatic command of handwriting __ Wrote a second draft using suggestionscan inhibit students’ abilities to write. Students who __ Participated in a writing group and compared mymaster the mechanics of handwriting are happier to fable with list of characteristics of fableswrite, more expressive, and do a better job in content __ Made at least one revision(Olsen, 2003). According to Hoskisson and Tompkins(1987, p. 444), “Handwriting is best taught in separate Revisingperiods of direct instruction (isolation) and teachersupervised practice. As soon as skills are taught, they __ Had a conference with teacherare applied in real-life writing activities within the __ Shared draft with a peer using the P (Praise) Qclassroom (integration).” (Question) P (Polish) as a guide __ Edited fable using feedback and any additional4. Support and guide students as they develop ideaswriting skills and strategies. __ Proofread with a partner and corrected any spelling or other errorsDuring most of sustained writing time, the teacher __ Wrote the final copy in my best handwritingshould be circulating throughout the classroom, __ Added a title and an illustrationconducting brief informal conferences, and providinginstructional scaffolds for each student as needed.As well, the teacher’s role is to build in time forSaskatchewan Ministry of Education 9
  • Sharing As you write ...__ Shared fable with two other people (Person 1: __________ Person 2: __________) Ask yourself some of these questions (or have a__ Posted fable on classroom bulletin board conference partner ask them after reading the writing-in-progress):Writing Workshop  How do I feel about what I have written so far?Setting aside a block of time for writing by  What is good that I can enhance?establishing a writing workshop can accommodate  Is there anything about it that concerns me,the messy nature of writing and give the support that does not fit, or seems wrong?many Middle Level students require. Assigning a set  What surprises me? Where is it leading?time period, perhaps one day a week, for students to  What is my purpose?write in class and giving support to individuals and  What is the one most important thing that I amsmall groups of students during that time can make trying to convey?a difference. In the writing workshop approach, most  How can I build this idea? Are there places thatof the time (e.g., 30 minutes) is reserved for writing I wander away from my key idea?or writing-related activities such as pre-writing,  Who is my audience?drafting, researching, conferring, or preparing forpublication. Time can also be reserved for mini-  What might my readers think as they readlessons (5-10 minutes), a class survey or status through this piece?check to keep track of the students’ work and  What questions will they ask?progress (2-3 minutes), and sharing sessions (5  What will be their response to the differentminutes). The teacher’s role is to serve as a writing parts? To the whole?mentor and to act as a roving facilitator by helping  What might I do next? Would it help to tryeach student make the most out of each writing another draft? Talk to a peer? Talk to theproject. teacher? Check a resource book? Reread it aloud/silently? Read a published example of thisThe students’ success or failure in a workshop genre? Try the idea in a new genre? Keep ondepends on their abilities to manage time effectively writing?and to write. In the course of the writing workshop,students should be working through the phases ofthe writing process and may be: Conferences pre-writing by talking with one another about A writing conference is a conversation about writing writing ideas and possibilities – the author’s ideas, structures, successes, and choosing a topic and focus that fit the assignment difficulties. Conferences, in pairs or small groups, or interest students may or may not include the teacher. Writing exploring a topic and making plans conferences can take place at any time during the working alone on drafting and redrafting writing process. They may last only a few seconds as writers check on a certain writing concept or working in small editorial groups concern, or conferences may be extended conferencing with the teacher about specific conversations several minutes in length. To writing problems encourage effective writing conferences, Middle helping one another with problems Level teachers should establish an environment in revising and preparing for publication which students feel it is safe to take risks and where reading and sharing finished writing with small classroom procedures for conferencing are agreed groups or the whole class. upon by teacher and students.Writing workshops can focus on both writing for an Purposes of writing conferences include:assignment and writing for personal reasons.  to encourage writers to reflect, examine, andSelf-reflection helps students to improve their own evaluate their own writing – to “re-see” itwriting as well as to formulate specific questions that  to assist writers in improving the quality of workcan provide a focus for the peer or teacher writing  to engage students in talking in order to learnconference. A list of questions such as the following from themselves and others.may assist students as they reflect upon their ownwritten work. These questions may be provided by It is important that students recognize thatthe teacher or developed with students. conferencing about others’ writing does not mean that they are expected to fix it. Only the writer has the right and responsibility to make revisions and10 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  • clarify meaning. Questions are often the most helpfulfeedback, as they lead writers to reflect upon their Steps for a Peer Writing Conferencemeaning and craft. 1. The writer decides how the written work will beTeacher-Student Conferences shared. Will it be:  read silently by the conference partner(s)?While students are writing, the teacher can circulate  read aloud by the writer?throughout the classroom, conducting informal  read aloud by the conference partner(s)?conferences. During such conferences, the teacher  a combination of the above?spends only a few minutes with each student, askingquestions or building needed scaffolds so that 2. The writer identifies what aspects of the writtenstudents can continue writing. At other times, the work are the focus of the conference (e.g., theteacher can hold longer, extended conferences. beginning paragraph, figurative language).Effective questions can help the writer and lead toimproved written work. Questions can help writers to 3. The conference partner states at least:reflect upon their work:  one thing he/she considers that the writer has done well What is the part that you like best?  one thing he/she especially likes Does it say what you want it to say?  one suggestion that addresses the focus of What do you mean by …? the conference as identified by the writer. (It Where/when does your story take place? is useful to have students complete a written Are you satisfied with the beginning/ending? Why conference sheet to guide their responses, or why not? especially when the process is new to them.) Does this sentence/word/phrase make sense to you? 4. The writer retains the right to the written work What reaction do you want your reader to have? and is responsible for making the final decision How do you see your ideas being rearranged or about any changes. changed? Why?Peer Conferences Guidelines for Successful Peer ConferencingPeer conferences can be an important part of thewriting process as well as a useful teaching strategy. 1. Help others identify or clarify problems, butDuring a peer conference, students are both remember only the writers can solve thoseteachers and learners who: problems. write more because they have an immediate 2. Observe and share feelings, avoiding audience judgement as much as possible. are more involved in and responsible for learning 3. Be brief and clear, dealing with immediate because they are making choices and decisions concerns and the effect they have on you here about own work and now. are able to retain ownership of written work 4. Listen closely to the writer’s concerns and because they determine if and when to make use consider these concerns when reading or of suggestions from others. listening to the written work. 5. Regarding the written piece itself, theTeachers can assist students by providing conference partner(s) consider(s):expectations for peer conferencing sessions. It can a. the beginning:be useful to involve students in setting some of the Is it interesting? Does it grab yourexpectations. The following examples may be attention?discussed with students and posted for reference, or b. the middle:may be adapted for student handouts. Does it leave out important details? c. the ending: Is it satisfying? d. the language: Is it clear and easy to understand? Is it appropriate to the writer’s purpose, audience, and format? e. the focus or key idea: Does the piece have a clear focus? Do all elements of the piece relate to the focus? To each other?Saskatchewan Ministry of Education 11
  •  emphasize that all students have noteworthyTips for a Successful Proofreading Conference ideas and experiences about which to write  demonstrate that writing involves decision makingParagraphs: Is there a new paragraph for each new and that peers are valuable resources during theidea or for each new speaker? Does one paragraph processlead logically into the next paragraph?  help students recognize that writers should be able to give reasons for the choices madeSentences: Do they end with full-stop punctuation? regarding what and how writers communicate.Is there subject-verb agreement? Are they varied inlength and complexity?Standard Usage: Read the piece aloud to yourself ora peer. Does the language sound correct? Check alanguage handbook or talk to another person if youare uncertain.Spelling: When proofreading a piece, if a word looksmisspelled, try to spell the word in different ways:sound it out, check the dictionary, or ask a peer.Then record the word on your Personal Spelling Listfor future reference.Punctuation: Read the piece aloud to decide if thepunctuation creates pauses and stops that soundright. Check another piece of literature or a languagehandbook/resource to determine appropriatepunctuation.Capitalization: Check for capital letters at thebeginnings of sentences and for proper nouns.Be honest and fair when conferencing! Remember,it is your job to help your partner become a betterwriter.Opportunities to Share WritingMost writing is meant to be heard or read by anaudience. Writers are their own first audience, butthey also require the genuine response of others.Teachers may wish to establish regular sharingtimes (e.g., the end of each class period). Thisencourages students to try out new ideas for writingor sharing.The Authors’ Circle (Graves & Hansen, 1983) is astrategy that provides opportunities for students toread their compositions to a small group of peers or,if appropriate, to the entire class. Listeners react tothe writing, ask questions, and offer constructivecomments and responses. Authors’ Circles provideopportunities to: demonstrate that writing is more than a transaction between the student and teacher by extending students’ sense of audience extend the skills of collaborative learning and peer conferencing and editing experience different styles of writing12 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  • Possible Writing Forms: A Sample Planning Chart Possible Writing Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3 Unit 4 Unit 5 Unit 6 Experiences (Formats) (optional) Accident Report Advertisement Advice column Apology Article Autobiography Ballad Biography Campaign speech Chapter of a novel Character analysis Character sketch Descriptive paragraph Dialogue Diary/journal Directions Ending Essay Eulogy Expository paragraph Fable or fairy tale Fact sheet Family history Game rules Greeting card Horoscope Instructions Interview Joke Legend Letter of complaint/inquiry Narrative paragraph News article Parable Personal experience story Persuasive paragraph Petition Poem Rap Recipe Reminiscence Report/research paper Review Script/short play Short story Song Sports column Summary Tall tale Want ad Wish listSaskatchewan Ministry of Education 13
  • Sample Lesson Planning Guide for WritingOutcome(s): (What will students learn and be able to do as a result of this activity?)Assessment and Evaluation: (What do students already know and do as writers? What do students not know ordo as writers? What evidence will demonstrate that students have achieved the outcome?)Prompt: (What is the task? Is it clearly stated? Does the prompt draw on students’ prior knowledge andexperiences or pique students’ interest in the topic?)Pre-writing and Planning: (What pre-writing activities will help the students generate ideas for writing? Whatactivities will help students to focus on the task and formulate a writing plan?)Drafting: (What strategies can help students prepare their first draft? Do students have the opportunity and timeto generate more than one draft?)Revising: (What specific activities or guidelines will help students in their revisions? How will students bemotivated to rethink and reshape their papers and not just recopy them?)Sharing: (What provisions are made for students to give and receive feedback on their drafts and revisions? Howcan students share their final products with others?)14 Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
  • Sample Teacher Checklist to Support Writing1. Do I model and share writing strategies? __ develop students’ explicit knowledge of the writing process and its recursive nature __ introduce a variety of pre-writing, drafting, and revision strategies2. Do I use mini-lessons to help students review or acquire writing skills or strategies or learn a specific language concept? __ analyze what individuals and groups of students need to know and build on what they already know __ provide short but focused direct instruction about a language concept, convention, format, or issue3. Do I provide opportunities for students to write for a variety of purposes and audiences? __ encourage students to express themselves __ provide opportunities for students to describe, narrate, inform, and persuade __ provide opportunities for students to reflect, clarify, and explore ideas __ provide opportunities for students to entertain4. Do I provide students with, and help them to use, a variety of tools to assist students during their writing? __ provide language handbooks __ provide dictionaries and thesauri __ use literature as models __ include peer learning activities __ design activities for students to use word processing software and the Internet5. Do I encourage and instruct students about how to use writing as a means of thinking, responding, and learning? __ encourage students to collect writing ideas in journals (e.g., key phrases from Thanksgiving dinner, a quick sketch of geese flying in formation) __ provide time for students to write about what they are thinking (e.g., write down one question you have about this topic) __ allow students to review, think, and write about a topic again (e.g., write about how your ideas regarding this topic have changed throughout the unit and why) __ model and encourage use of a variety of strategies including jotting notes, creating idea webs, researching, and designing outlines or overviews __ provide opportunities for students to experiment with words and writing formats6. Do I encourage students to use writing folders? __ encourage students to use folders to sift, sort, and store pre-writing notes __ encourage students to collect drafts for revision in writing folders __ support students in collecting exemplary and polished work7. Do I help students balance their attention to writing content, process, and product? __ encourage students to generate ideas and say what students want to say __ encourage students to use pre-writing, planning, drafting, conferencing, revising, editing, proofreading, sharing, and publishing strategies __ encourage students to develop drafts into polished, finished compositions8. Do I involve students in assessing writing practices and behaviours? __ identify students’ strengths and needs before, during, and after writing __ consider peer, teacher, and self-assessments (e.g., peer and teacher conferences) __ use checklists, rubrics, and anecdotal notes __ use both holistic and analytical scoring __ involve students in developing assessment criteria and determining evaluation weightingSaskatchewan Ministry of Education 15