January 16, 2016

Is Your Writing a Shack or a Mansion?_part 3

Part 3: Drafting

This is the third in a four-part series.  

Click to see Part 1: Brainstorming
Click to see Part 2: Outlining.

I used to assume I didn’t need to model drafting paragraphs from outlines with students in grades 5th and up.  They'd been writing paragraphs for 3+ years at that point, so they surely knew how to manage that piece, right?  What a foolish, naïve lass I once was!

How many times have you thought you had a good outline only to find when you started writing that ideas needed to move, be combined, or there simply weren’t enough ideas? Students need instruction in using their outlines and dealing with outline problems while drafting. Yes, you must model drafting!

Excerpt slide from Expository Drafting Lesson
Before you start drafting, you'll have already evaluated the quality of your outline, but just take one more opportunity to think about where you might support with additional details, and think of potential questions a reader might have.

Instructing whole-class, model and elicit help from students to jot down notes beside an outline regarding potential research questions and ideas to support the body paragraph.  (After whole-class practice, have students use some of the outlines they've been creating to practice this step in small groups and independently.)

Adding these extra points should only take a few minutes and serves to get the juices flowing, especially if you are picking up on drafting on a separate day from creating the initial outline. Don't belabor this part of the drafting activity! 

Let's get that draft on paper...or on a slide, if you please!

Excerpt slide from Expository Drafting Lesson.
The parts in blue font show areas the writer will validate accuracy or wants to support with research after the first draft.

You might read the sample paragraph from the slide above and be underwhelmed; this is by design!  An important consideration when modeling drafting is to remember to make mistakes and use ugly phrasing. As an adult with extensive experience writing, revising simultaneously as you write is somewhat second-nature. This amounts to sorcery in the minds of some students! Do what you can to catch yourself, and don’t revise as you write!  Make it sound choppy. Use repetitive sentence starters, sentence structure, and dull words. You want to get the base shack built with solid foundation and structure - no one is expecting a mansion yet! Think aloud, saying things like, “Hmm…I don’t like how that sounds, but I’ll fix it in revising. Right now, I’m just focus on getting sentences and paragraphs written (or: I'm focusing on content.).  It doesn’t have to be pretty yet.” 

Excerpt slide from Expository Drafting Lesson

The big take-away here is if you don’t make your draft a little rough, you’ll have nothing to improve upon when you go to teach revision! Leave yourself plenty to work with. Remember, it’s also beneficial for struggling writers to see they’re not expected to produce something amazing straight out of the gate!   

Happy writing to you and your class!

Coming soon (February 2016) Part 4: Revising & editing are two different things. Treat them as such & teach them as such! 

(Apologies for the delay! I'm shifting focus to Valentine's Day STEM challenges between now and then!)

Related Posts (clickable once posted):

Part 3: Drafting (you are here now)


Expository Writing Unit

Persuasive Writing Unit

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