From a young age people learn to speak a language before they can write. Speaking skills are a more natural way of communication until written language has been explicitly taught. When preparing a writing lesson, consider the age group and prior knowledge with speaking and writing skills. Choose a topic your students are more likely to be intrigued by and provide the correct tools to allow creativity. Teaching writing is not just about spelling or grammar but understanding what is expected with different writing genres. The following steps can guide you to selecting a genre, collecting ideas, planning and writing.
Step 1: Select a Genre or Topic
Think about your students interests and current concepts being taught in class. The genre of a writing can be variety of options. The genre can be a recipe, newspaper article, poem, letter, personal narrative, etc. Select a relevant topic for your students, as they will be likely to have more knowledge and interest in the writing process.
For example, in my first grade classroom we studied animals and the habitats in which they live. Students were given a habitat and each student was allowed to choose any animal from that habitat. The topic was relevant and students felt more involved in the writing process since they were able to choose an animal of their liking.
Step 2: Collect Ideas
Whether a direct topic is given, such as writing an informational essay about polar bears in the Arctic or a broad topic of writing a personal narrative, students need time to collect their thoughts. Have students discuss with one another what they believe should be included in their essay or discuss details of the topic. The teacher can provide some guidance questions to help students brainstorm within their groups. For lower primary grades, specific guidelines or questions may need to be provided as they are still in the beginning stages of forming complete thoughts within writing. Based on the genre selected, find a tool that works well as a general form for collecting ideas. A writing journal, a circle map, post-it notes, or graphic organizers are great methods. Have students write and/or draw for a few minutes with anything that comes to mind, not worrying about spelling or punctuation. Once the ideas are put together, organizing those thoughts should be manageable.
Step 3: Explore Model Texts
Be prepared with model texts in the genre of your choosing. Providing students with a visual guide will be beneficial. The students can use the example test to analyze the style of writing and conventions used within that text. Students have presumably read books or text materials within that topic but may have not studied how the author wrote the text. Students will use those model texts to help organize ideas and then refer back to during the writing component.
Step 4: Organize Ideas
Now that students have discussed their topic and explored texts related to the topic, they can organize their own thoughts. With most types of writing, whether it be persuasive, exploratory writing, or personal narrative, the use of a graphic organizer is a fine method. For a common five paragraph writing piece, I use a tool that is more visually appealing with shapes and colors. The introduction and conclusion are rectangles, whereas the middle paragraphs are circles. For other writing topics when more paragraphs are needed, more circles can be added to organize ideas. When alternative forms of writing are selected, such as recipes or letters, composing a draft on paper or in a notebook can help piece together ideas.
Step 5: Write
In most cases a writer will compose a few drafts. This will allow for a rough draft to reread, edit, and make corrections. Inform students if there should more than one draft. Using the organization tools, students should be able to form complete thoughts and properly write about the selected genre. Writing can be done in pairs, groups, or individually.
Step 6: Peer Evaluation
Allowing other students to read and comment on the draft helps students be more aware of their audience. Students can make comments and offer feedback in an effort to enhance the writing material. Once peer evaluations have been completed, a final draft should be written.
By utilizing these steps, the teacher should be able to plan a proper writing lesson which will also keep students engaged. Always keep your students in mind and what would most benefit them in writing. Choose an appropriate genre, help to students collect and organize ideas, and draft an exceptional text. Encourage and teach writing with all concepts to establish growth within speaking and writing skills.