Writing Process: Rough Draft Resources
teaching quality composing skills so that revision can go even deeper!
Hello, my name is Corbett Harrison, and I've been told that I facilitate a fairly competent Writers Workshop for my student writers. During my first few years as a teacher, I believe the exact opposite was true; my students found the act of writing to be more chore than journey. Thank goodness I began working with teachers from the Northern Nevada Writing Project's about five years into my career. The work I did with this excellent organization helped me discover new ways to make the process of writing something my students didn't automatically groan about.
I have two thoughts I want to share about helping students write better rough drafts. I don't profess to be an expert on any best way to teach students to explore the writing process, but I have picked up a few tips over the years. I have no 100 watt bulbs to share, but when it comes to drafting writing, I think I might have a 25 watt bulb or two.
First, I discovered that many of my struggling writers benefited from talking to each other as their rough drafts were being composed. As a first- and second-year teacher, we wrote in silence, which is how I remembered being asked to write when I was in middle and high school. I discovered that many of my students, however, had interpersonal learning styles, which meant they needed to talk about their drafts throughout the drafting stage. I encourage you to find ways to allow your students a chance to stop, to talk quietly and meaningfully about progress they are making, to hear how fellow students are making progress, and then to return to their rough drafts. It takes a little more time to complete a draft when this system is in place, but I honestly found improvement in my students "sloppy copies," which meant their final drafts could become even better.
Second, don't jump into drafting too soon. Donald M. Murray believed that 85% of the writing process should happen before students ever begin writing rough drafts. I have come to believe this too. On state writing tests here in Nevada, we introduce students to their assigned prompt, allow them a very short time to brainstorm, then order them to start drafting. This strikes me as a very poor way to encourage the best writing from our students. Structure your writers workshop (and all other time you spend with your writers) so that huge amounts of time (make 85% your goal) be set aside for meaningful pre-writing activities before your students begin drafting their most important writing assignments.
On this page, we share some drafting tools and ideas that have been created and used in Northern Nevada.
Want to participate in this developing WritingFix page? If you have a favorite original lesson or tool for teaching your students to compose better rough drafts that you would be willing to let us post here, we will send you one of the NNWP Print Publications in exchange for us being allowed to feature it. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details or to summarize a drafting idea/tool that you'd be willing to send us.