Tip Three:      Validate the Process.

We teach that writing is a process, then ask students to follow a five-step procedure.  They'd rather not complete those five steps.  They'd much prefer do it in one step and if all we, as teachers, are interested in is the final product, we've provided scarce motivation to follow the five steps (discuss and gather information, write, revise, proofread, publish).

Validate the process by having students turn in ALL the drafts of their assignment, with the "published" copy on top.  It's a something like the math teacher who insists students "show their work," rather than just give the answer.

Requiring each draft to be turned in does several things:  first it keeps the student on track.  If he is accountable for only the final draft, he may procrastinate writing until just before the final draft is due.  If he must "show his work" along the way, then he is more likely to follow all the important steps.

Second, it demonstrates the importance of each step.  A child needs to know that his work matters.  If something he does isn't even looked at, then he is tempted to expend minimal effort.  Turning in the "back steps" says those steps are worth the effort.

Third, it helps the student see how his work has developed which will provide a foundation for more successful writing assignments.  He will gain confidence that the steps work.

How should the work be turned in?  There is more than one option:

  • You may prefer to see the work as it progresses and set a rigid time frame for each step. 
  • You may choose to let the student compile his work when finished with the "published" copy on top.  Underneath that should come the proofread copy, then the revised copy, the first draft, followed lastly by his notes. 
  • You may favor using a folder or binder where all work is kept and is available for you to check at any time. 
  • If a student uses a computer for his writing, then all drafts can be kept in a file.  The student would use the "save as" feature as he works through the steps.

When students understand the value of what they are doing, they are more likely to invest time, effort, and thought.  Encouraging the development of excellent writers includes not only teaching the writing steps, but understanding motivational issues as well.

 Tip Four coming soon.