Writing is Elemen‘tree’: A Visual, Auditory, and Tactile Framework for Navigating the Writing Process

Lyndi Maxwell, PhD

Abstract

This article describes how teachers can use manipulatives, visual aids, and poetry to help students navigate a process-approach writer’s workshop.  The workshop is presented as being analogous to how a squirrel navigates an oak tree, as the squirrel represents the writer, each part of the oak tree represents a stage of the writing process, each acorn represents an element of writing, and the harvested acorn collection represents the finished piece of writing.  A rhyming verse accompanies each stage serving as a reminder of what each stage entails.  The workshop includes the following six stages: 1) rehearse; 2) write; 3) receive; 4) revise; 5) publish; and 6) share.  Each stage is discussed individually in terms of: 1) writing activities; 2) an example of how to apply each stage to whole-class interactive writing; and 3) an example of how one student applied each stage to his own work as he transitioned from interactive to independent writing.

Introduction

     “I’m done!” “I already checked it.” “Nothing needs fixed.”  Writing time seemed to sound an alarm of restless third-graders hurriedly making these claims.  Discouragement would immediately set in, as I knew it wasn’t “done”, they hadn’t “checked it”, and a lot of things needed “fixed!”  I wondered why, even after modeling and interactively writing our way through the writing process, students consistently struggled to retain and execute it.  It was spelled out so clearly and sequentially to me: 1) pre-write, 2) write, 3) revise, 4 ) teacher conference, 5) edit, and 6) publish.  Where was the disconnect?

Eventually, the work of writing research pioneers such as Don Graves (1983), Nancy Atwell (1998), and Lucy Calkins (2003) illuminated my mistakes.  I had not made writing the predictable, recursive process that students needed.  Instead, I had expected them to take leaps and make assumptions that, without explicit instruction, guided practice, and specific feedback, are not developmentally realistic for third-graders.  Specifically, I had expected them to read their own writing, find fault within their own writing, and revise it into something that was “good enough” for me.  They had no conceptual understanding of the writing process, and I had been conflating my “teaching” writing to their actual “learning” of it.  In reality, our “writing process” looked more like this: 1) student writes something, 2) reads it to me, 3) I edit it and return it, and 4) students neatly rewrites draft, having produced a final piece that showed no noticeable growth from the original one.  It had become to feel more like my grade than theirs, and problematically, I had allowed it to become more of a transaction rather than the transformation I had envisioned.

My students needed writing instruction opposite of what I had been giving them.  They needed to write within a systematic framework to understand that writing is not a transaction, but a transformation in which they see their thoughts and ideas take shape and unfold.  They needed to understand that writing is enhanced through social interaction via peer conferences, teacher conferences, and also through individual reflection.  Most importantly, they needed to experience the sense of pride that comes with seeing how far one’s writing has progressed.

While the writing workshop I implemented is derived from the seminal work of Graves (1983), Atwell (1998), and Calkins (2003), it supplements their work in that it provides students with a predictable, comprehensive visual display of the writing process.  Moreover, it combines visual, auditory, and tactile modes of learning (See Figure 1).  For instance, students visually see each stage of the writing process, which provides a sense of comfort and understanding of where s/he has been, where s/he is currently at, and what s/he must do in order to progress to the next stage.  Students benefit from accompanying rhyming verses, which signify the writing expectations at each stage, while they also move a squirrel around an oak tree as a representation of oneself progressing through each stage of the writing process.  Please note that the intent here is to guide students in understanding the stages of the writing process, rather than an in-depth how-to guide to enhance the quality of students’ writing.

The purpose of this article is to share how in a rural Midwest, general education classroom  I implemented a process-approach writer’s workshop complete with the aforementioned visual, auditory, and tactile components to guide twenty-one third-grade students through the writing process.  A research and theory section first underscores the importance of early childhood writing and briefly describes the workshop’s theoretical framework.  This is followed by a description of the workshop’s conceptual model, and proceeded by the “Writer’s Workshop” section, in which the following six stages are discussed: 1) rehearse; 2) write; 3) receive; 4) revise; 5) publish; and 6) share.  While it is understood that the writing process is recursive rather than linear and not every student will progress through the workshop in exactly the same manner, in the interest of clarity, each stage is discussed sequentially in terms of: 1) the writing activities; 2) an example of how to apply each stage to whole-class interactive writing; and 3) an example of how one student applied each stage to his own work as he transitioned from interactive to independent writing.

Research and Theory

     The most seminal voices in early childhood education have taught us that writing is a key cornerstone to overall literacy development (Harris et al 538).  Clay (1994) tells us that writing is a foundational precursor to reading, as it is an early predictor of both the child’s reading skills and overall literacy development.  Clay (1994) further espouses that when a child learns to produce (write) letters, words, and sentences, this has the advantage of helping the child receive (read) letters, words, and sentences.  Calkins  tells us that children’s writing gleans insights as to what the child understands about the intricacies of literacy, from the alphabetic principle to the ability to read and compose stories, while Graves contends that writing is a craft, and that when children write like authors, they will grow to understand the value in writing, reading, revising, and rewriting.

Literacy development also yields numerous benefits for students both in and out of the classroom.  Writing ability is also linked to later literacy development; social, emotional, and cognitive development; high academic achievement; and self-efficacy, which is linked to adulthood benefits such as long-term employment, higher income, a longer, healthier lifestyle, and community involvement (Alliance for Excellent Education 1-6; Brown et al. 15-17; Harris et al. 538-542; Schunk 159-171). Moreover, students who possess high literacy skills are more likely to graduate high school and/or post-secondary school (Cratty 644-662; Ensminger & Slusarick 95-113; Heckman et al 2052-2086.; Hernandez).

Findings also suggest that a process-approach to writing yields both cognitive and affective benefits, thereby enhancing literacy acquisition (Bui et al 244-260.; Graham et al 879-896.; Harris et al. 538-542; Leinemann et al. 66-78).  This benefits typically developing students, reluctant and/or struggling writers, as well as English language learners (ELL’s), as children who write and revise naturally engage in critical reading comprehension.

For example, children with and without learning disabilities who engage in workshop activities such as class discussions, interactive writing, planning, teacher collaboration, goal setting, and independent writing have experienced gains in both writing development and reading comprehension.  Brunstein and Glaser (922-938) found that students who participated in a process approach were more knowledgeable about aspects of writing than their counterparts, while Pritchard and Honeycutt ( Pritchard & Honeycutt 275-293) reported that both ELL students and struggling writers exhibited: a) greater improvement in the quality of story retellings, b) revisions, c) writing skills, and d) attitudes toward writing than students who were taught under a didactic, traditional approach.  Writing in and of itself has also been shown to enhance content area connections, while increasing students’ independent writing abilities and problem-solving skills (Carter 606-610; Clark et al. 265-271; Hsu 153-158).

Affectively, components of the process approach are congruous with Schunk’s  framework for increasing literacy self-efficacy, a framework that comprises modeling, collaboration, goal-setting, feedback, self-evaluation, and ultimately sharing work with an audience (Schunk 159-171).  This individualized process instills interest, motivation, and stimulates further inquiry as students exercise autonomy by writing about a self-selected topic.  Finally, these findings are further corroborated by Brown and Morrell (15-17), and Jasmine and Weiner (131-140), who reported that a process approach lead to positive changes in students’ attitudes towards writing, along with increased confidence and enthusiasm once students gained familiarity with the process.

Given the literature, it is puzzling why writing, across grade levels, has historically received less attention than other literacy skills in both classroom instruction and research (Miller & McCardle 121-132).  This decline in instruction, unfortunately, mirrors the decline of students’ attitudes toward writing as they progress through school, where writing instruction takes on more of a direct and formulaic approach.  These factors, coupled with students’ lack of writing autonomy, are believed to contribute to students’ waning attitudes, as they begin to “learn” that writing is a one-time exercise consisting of little choice, a lot of effort, and mostly negative feedback (Applebee and Langer 18-28; Kear et al. 10-23; Piazza & Siebert 275-285).

Although writing has been historically neglected in education reform, the advent of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has brought it to the forefront of discussion, as students in the primary grades are now required to write narratives, informational texts, and persuasive texts (Common Core State Standards Initiative 2014).  The CCSS also mandates that students master high-level writing skills such as planning, writing, and revising in conjunction with low-level skills of spelling, grammar, and in the primary grades, handwriting.   Such heightened attention, awareness, and the aforementioned research findings support the need for teachers to employ a process approach to writing to enhance children’s literacy development.

The workshop model provided in this article is applicable across genres and disciplines, while it also reinforces high-level and low-level writing skills.  Children are immersed in the process approach of planning, writing, revising, and publishing, while author-audience communicability factors such spelling, grammar, and legible handwriting are also reinforced.   Ultimately, this writing workshop satisfies both research-based implications for writing instruction as well as Common Core mandates.

This model is based on Vygotsky’s (1934/1986) social constructivist theory, as it  recognizes that learning is a social process, reading and writing are higher psychological processes, and children are able to internalize knowledge when they learn from one another and/or from a more capable other in the classroom.  Essentially, the interpersonal becomes intrapersonal.  Thus, this workshop contains a high degree of social interaction followed by independent work, wherein the child transfers what s/he has learned cooperatively to independent writing.  This is discussed in detail in the following section, as well as throughout the article.

Conceptual Model: Writing is Elemen‘tree’

     Based on the work of Graves (1983), Atwell (1998), and Calkins (2003), I implemented a writer’s workshop that consisted of the following six stages: 1) rehearse; 2) write; 3) receive; 4) revise; 5) publish; and 6) share. Teacher conferences were interspersed throughout the workshop and contingent upon student needs, the intent being to shift students’ perceptions of conferences from a single, judgmental moment to a series of collaborations throughout the workshop that helped their writing grow and develop.

To guide students in navigating the process approach, the workshop is visually presented as analogous to how a squirrel navigates an oak tree (author’s original work).  The squirrel represents the writer, each part of the tree represents a stage of the writing process, and a rhyming verse accompanies each stage as a reminder as to what is required.  Finally, each acorn represents an element of writing such as “voice,” “capitalization,” “topic/information,” etc.  Once the tree has been navigated and the acorns have been “harvested,” this signifies that the piece is ready to share (See figure 1).  Prior to the writing assignment, each student receives a copy of the graphic in figure 1, along with a detachable squirrel and acorns, which they manipulate as they move throughout the various writing stages.

Figure 1. author’s original work

Graphic design by Emily Hendershott

Specifically, the squirrel/oak tree analogy mirrors the writing process as follows:

  1. Rehearsal is akin to the roots in that ideas and plans must be solidly in place, yet have room to evolve and grow.
  2. The first draft is similar to the tree trunk in that it provides a sturdy foundation from which the paper may evolve.
  3. Receiving is comparable to the branches as students branch out to read one another’s drafts, provide comments, questions, and offer suggestions.
  4. Revising is similar to the leaves on the tree, as this brings about change in one’s writing via more colorful language, additions, and deletions.
  5. Publication is where the acorns come into play. Each acorn represents a writing element that is “harvested” during this stage.  This may include, but is not limited to voice, topic/information, grammar, and spelling.  The harvesting of the acorns signifies that the writing process is complete and that the final, published piece is ready to share.
  6. Sharing is the final stage and is arrived at once publishing is complete and the squirrel has gathered all of the required acorns.

Recall that although the writing process is recursive and will vary among students, it is presented here in a linear fashion to clearly describe each stage.  Also, please recall that the squirrel represents the writer, as the following sections discuss how to navigate the writing process.  This is illustrated through an example of whole-class interactive writing, followed by an anecdote of how one student applied each stage to his independent writing, which is a memoir about an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) race he had won.  Although teacher conferences occur multiple times throughout the workshop, for organizational purposes, they are discussed mainly in the “Write” stage of the process.

Throughout the workshop section of the article, as the discussion transitions from interactive to independent writing, we focus on the independent work of a third-grade student named “Brody.”  Brody is a gifted, high-achieving student who excels in reading, although he is new to Writer’s Workshop.  Thus, this was his first time participating in this style of writing instruction.  While Brody understood the importance of voice and writing “something catchy” in his writing, initially he struggled to apply this in his revisions.  The “Receiving” stage, coupled with teacher conferences, were invaluable to Brody, as he was able to hear his peers’ suggestions, as well as articulate what he wanted to communicate to his audience.  For a first-timer in Writer’s Workshop, Brody made growth in his written expression and understanding of audience awareness.

Writer’s Workshop

Stage 1) Rehearse: At this stage the squirrel is down amongst the roots of the tree. 

“Strong roots make the tree grow,

Strong ideas make your writing flow.”

During rehearsal, the teacher first models how to gather and document ideas to help students plan their writing.  This goes beyond “teacher speak, children listen,” and should be a collaborative discussion.  Rehearsal also goes beyond paper-pencil, and children should be taught how to develop ideas by using other published works as guides, engaging in conversations, examining photographs, and/or drawing for inspiration (Atwell; Calkins; Graves).

I explained to my third-graders that we would work as a team at the beginning of each new stage, and that our first piece of writing would be a memoir.  During the rehearsal stage, we worked interactively to complete a graphic organizer which depicted my first trip to a basketball game at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  I posted a large web and passed around pictures and a program from the game to trigger ideas and a class discussion.  Students shared their thoughts on what the memoir should include, such as food at the concession stands, the score, as well as my feelings throughout the game.

When students transitioned to the rehearsal stage of their own memoirs, I distributed replicas of the same graphic organizer, and at the center of the web each student wrote down his/her topic. Students then rehearsed independently, applying what we had just done cooperatively to their independent work.  In Brody’s case, it was his ATV race.  He listed all of the details of the race he could remember, such as the location, speed, landscape, weather, and his award.  Students were then paired with writing partners to examine one another’s webs, during which they shared ideas and posed questions about what their partners might include in their memoirs.  This laid the foundation for the next stage in the process, “Write.”

Stage 2) Write: At this stage the squirrel should be placed on the trunk of the tree.

 “The trunk gets a nice healthy start,

When you write, that’s the biggest part!”

The most important thing at this stage is to simply let children write!  While students should know that spelling and conventions are important, it is more important at this stage to focus on content so they get as much information as possible onto paper (Atwell; Calkins; Graves).  Encourage them to circle any words they are not sure how to spell and to continue writing.  It is also important to remind students that their memoirs need not be confined to ideas on the web.  This is a time to experiment, to write down anything and everything pertinent to the subject of the memoir.

During this stage of interactive writing, I combined think-aloud strategies with student suggestions to write the first draft of my memoir.  For instance, I asked, “How should I begin my memoir so that I grab the reader’s attention?”  We referred back to our rehearsal web and students suggested that I begin with a sentence to describe my excitement. I combined several of their ideas so that the opening sentence read, “I could hardly believe my eyes when I stepped into the Dean Dome.”  We continued writing interactively until the first draft was complete, including details such as the opposing team, game highlights, and my emotions during the game.  During this stage, it is helpful to intentionally make mistakes and omissions that students may potentially catch during the next stage, “Receive.”

Once the interactive writing session is complete, students should then begin writing their first drafts independently.  After providing ample time to begin, the teacher acts as what Atwell (1998)  has dubbed a “rover,” (Atwell 78) moving among students to conduct brief conferences.  Teacher conferences are pivotal throughout the workshop as this is a time for rich discussion and individualized instruction.  While teachers foster an ongoing dialogue by conversing with students, Graves (1983), Atwell (1998), and Calkins (2003) assert that students should do most of the talking as they explain their writing, discuss the current status of the draft, and ask questions.  Conferences are golden opportunities to take notes on student writing, as this helps to inform both small group and individualized instruction.

At this stage it is vital to focus on content and not belabor spelling and conventions.  For example, during my first conference with Brody, I kept our conference content-oriented by asking him to tell me what he was writing about, what he liked about it, and what he thought could be better.  While he expressed pride in how he described the race, he said he wanted to write something catchy at the beginning so that the readers could “make a movie in their minds” (See figure 2).  I suggested he be specific as to where he was and why he was there (Graves).  He then articulated a more vivid oral description, which allowed him to see the gaps between his oral language and his written language. This type of dialogue evokes an awareness in students of how to apply thinking and visualizations to the actual writing.  I documented these goals, and when conferring with Brody for the second time, we discussed his progress towards them. Although he had several misspelled words and run-on sentences, I did not address these during the first conference.  I also suggest limiting students to just one or two revision tasks.  In this case, less is more, as otherwise they will easily become overwhelmed, leading to a poorer quality of work.

Figure 2.

 

Stage 3) Receive: At this stage, the squirrel should be placed among the tree branches.

“Branch out and work together,

Receiving should make writing better!”

 

Stage three is “Receive,” during which children are placed in pairs to exchange drafts. They read one another’s work, make comments, ask clarifying questions, and pose friendly suggestions on how their partners may revise and improve their drafts.  Modeling is a critical first step at this stage as children are often unsure how to evaluate each other’s work beyond the proverbial, “I liked all of it!”  Initially, it is helpful to hold a whole-class receiving session using the interactive draft, which provides students with content familiarity. This also allows students to read like writers, as they begin to read with a critical eye and develop audience awareness.

After rereading the interactive memoir as a guide, one student commented, “You never really told us where the game was.  Was it like, in a stadium?”  Another student pointed out that some of my events were out of chronological order.  For instance, I intentionally described how the game ended, followed by a description of halftime events.  Another student asked what I had to eat and what colors both teams’ uniforms were.  I took a short note of these comments and questions so I could reference them in the “Revise” stage.  For example, after students suggested where, in the text, I should describe where the game took place, I inserted a post-it note that simply said “describe stadium.”  I also jotted down “put events in order” in the margin of the paper.  Also, I informed students that I would not include my halftime snack because I wanted to solely focus on the excitement of the atmosphere and the game itself.

During whole class receiving students take turns reading their work.  This lasts until the teacher has identified who is ready to receive independently or at least in small groups, and students are then paired or grouped accordingly.  Everybody has the same goal at this challenging stage: to use the author’s language as they provide their partners with at least one content-specific comment and make at least one content-based suggestion and/or question which will improve the draft.   The teacher should monitor this session closely, and when students transition to independent receiving, the teacher becomes the “rover” again, as she checks in with students to gauge the quality of feedback they provide for one another. There will undoubtedly be partnerships who come up with no suggestions or comments, upon which it is beneficial to revisit whole-class receiving to ensure that each student receives feedback from his/her peers.  Teacher intervention may be more beneficial, depending on the circumstance.

During Brody’s receiving stage, which occurred in the whole class format, students asked him questions such as, “How many races have you won?” “What kind of four-wheeler do you have?”  Comments included, “You should tell us what your award looked like,” and “I can imagine you looking behind you not seeing any other riders and that’s when you realized you were in first place.”  After choosing one comment and one question on which to base his revisions, his peers helped him decide where, within his text, he should include his revisions.  Just as I had done during our interactive receiving stage, Brody used two post-it notes, on which he wrote “describe four-wheeler” and “describe award.” Brody and his peers also had the advantage of using a document camera, which allowed all students to actually see his writing.  This was invaluable in assisting Brody with placement of revisions.  Receiving paves the way for the next stage, “Revise.”

Stage 4) Revise: During this stage, the squirrel should be placed among the leaves.

“Leaves change, they add color and sound,

So revise to change writing around!”

 

     The fourth stage, revision, is no easy task for the young writer, or for that matter, the old writer!  Often times, children see no need to revise due to their struggles with self-evaluation.  Although students should already have some goals for revisions based on the receiving stage and the teacher conference(s), it helps to remind them that revisions need not be confined to those suggestions, and they are free to make any revisions they feel are necessary.  Teacher conferences are critical at this stage, wherein students read their newly revised piece, identify the revisions or discuss plans for revisions, and describe the impact on the original draft.  In my opinion, it is best to save spelling and/or convention issues for the final round of revisions so as not to overwhelm students.

Modeling is a critical first step in the revision process.  For instance, as a class, we reread the first draft and the receiving notes together, and then applied the previously determined revisions.  Students benefited from my modeling think-aloud strategies such as, “If I were reading this, what would I want to know about the stadium?” and “How can I rearrange my sentences so that everything is in the correct order?” This thought process highlights three important aspects for students: 1) revision is thoughtful work, 2) additions are not simply written at the end of the paper, and 3) revision is not simply rewriting the first draft verbatim.  At this stage children begin to understand (usually to their dismay) that the writing process is both effortful and recursive.  However, this perception can be slightly altered, if not reversed, simply by providing some unique supplies!  Allowing students to make revisions on post-it notes, index cards, and/or strips of paper, and then tape or glue these revisions to their drafts gets them more engaged and inclined to revise their work.  When these materials are accessible, I have often observed an increase in both the quantity and quality of revisions, which I attribute largely to their desire to use the manipulatives.  Since the point of revision is to enhance both creative and critical thinking, it makes little sense for students to rewrite an entire draft each time they revise.  We want them to experience writing as a rewarding, engaging experience rather than punishment for exercising creativity!

Let us revisit Brody’s draft.  Figure three illustrates how he revisited the “write” stage, as he revised his first draft in accordance with the suggested revisions from both his peers and teacher.  He had revised the areas we discussed, but he still had some spelling and convention issues that needed attention.  After rereading his draft, he spontaneously decided to change his title from “My First OXCR Win” to simply, “I Win!”   Children typically go through the revision process two or three times and are then ready to make it official in the next stage, publishing.

Figure 3

 

Stage 5) Publish:  During this stage students move their squirrels around the treetop and begin harvesting (detaching) the acorns.

“Harvest only the ripest acorns,

Publishing means perfect form.”

           

To stress that published means perfect, it is helpful to display and discuss examples of published things students read every day such as books, magazines, etc.  Since publication means a larger audience will read the student’s writing, proper spelling, grammar, and conventions must be in place to ensure communicability between the author and the audience (Atwell, 1997).

Once students reach the publishing stage they should have produced something noticeably different from their original draft, and they will take pride in the revisions they have made.  Recall that during this stage, each acorn represents a required element of students’ writing, as determined by the teacher.  This stage lends itself well to differentiation as acorns are easily modified, depending on each student’s learning needs.  For example, one student wrote a thoroughly descriptive memoir about getting her first puppy.  However, because it was not written in chronological order, it lacked organization and cohesion.  She could not harvest her “topic and information” acorn until she had revised and rewritten it chronologically.  Additionally, one struggling writer was clear on his topic of witnessing a truck accident, but his memoir lacked rich description.  He could not harvest his “voice” acorn until he had shown the readers what the scene was like by using more vivid vocabulary, describing his feelings, and explaining who arrived on the scene.

Think back to the class memoir.  Some of the acorns contained the words “spelling,” “topic and information,” and “capitalization.”  Together, we reread the memoir to ensure correct spelling.  After consulting the word wall and dictionaries, we believed all words to be spelled correctly, and thus “harvested” (detached) the “spelling” acorn, placing it near the bottom of the tree.  Since we believed the information was rich, detailed, and addressed the topic, we “harvested” (detached) the “topic and information” acorn and placed it near the bottom of the tree.  This process continued until each acorn had been harvested.  Students then transitioned to their own memoirs, during which they repeated this process with the assistance of their peers and teacher.

During this stage, Brody read through his memoir while consulting the word wall and/or a dictionary to look up words he could not spell.  He checked to make sure that he had added all of the necessary revisions, checked that they were properly placed, and that all proper nouns were capitalized.  Once he had completed this process and harvested all of his acorns, he tacked his piece on the bulletin board as it was now ready to share.  Once the piece has been published, children are ready to move on to the final and most popular stage: sharing.

Stage 6) Sharing:  At this final stage, the squirrel should be placed beside the pile of harvested acorns.

“Once your acorns are gathered with care,

Your story is ready to share.”

Students must be encouraged to read what they write.  This makes their work meaningful, while also promoting a broad sense of literacy development as students actively link reading and writing.  A final draft is treated as a work of art and intellect, an accomplishment to be shared and celebrated with peers.  This transpires as each student takes on the role of topic expert by reading his/her work aloud to the class, followed by a brief, author-led “question and answer” session.  Once everyone has shared his/her work, the writing may be placed on display, bound in a class book, sent to a children’s magazine for potential publication, or anything the teacher deems appropriate.

While sharing his work with the class, Brody had command of the room and was the topic expert.  Afterwards, one student commented that she liked how he changed the title to “I Win!” because it caught her attention, causing her to wonder what he had won.  Another student asked if he was going to enter in the same race again to defend his title.  Brody was able to share not only his work, but also a part of his life that was special to him.    Moments such as these level the playing field in the classroom, as students get to know more about one another, develop new interests, and potentially form new friendships.  Outcomes such as this are more likely to manifest when writing is taught within Vygotsky’s aforementioned Social Constructivist framework.  It allows students to learn a great deal more about writing, and importantly, one another.

Conclusion

     Current education research and reform policies demand that writing become a priority in the classroom.  The high-level thinking skills embedded in writing such as planning, executing, and evaluating can become both habitual and transferrable to other content areas.  While this workshop will not transform students’ writing capabilities overnight, it will transform how they approach the writing process, which in the long run, will strengthen their writing capabilities.  Engaging students in this process boosts literacy acquisition as students engage in the recursive process of writing, reading, revising, and rereading.  When students read what they have written, they are practicing not only reading comprehension, but also the fluency that comes with rereading.

The discourse during teacher conferences enables students to develop a basic meta-awareness of their own writing.  This, coupled with subsequent revisions, further enables students to articulate and justify their revisions, and to also describe how the quality of their writing has improved.  They may also apply this meta-awareness to their peer’s writing during future “Receiving” stages and peer conferences.

In a process-approach writer’s workshop, the abstract becomes concrete and the intangible becomes tangible.  Students become empowered as they transform mere ideas into visual works of intellect on paper.  When children believe they can write, they write. They write with pride, and they write to be heard.  And how sweet it is to hear those “Nothing needs fixed” comments become, “Can I show you my revisions?”

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