Up to this point in the unit of study students have been doing all of their writing inside their writer’s notebooks. Drafting is the first step of the writing process when your student writers will be writing outside of their notebooks. All of the work you having been doing in your notebooks to this point was intended to support writers in thinking about what they will make outside of their notebooks. It has been more of an unconscious type of writing where writers are fast writing and just getting their thoughts onto the page. Drafting is a much more intentional writing where the writer has some plan about what they want to say in their writing. Students must know that the draft is really a starting point for what they make as a published piece of writing. When drafting, writers should remember that they will have a lot of opportunities to go back and revise their work after the draft is written. Writers should not be expecting this to be the last of the writing work they will do.
It is a difficult concept for teachers to convey and beginning writers to understand that the draft is something different from what they have been doing in their notebooks. One way to do this is to help students focus on how to begin the draft, setting the stage for the idea that we are transitioning to deciding how to assemble our texts, rather than allowing them to emerge organically or “accidentally.” Another option might be to have your students think about a plan for their story by creating a story board. This helps them to think about how the story might go. Included in the resources on this page are two lesson plan ideas that show how the drafting day might go.
The example below shows two copies of a students piece of writing about Florida. The top portion of the page is her first draft. Notice how this writer takes one interesting line from her first draft and creates a second piece of writing around that line. She begins by writing facts about Florida, by the end of her first revision she has transformed her piece into a sensorial experience of a Florida beach through her writing.
Look back through your notebook entries and begin to think about your first draft. Decide what it is you will be writing: a poem, a memoir, a personal essay before you begin to write your first draft. After deciding what you will be making you are ready to make a draft!
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