What I've discovered has surprised me. Many groups have a lot trouble describing their process. And I can see that their teachers are just as surprised as I am. Sometimes they even whisper answers to students sitting nearby. Clearly, they're frustrated.
Here are two things I've noticed, again and again, as I patiently provide a string of clues to help students list the various steps.
1. Within the same school, each grade level often uses different terminology. That can certainly lead to confusion.
2. In some schools, the process itself isn’t consistent from one grade level to the next. For example, students in grades 3 and 5 do peer critiquing, but students in grade 4 don’t. That can also lead to confusion.
Researching, writing, and revising nonfiction can be daunting for children. But knowing that it’s a process composed of distinct steps can make it more manageable. By practicing those same steps over and over, students will become more confident writers.
That’s why I recommend that schoolwide or even district-wide terms be adopted for each step in the process. Here are my suggestions:
Choose a Topic
Make a Writing Plan
Write a Rough Draft
Edit/Revise à Second Draft
Edit/Revise à Third Draft
Edit/Revise à Fourth Draft
K-2 students won’t do every step, but once a step (such as peer critique) is introduced, it shouldn’t be omitted at later grade levels. This kind of continuity will help students take ownership of the process and prepare them to work more independently in middle school.