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When using a process approach to teaching writing, teachers focus on what students think and do as

they write. Graves (1994) identified five stages of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising,
editing, and publishing/sharing. Research has shown that writing process does not take place in a
linear manner; rather, writing involves recurring cycles. The stages have been labeled as a way of
identifying and discussing writing activities (Graves, 1994; Perl, 1994). Tompkins (2003) lists the key
features of the writing process as follows:
Stage Writing Process
Stage 1: Prewriting Students write on topics based on their own experiences.
Students engage in rehearsal activities before writing.
Students identify the audience for whom they will write.
Students identify the function of the writing activity.
Students choose an appropriate fore for their compositions based
on audience and purpose.
Stage 2: Drafting Students write a rough draft.
Students mark their writing as a rough draft.
Students emphasize content rather than mechanics.
Stage 3: Revising Students reread their writing.
Students share their writing in writing groups.
Students participate constructively in discussion about classmates'
writing.
Students make changes in their compositions to reflect the
reactions and comments of both teacher and classmates.
Stage 4: Editing Students proofread their own compositions.
Students help proofread classmates' compositions.
Students increasingly identify and correct their own mechanical
errors.
Students meet with the teacher for a final editing.
Stage 5: Publishing Students make the final copy of their writing, often using word
processing.
Students publish their writing in an appropriate form.
Students share their finished writing with an appropriate audience.
Students sit in the author's chair to share their writing.


Often teachers who use a process approach to writing also use reading workshops in their classes;
the two go hand-in-hand. The key element of both workshops is student choice; that is, students
choose what they read and write. Often, these choices are within boundaries established by teachers.
For example, students may choose to read books from an assigned genre and engage in a specified
type of writing. Writing in writing workshops may be in response to literature. Writing workshops work
best when there is a large block of time for students to write.
Below are some suggestions for beginning a writing workshop in your classroom:
Begin by teaching students the stages of the writing process. A class collaboration works well
for this (see below).
Establish procedures for how a writing workshop will run in your classroom.
Anticipate topics for mini-lessons that you will teach during the workshop. Usually these are
lessons on new writing skills or skills that students are misusing.
Plan for how you will assess students' progress during writing workshop. Prepare checklists,
organize schedules for observing students while they are writing (a few each day), and create
grading rubrics with the class so that all understand how the writing they produce during writing
workshops will be graded.
Some suggestions for procedural rules for writing workshops include:
Students keep their writing in a designated place (e.g., in writing folders or a writer's notebook).
Don't throw away anything! All drafts, jottings, drawings, etc. show process and will be included
in the final assessment of written work.
Every piece of writing or entry in a writer's notebook should be dated.
All drafts should be written in pencil (if not completed on a word processor).
Students should double space during drafting so that revisions are easier to make.
Use different colored ink for revising and editing.