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The Process

Written by Adela Arriaga
December 01, 2010

As a teacher, I have continually struggled in teaching my students to appreciate the need to go through the writing process.  Many students just write once, without proofreading and turning the original piece in for a grade.  Students do not see the need to reflect, make corrections, and add details, in their writing.  They see the writing process as a chore and non-engaging.  The student’s audience is the teacher, and the end result is the grade.  Once the grade is assigned, the piece is “dead.” The student will not go back to the piece again.  

We weren’t school; instead we were a writing camp.  We didn’t give topics and subjects the students had to write about, nor were students given grades or deadlines. Rather they chose what they wanted to write about.   Students would conference with each of the teachers and with each other, working to grow as writers.  Our students yearned to write.  They could spend hours inside the computer lab composing, and some wanted to go home and read what someone else had written.  

The process was different for every student. Some students would begin their piece on paper then type it onto their wiki page; others would just type their work on their wiki page.  For our younger students, an older student, one of the teachers, or volunteers would help type the piece. To facilitate the flow of writing, older students or teachers would type for the student who had fewer keyboarding skills. We didn’t want typing to inhibit our young writers from the experience of being in a community of writers because they were frustrated with the process of keyboarding.

As seventh grader James was typing Chloe’s lengthy story onto her blog page, he commented how many times she used the word “said.”  His schoolteacher had taught them that “said is dead.”  
      Eliza whispered, “Chloe just finished second grade.”  

      James replied, “Oh. She can write for a second grader! Then said is not dead.”

A glimpse of Chloe’s story, that was typed by James.

The passion for writing grew stronger and stronger as more and more students placed their work on their page.  Students thrived on other’s reading their work.  Interestingly, only constructive comments were written for the author.  They were learning to support each other rather then discouraging each other about grammar and spelling mistakes.  

Students wrote comments on the author’s blog seeking more, and praising the author. The author read the feedback, corrected or added to their piece. 

We discovered something amazing. Unknowingly, the author was revising, correcting, publishing, and utilizing the writing process taught in schools. Since it was peer driven, the student didn’t realize that they were involved in the editing process. For some students their writing was continually spiraling, where they constantly revisit that piece to add or fix it.  The students did not seek the teacher’s approval rather they listened to what their peers had to say.  Writing became vibrant, personal, and meaningful.  

The author’s friends edged the author for more.