Write from the Beginning – First Draft

April 14, 2007 at 3:29 am | Posted in education, elementary, graphic organizers, inner city, learning modality, schools, teachers, third grade, writing | 1 Comment

After we finish our Flow Map, we usually do what I call “Pull Out and Talk”. This is a strategy that I picked up from our Into English! program, which is our English Language Development program for our English Language Learners.

I model first using our class Flow Map. Then, I give all students a few minutes to pull out and talk. What they are doing is orally rehearsing their writing using the Flow Map as the guide. So many of my students are oral learners that this strategy really helps them produce excellent writing. Going from a pre-write to a first draft directly is extremely difficult for my inner city kids. This Pull Out and Talk strategy bridges that gap.

After the students Pull Out and Talk to themselves, they pull out and talk with a partner, with a small group, to the class, or with me, depending on their needs. During all this talking, the students get to hear other writings and will revise their writing as they hear good examples.

Remember that nothing is written down yet at this point, but the students are already revising their writing as they orally rehearse.

After being given amble time to pull out and talk, I finally model the first draft. I emphasize the fact that I’m not making up anything new, I’m just writing down exactly what I said during my pull out and talk. Somehow, this is a difficult concept for students to accept at first…that what comes out of their mouth is acceptable in writing.

When the students are finally given a chance to do their first draft, the first draft is done very quickly. After all, the students don’t have to spend any time thinking about what to write. All they have to do is just put it down in writing. First draft is the easiest part of our writing process now.

Here is A’s first draft.

A sample page 1
A sample page 2

It is a solid piece of writing. As a teacher, I already see several skills I need to continue working with A on, complete sentences for one, but I’m not worried about her ability to write a coherent, focused piece of writing that answers a prompt.

Here is J’s first draft.

J sample page 1
J sample page 2
J sample page 3
J sample page 4

Four paragraphs of focused writing that answers the prompt. Basic sentence structure, but not bad. Experimenting with the use of transition words, good. Needs work, but an excellent start. I can see that J is ready to take his writing to the next level, giving it voice and style.

All in all, excellent writing from my students given the excrutiating ramblings they produced at the beginning of the school year. Lots of instruction went into them being able to do this in three days independently in an assessment situation. Lots of hard work on their part!

I am very proud of them and am already planning my next series of instruction to meet their needs as learners.


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