Process Writing

What is Process Writing?

For some people, writing is a simple thing. You probably wrote an e-mail or a social media post today, and you didn’t put much thought into it. Yet some thought did go into it… On some level, you considered what you needed to say and how to say it, then you wrote it and at least considered revising what you wrote. This, essentially, is process writing.

In the classroom, it means treating the whole process of writing as important and worthy of a creative approach. It means not just giving your students a task to do and expecting them to do it, but guiding them through each stage. Many students dread writing as it can be boring, yet process writing makes it interactive, communicative, and interesting.

Why Use Process Writing

As mentioned above, it can be a fun and communicative process. Students can get valuable speaking practice at the earliest stages of process writing.
But that’s not the point, exactly. If in a writing class you aim to improve students’ writing, and in process writing you can do so more effectively. Research suggests that simply correcting an essay doesn’t result in students’ improving their writing skills. However, feedback between drafts can be extremely useful.
Process writing considers what the students say as important, and doesn’t focus too much on how it is said – ie grammar and vocabulary. However, by using this method it is reasonable to expect students’ language to improve.

What are the Processes?

The processes are:
  • ·         Pre-writing
  • ·         Focusing ideas
  • ·         Evaluating, structuring, and editing
Let’s look at them in more detail:

Pre-writing

This stage involves brainstorming and generating ideas. This can be the fun, communicative stage. Teachers should set activities that allow the students to think about the topic and come up with content. Usually, learners think too much about language and their writing will have relatively few ideas. Circumvent this by developing useful activities.

Focusing Ideas

This is where the students shape their ideas prior to writing. Normally, you might think this is also a time when students work alone, but this can be done in pairs or small groups, too. Here you should have activities that encourage students to write without thinking too much about accuracy, and more about ideas.

Evaluating, Structuring, and Editing

In this part you want your students taking the ideas from earlier and starting to piece them together logically. This can involve them ordering their notes, or someone else’s notes into a coherent structure. Students should also get involved in both self-editing and peer-editing.

Feedback

Feedback is obviously very important in writing lessons, but the traditional method of correcting essays may not be the most useful. Peer-checking and self-editing between drafts is considered a better and more effective way of resolving errors. In addition, it is useful for the teacher to give students some marking that requires them to implement changes themselves. Perhaps take one student’s essay (make it anonymous) and then mark and rewrite the essay. Have students look over the corrections and rewriting to note the differences.

Potential Problems

Some students will want more direct feedback and believe that writing lessons should involve more writing and less planning. Some learners are only interested in improving their language accuracy, and feel that process writing doesn’t give them enough focus on language use.
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I'm the founder and editor of Beatdom Literary Journal, author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. I'm also a teacher and operate the popular website, TED-IELTS.

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