There are two main approaches to teaching and practicing writing inside the classroom; process and product writing. In teaching writing we focus either on the product of the writing activity or on writing process itself. When concentrating on the product we are only interested in the aim of the writing task which is ultimately having a written text which is called the end product but when we focus on writing as a process, we pay more attention to the various stages that any piece of writing should go through. Simply, when teaching writing using process approach we aim at developing students’ skills that should be employed when they write such as drafting, editing, redrafting and finally publishing their work. In this approach we ask students to consider some procedures and spend time in some phases to get a good piece of work at last.
Process approach to writing consists of the following stages:
With the help of brainstorming, the writing task should start. In this stage students should think about the topic given. This may be done as whole-class activity or in groups so that students benefit from each other. In this stage the teacher elicits the ideas from students and writes each one on the board without eliminating any. The ideas can be put in linear order or in mind map.
2. Organizing stage:
Once the ideas are put randomly on the board, it is now the time to eliminate some and organize the rest of them. Ideas can be organized as main support, minor support and examples. While organizing, it is normal for students with the teacher to add or delete information. Actually keeping adding and deleting is the main characteristic of this approach until we reach the final product.
3. Writing the first draft:
After organizing the ideas, students start writing their essays. They may change the order or rearrange the main supports or the minor supports. It is a myth that people can write a perfect essay from the first time. There is always a mistake either in the organization or in the grammar or in the word/form choice. This leads us to the following stages; editing and proof reading.
The difference between editing and proof reading is that editing refers to “what you write” whereas proof-reading refers to “how to write”. This distinction is very important in process writing since we should focus on only one thing to correct at a time. It is not advised to correct the organization mistakes and the grammar mistakes at the same time. Students might get confused and not be able to correct all the mistakes. It is also hard for the teacher to correct everything at the same time. It is logical to start dealing with the organization of the ideas and content (editing) since the sentences may change because of the feedback.
As mentioned before editing deals with “what you write”. So in this stage the teacher gives the students feedback to look at the content and the organization of ideas. The teacher gives students some questions asking them to revise their essays and edit them to include the following basic features:
- Is there a main idea? Is it clear?
- Is the introduction interesting for the reader?
- Do the paragraphs develop naturally? Are they relevant to the main idea?
- Are the ideas supported well? Are there enough examples/details?
- Are the transitions chosen correctly and in the right place?
- Is there a conclusion? Does it have a summary?
Then students should edit their essays to add examples, support the main idea, add a summary and delete redundancy.
Once the content and the organization of ideas satisfy the students, then they write a second draft and make it ready for proof-reading.
As mentioned before proof-reading deals with “how you write”. In this stage the piece of writing is checked for any spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. To be more precise the teacher should check and look for the following:
- Any sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
- References without pronouns.
- Redundancy of ideas.
- Spelling mistakes.
- Repetition of the same words.
- Punctuation mistakes.
- Wrong tense choice.
- Misused modifiers.
- Style inappropriate for the audience.
6. Publishing the final product:
The student should make the necessary changes in his/her piece of writing after receiving the proof-reading feedback and then write the essay again as the last version.
This means that the same essay needs to be written at least 3 times; first draft, second draft after editing and the final product after proof-reading.
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