Informational Essay

The Writing Process and Writing Workshop

The Writing Process has evolved into five steps during the years researchers have studied the scribbling of a child to writing in Higher Education.  The first stage of writing is prewriting.  The student chooses a topic. Then writer begins to gather and organize their ideas about the topic.  The students choose who their audience will be, and the purpose for writing their topic.  During the prewriting, the student will choose the most appropriate genre to describe the topic and what audience will hear the completed work.

Drafting involves the student gathering their ideas and beginning to put together a rough draft of the topic.  In this second stage drafting includes the writer crafting or creating the way the topic will be presented. This writing will include as much of the content the author knows and can add to the piece. The content should be used in sequence or an order logical for the reader to understand the topic. Depending on the time of drafting and for immediate reasons, the writer should leave plenty of space around and in between lines to allow the writing to be understood.

After the content of the topic is down, the writer begins to share the draft with revising peers.  The writer should participate in revising and sharing the “glows” and “grows” of other students writing.  When writers share their writing, they learn to see their writing through the practice of viewing other’s drafts.  They share how they would make changes to other’s drafts.  They also make changes to demonstrate the comments and questions placed by classmates and the teacher.  Between the first and final drafts, writers will have significant changes made to their writing. Students participate in revising groups, the practice of orally discussing how revisions will change the text. Student writers start understanding the reader's perspective and begin of placing those changes in the draft. 

The fourth stage of writing is editing.  Editing is described as locating errors with several readings.  Authors should develop the skill of active awareness of readable writing   The author will read to locate areas which need grammar changes and conventions such as correcting spelling, capitalization and punctuation should be applied to the revised draft. 

Finally, the author of a writing will be publishing their works to be presented to the appropriate audience.  The publishing of writing normally includes copying into a bound book or stapled book the writing or a piece of writing to be shared. Students can create author and publishing pages with illustrations to create a formal publication.  Mature students utilize computer software or online websites to publish.  Publish works may be shared in an author’s chair format, peer presentations, buddy classes, websites, blogs or to other audiences.   These steps to expand experiences of students are the components of the Writing Workshop.

Components of the Writing Workshop

The components of the writing workshop are comprised of some basic aspects from Kindergarten to High School.  The workshop will take on different focuses as students mature in writing and by grade level.  Included in the Writing Workshop are focused reading of mentored texts, mini-lessons, guided practice, shared practice, individual practice, conferencing, status of the class, publishing, and author’s chair. 

Free choice writing is a requirement for student writing.  Graves set teachers on their heads when he declared "Children should have free choice to write"  He later clarifies the personal narrative is the best area for student writing. (Graves, 2004, 90). He attributes Shirley Heath's statements about letter writing as bringing about the realization that personal statements and understanding points of view are learned from personal writing.  Students writing letters write to only one individual and for a reason.  Writers need to take ownership in their works so word choice, genre choice and topics are a personal items were teachers need to relax and see how student writings develop. Many researchers and educators realize building relationships is essential to built author skills. As an authors skills mature, the choice of genre, personal, expository, journals, poetry, narratives and technology based writing with publishing will be integrated across curriculum area writing.

Predictable, organized, long blocks of writing time grant, learning and crafting time. Writers require these blocks of time set aside 3 to 5 times a week.  The time can very depending on the age of students and the needs of students with modified instruction.  Pressures to require instruction in reading, reading strategies, guided reading and assessments by legislative and Federal mandates strangle time in the literacy blocks in current classrooms.  Teachers scheduling for student needs can plan instruction to allow writing time.  Weighing the effectiveness of classroom practices and sticking to explicit mini-lessons, efficient conferencing, monitoring and status of the class strategies will provide effective writing times.

Students require frequent and regular conferencing with peers and teachers. Writers who take risks with their stories gain confidence, dignity and respect by sharing their writing. Risk taking is very motivating. Revision conferences with peers and the teacher are short, explicit times for describing genuine areas of strong writing.  Listening to the student about where they are heading and needs to strengthen their works support student's anxieties. Writing conferences provide safe times to solve issues which plague writings. At the beginning of the year, experiences in role playing effective and ineffective peer conferences can eliminate stress. Conferencing questions are needed to scaffold support for other writers.

Teachers need to demonstrate mastered writing styles and techniques through different modes gleaned by reading from mentor texts for prewriting activities and practices.  Students gain writing structures by listening and following along with a mentor text that demonstrates areas of craft: story beginnings, story endings, circle stories, characterizations, conflict, climax and other story structures.  A facilitator shares story ideas from events in their personal lives.  Lists of experiences help students find value in events from their family time, traditions and valued friendships which eventually are expanded into published writings. 

Proficient teachers in writing have experiences which will allow quality and quantity time for writing across curriculum areas.  The writing workshop is set up and managed by a set of procedures and rigorous teaching to model expectations. The students are aware of the expectations by modeling, timed practice and high expectations of quality classroom time and resources. 

Researched and practiced components to the Writing Workshop are spiraled and integrated with the Writing Process to guide young and experience writers to develop into published authors in various genres of literature.


Atwell, N. (1998). In the Middle: New Understandings about Writing, Reading, and LearningBoynton Cook. PortsmouthNH.
Cates, H. & Spangler, D. (2001). Essential Components of an Effective Writing Workshop. Reviewed, June 2016.
Fletcher, R. (2006). Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices. Stenhouse Publisher. 
Fletcher, R & Portalupi, J. (2001). Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide. Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH. 
Graves, D. (2004) What I have Learned from Teachers. (pg. 90), Language Arts. (Vol. 82.2). 
Moffett, J. (1992) Student-centered Language Arts, K-12Boynton Cook. PortsmouthNH. 
Spandel, V. (2013). Creating Writers: 6 Traits, Process, Workshop, and Literature. (Pg. 32).  Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc.
Tompkin, G. (2010). Teaching writing: Balancing product and process. Pearson Publications.

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