Structures for Writing the First Draft

Here are a few points to keep in mind when reading through the examples of this process.

1. Every paragraph is based upon a specific focus. The paragraph begins with “a main idea” and not “the main idea.” There are many possible main ideas on which the paragraph may center, as opposed to one right main idea.

2. When writing the paragraph, each part of the six-step analytical process relates to previous parts. For example, the sentences in part two relate to the main idea stated in part one; the response to part three is based on the response in part two. As a result, the rough draft paragraph is very logical.

3. Success with this method is dependent upon the student understanding of the topic and the focus. The old adage “garbage in and garbage out” applies. The teacher can look at the student’s sentences(s) for chapter one of this process and know immediately if the student comprehends the content or the topic.

When you teach the Structured Writing process, it is essential to spend time training students to become proficient with each step of the process.

Here are a few points to keep in mind.

1. Take the student through the process step-by-step. Let the student complete the first step before describing the second.

2. Give students time to share their responses and an opportunity to borrow ideas from each other during the training phase. Have students read responses including previously completed steps. For example, after completing step three of the process, a student will share his or her sentence for steps one, two, and three.

3. Work with the students to embellish the quality of their responses. With content writing, insist on appropriate terminology.

4. Push students toward in-depth sentences that complement previously stated language but do not repeat.

5. Require that rough draft sentences be longer, except when writing a personal narrative.

For example, I require that most rough draft sentences be, at least, twelve words; this encourages students to elaborate and to play with the inclusion of prepositional phrases or dependent clauses.

I hope you enjoy your experience with this process. I look forward to hearing how your students are doing, and I am happy to answer any questions as you put this process into play.

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