Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Writing Process and Academic Vocabulary

Every fall, I spend time teaching my writers about the writing process. They've experienced it before, of course, but I like for all students to experience the process and learn how it can help them to create stronger pieces of writing.

But the word process is an important academic vocabulary word for students to learn. It's not only important for them in writing class. The word process is also important in science, as students learn about natural processes. Students also need to use this word in math, to explain how to solve problems. Process is an important word!

This year, I started out with "process charades". Students completed a vocabulary word map with the definition of process, examples, non-examples, and a picture. We used the definition that a process is a set of steps. Then, we took turns acting out processes that we know how to do. I illustrated our processes (pretty poorly!) by putting pictures of the steps on the board. Kids were pretty ingenious with the processes that they chose.

Once students had a good handle on the process charades, I gave them a set of notecards. They could think of any process that they knew how to do, from brushing their teeth to mowing the lawn. They illustrated the cards with one step on each card. (Little note: I've taken a cue from the kindergarten teacher and started giving students thin black markers and colored pencils for these sorts of activities. The quality of their work really improves.)

Finally we were ready to move into the writing process! I had already made a simple checklist of steps in the writing process, along with a short writing prompt guiding students to write a paragraph about a process that they know how to do. Now, students saw the writing process, and they were pretty excited that they got to check off a step right away. (They had already done the planning step of making their notecards.)

Yes, following a process to write about a's tough to say, and gets the kids giggling, but they are learning the word.

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