During the drafting stage, students expand the ideas they generated during prewriting into a working rough copy by organizing their writing. Since the writing process is fluid, students may choose to change earlier decisions about purpose, audience, and genre. Differentiated instruction and use of technology tools are important to address different learning styles.
Best Practices with Technology
Step 1: Provide Direct Instruction
- By modeling and thinking aloud on your interactive whiteboard, show students how to use tools such as Google Docs or Zoho Writer to create, revise, and store their drafts in a digital writing portfolio.
- Focus explicit instruction on how to translate ideas and notes into strong sentences.
Ways to help students generate sentences
- On your whiteboard, color code sample words and phrases that can be combined into sentences.
- Model sentence combining by starting with a simple example: “The cat was gray” and “The cat was soft” can be combined to create “The cat was gray and soft.” As students gain confidence, move to more complex examples.
- When you teach students about using transition words to develop different sentence structures, use Wordle to create colorful word clouds that contain various groups of transition words that can be used to compare/contrast and summarize.
- Provide direct instruction on drafting sentences for different purposes. Use an online collaborative workspace to share examples of introductory paragraphs, body paragraphs, conclusions, and argumentation.
Teach students to become fluent with handwriting, spelling, sentence construction, typing, and word processing.
Step 2: Help Students Write for a Variety of Purposes
- Use a classroom blog to post examples of the different types of leads that students could use as models for writing opening sentences. Depending on the genre, purpose, and audience, have students practice writing their opening sentence, or lead, using the blog.
- To differentiate instruction, use a variety of technology tools to teach students how to draft paragraphs that include a topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding statement.
Strategies for teaching paragraphing
- Create a podcast that identifies the steps students can follow to create a well-written paragraph and post it on your class website.
- Post strategies and lessons on Kidblog and communicate back and forth with your students to model paragraph writing.
- Depending on the purpose and genre of the writing, provide students with sentence frames—ranging from simple to complex—to guide their writing (e.g., My favorite ____ is ____; The purpose of the experiment was to ______________ by _____________).
- Show students a video from Teachertube to give them more practice with sentences frames.
- Make sure students understand the different ways text is crafted based on purpose and audience (for genres such as narrative, descriptive, informative, and persuasive) to guide their thinking when developing their first draft. (See UDL Checkpoint 8.1: Heighten salience of goals).
Teach students to use the writing process for a variety of purposes.
Step 3: Engage Students in Ongoing Assessment
- Students learn in different ways, so provide them with a variety of opportunities to reflect on their first drafts. Model reflecting on a piece of your own writing; videotape yourself using a list of guiding questions to compare your prewriting techniques and your first draft and then share the video with students on the interactive whiteboard. (See UDL Checkpoint 9.3: Develop self-assessment and reflection).
Possible technology tools to support reflection
- Add prompting questions to classroom blogs
- Have students record their reflections
- Provide online assessment checklists for writing portfolios
- Use online graphic organizers
- Ask students to fill out an “Exit Card” containing a set of reflective questions
- Establish the criteria for the completion of student drafts by creating your own rubric (or modifying or using published rubrics) that includes the criteria you want to assess, and then model how to use the rubric.
- When students post drafts to their digital writing portfolios, you and your students can compare their drafts to their original prewriting plans to check if everything is included, if it makes sense, and if changes are needed.