The following was an essay I wrote in 2010. The language is "user friendly" but makes its point concisely.
“Writing is mankind's last manifestation”. I agreed to the previous quote after I heard it from one of my college professors in 2000. I realized then that written expression is humankind's most ultimate form of communication. Written text has the power to change the globe everyday. Every single idea that has made an impact on our lives has been due to someone somewhere writing it down. How would law establish itself without it? How could we know about Shakespeare's plays and its pertinence to today's culture? How do we know the way our history shapes us? And most important; how do we know the truth? As a teacher we must know the importance of writing. Yes, many of us do not like writing. But no one will dispute its significance. We must show (model) the importance of it. Not to say the least that reading also goes hand in hand. Most people who do not like to write is because they do not like to read. If a teacher does not enjoy reading, their career will be a steeper path to the finish. An important factor is to show them (the students) how rewarding writing may feel. This may be implemented in the publishing stage. To see our own work be admired by others is an exhilarating feeling. There are steps in which I can help a student reach this feeling. First, I must introduce the concept of a writing “process” and not a finished work. All written work may be revised at anytime (including this one). Then, show that the process is divided into five steps that are: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, publishing. Also, there are other approaches that help writing development in which could be used. Krashen's affective filter does not limit itself to a conversational class. It can also be noted in the writing process.
It is important for the students to comprehend completely the term pre-writing. We must leave it as a step in which we construct ideas, cancel out ideas, and to see what is pertinent for the subject given. Many people might feel frustrated when writing because it may be difficult to know where to start. It's ironic how people fear their own thought process. It is important to let our students know that they should relax. By doing this we, lower their affective filter. Creating an excellent writing atmosphere helps to bring about good ideas. Some of my best teachers thought that everything was art and beautiful. They would praise any idea as if it were the discovery of world's biggest secret. This attitude creates such an atmosphere. To introduce brainstorming, I would show the students a video of a thunderstorm. The concrete example gets them the idea of creating a storm of ideas for their paper. After that, I would model on the board a brainstorming activity, by timing myself and just go “crazy” and showing them that no idea is out of bounds. After modeling brainstorming, I would model listing by writing down ideas for a paper on the board. Within a given time they would tell me different ideas specific to the subject. “This will help the students to focus on the important and interesting ideas they have instead of struggling to find the correct form for those ideas”(Zainuddin). After these two activities, freewriting can be introduced. It would be simple just to give them a blank sheet of paper and ask them to write anything that comes to their mind about the subject. Freewriting may be a spaced out activity for those who have never written a formal document, and would not recommend it as a first activity. A good first activity for pre-writing would be visual mapping also known as a web map. The teacher would first model by circling the main idea of an essay in the middle. Then, would ask the class to give supporting ideas to the main subject and web it off. This activity can even lead to other ideas they never thought would come out. It also helps a lot with the visual learners. An activity such as question dial could help elaborate on a subject without losing yourself on another. A teacher would have a big circle and divide it into the five W's and H questions (who, what, where, when, why, how). It can also be used as a supplement for the previous pre-writing activities.
Drafting is where a student would construct the base or skeleton of their paper. It is where the ideas actually begin to form into paragraphs and structure. Many people struggle in drafting (especially the perfectionists) because they refuse to let their ideas flow. Again, we as teachers need to model the thought process of drafting. We can digitally project a Word Document and think aloud as we write. The questions we must ask ourselves as we write are: “What is the essay about? Why are you writing it? Whom are you writing for? What is your favorite part? Why? What ideas did you leave out? Why?”(Zainuddin). Keeping on your topic is the most important idea in drafting. Though drafting may be the stage with the least activities, it is the longest to create. It is where the essay actually comes alive.
Revising is the stage where students exchange their essays with their peers and provide new ideas for them. Ideas may even be canceled out. I have read about authors who have canceled out entire chapters for their books. It is very important to let the students know that this stage is not about correcting syntax. It is only to provide ideas. If they have never written an essay before, then much less have practiced revision. A good idea from Zainuddin is to provide them with Reader-Writer Response Worksheets, where the reader responds to a series of guide questions provided. Teachers may create these questions molded to their objectives. A Group Response Worksheet has the same concept except it is answered by a small group instead of an individual. An Audience Analysis is applied to a whole group. Revisions should be considered an input from readers of an essay. The author has the last word when it comes to choosing any given insights.
On the other hand, the editing stage has little room for author's choices. In this case, the students actually search for correct syntax. The teacher may hand each student an essay from their peers. To edit a paper requires good knowledge of grammar, so they must first learn or recall information in order to be effective in this stage. Constructivist teachers love this stage because the students must be active in their thought process due to the fact that their peer's correctness depends on the editor.
The publishing stage is a great motivator for the students. The feeling they get from their work being recognized can last their whole lives. Even I still remember my teachers displaying my works. It shows them that working the mind pays off and has it intrinsic rewards. Teachers may publish students work by posting them in the hall, school newspaper, mailing them to parents, posting it online. The possibilities are endless. The most important factor in stage is the motivational factor and helping them achieve a sense of accomplishment.
In 2000 the same professor that taught me that “writing is man's last manifestation” caught me plagiarizing. It was the essay “The Things They Carried” by Tim O'brien (brilliant by the way). I was young and given a second chance in life and did not even know it. After my lesson taught, I realized the importance of writing, and firmly believe that it shapes our world culture. This sense of belief must be carried by all teachers while teaching the writing process. It can be arduous, but the results are definitely worth it. We must remember that if they can master the “last manifestation”, then there academic career will go on smoother than their peers.