Writing Mini-Lessons: What Is Writing?

“I think of writing as a ball of clay.  When you are writing a rough draft,
you are taking a lump of clay and giving it shape.  As you revise and polish, you
continue to refine the clay’s form.  Finally, at the end of the process, you fine
the sculpture, giving it the finishing details and bringing it to completion
just as you do when you bring a piece of writing to final draft form.”

~ Allie, sixth grade student

“We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway
intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over
again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a
blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Although writing is taught well at Old Adobe Elementary School, each sixth grade class reflects a wide range of writing experience.  In order to begin to unify the students before beginning this year’s writing journey, we work together to define the writing process, focusing on the behaviors of proficient writers.  This begins with the reality that writing is a rich, complex, messy process that allows for many entry points.

Writing is a process, not a single activity. It involves lots of actions, steps, behaviors, thoughts, and changes. Students brainstorm elements of writing. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

thinking on paper drafting words and ideas
thinking of a topic brainstorming ideas
deciding on a genre revising
copy-editing polishing
planning researching
notetaking cutting and pasting
making webs or spider legs listing
making priorities manipulating the pacing
considering audience engaging the reader with a strategy
organizing typing
handwriting spelling
punctuating capitalizing
paragraphing line breaking and stanza breaking
proofreading final drafting
reading what you’ve already written observing the world around you


Now that we’ve explored some of what writing is, let’s discover why we write. Why do you write?