Practice, Practice, Practice: From First Draft to Final Copy

I love teaching Language Arts, but one of the greatest challenges I face is helping students learn how to become good writers.  A great resource to help you teach students how to write effectively is “Teaching Adolescent Writers” (2006) by Kelly Gallagher.  I absolutely love this book and will be providing a resource review soon, but until then, I’ll just be going over a tiny portion of what is covered in this fantastic resource.

Gallagher recounts that when he was a basketball coach, he would take his players through a variety of defensive and offensive drills in order to be ready for the big Friday night game.  Just as coaches take their players through a variety of training practices to build up their skills, so too should teachers provide students with a variety of practice runs to help them become more effective writers.  Before producing well-written formal pieces of writing, students must be given opportunities to explore and develop their skills as writers.

When planning my Language Arts units, I have tried to incorporate as many opportunities as possible to have my students write, write, write!  One area we spend considerable time focusing on is the development of a first draft into a polished and formal final copy.  Sometimes it is very difficult to convince students that their work is only a first draft and it has to go through revisions (possibly several revisions) before it is ready to be evaluated.  A way that I have explained this to students is by using these posters to differentiate between first draft and final copy writing.  These posters are based on the First- vs. Second-Draft Comparison Chart in Gallagher’s “Teaching Adolescent Writers” (p. 51) from Mary K. Healy in Bay Area Writing Project.  I’ve changed the language a bit to make it more accessible for my students.

I’ll be posting on the following strategies to help you get your students writing, revising, and polishing their drafts soon:

  • STAR (Substitute, Take things out, Add, Rearrange) from Richard Cornwell, South Basin Writing Project
  • Surface vs. Deep Revision from Kelly Gallagher in “Teaching Adolescent Writers”
  • Hot Writing from Teresa Totten (I heard her speak at Reading for the Love of It and she was phenomenal!)

Just click on the image below for the posters!

For some other Language Arts posters, check out PEEL!

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