Writing Step 4: Writing a Draft
This last strategy supports students in their writing of prose. As sentences grow into paragraphs, teachers can model and coach students regarding how to connect ideas in a coherent manner. In this step, topic and concluding paragraphs are also modeled and coached.
Teachers can support student prose by providing sentence starters and transitional words that link sentences. Graphic organizers can support student writing in this phase both for constructing sentences and for constructing paragraphs. One practice for doing so would be to provide sentence starters for students for each part of the essay. These sentences starters might include:
- “I believe ____________ because ________________.”
- “One piece of evidence that supports this idea is ________________.”
- “I trust this evidence because __________________.”
Video and Reflection: Watch Thinking andCommunicating Like a Historian as an example of organizing and structuring evidence. You may want to take notes on the questions below.
- Before you watch: Think about the following: How often do students write drafts in your classroom? What obstacles do you find in having students write in your classroom?
- Watch the video: As you watch, notice how Mr. Lazar supports draft writing in his classroom. What supports does he offer to help his students write like historians?
Steve Lazar discusses how teaching his students the specific language of his discipline gives them the tools to better discuss and write about content.
Teacher: Steve Lazar
School: Harvest Collegiate High School, New York, NY
Discipline: History/Social Studies
Lesson Topic: Writing about complicated things (“It’s Complicated”)
Lesson Month: March
Number of Students: 20
Other: Theme-based semester-long elective course in the history discipline. “It’s Complicated” focuses on current world issues. Content is 100 percent student inquiry-driven, topics are selected by students, and content is built by Mr. Lazar as they go.
- Reflect: How might the ideas about supporting students’ writing and draft writing from this video be incorporated into your own teaching?