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Writing Process Orientation

Author: NYCWP



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The Writing Process Orientation

The writing process orientation constitutes a complex shift in attitudes, behavior, ideas and approaches – whose ramifications for the classroom have barely begun to be explored. What we know to date can be summarized as six principles. Before we present them, though, it is important to note that none of these principles is presented didactically at the beginning of a writing project. Rather, teachers discover each principle by engaging in a number of activities. At the end of a summer project, teachers generally have sufficient experience as writers to see a new role for writing in their lives, and to discover for themselves fresh approaches for presenting writing in their classrooms. Usually they arrive at decisions to initiate changes in their approaches to teaching that are consistent with some or all of the following principles:

Principle 1: Experience – People learn to write by writing. If teachers are interested in teaching their students to write, they will provide opportunities for writing in their classrooms, and they will model the behaviors of a writer by writing and sharing their writing with their students.

Principle 2: Self-Observation – All writers have composing processes. Understanding how the composing process works for individual writers is one of the goals of a writing class. Keeping notes in a “Process Journal” is one way for teachers and students to record what happens when they write. Sharing these notes builds a body of knowledge about composing that is based on each person’s experience and generally leads to discussion of such notions as recursiveness and discovery in writing.

Principle 3: Range – Writing includes experimenting with and mastering a number of different genre and modes of discourses. Exploring content through different points of view and different literary genres is one way of developing an understanding of form.

Principle 4: Collaboration – Teaching students how to read and respond to a piece of writing, particularly a piece of writing-in-progress, is one of the central tasks of a teacher in a writing class. Teachers show students how to respond by modeling a technique called, “active listening.” This technique encourages writers to develop what they mean without teachers’ and peers’ judgments intervening prematurely. This technique becomes the basis for conferencing.

Principle 5: Audience – Writers need to internalize a sense of audience for their writing. Having students in the class read their writing to one another in small groups or one-on-one makes the concept of audience concrete. Students gain the experience of being readers and writers for each other and thus are better able to understand the relationship that develops among writers, readers and texts.

Principle 6: Authorship – The ultimate responsibility for writing lies with the author. Authors choose what to write, how to write it, and how much response they require. Learning how to accommodate to the demands of an audience is also the job of the writer, with the support of the class and the teacher.

Prepared by:

Sondra Perl

© 1982 New York City Writing Project

DMU Timestamp: April 30, 2019 18:47

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