Hi everyone, Gabby here. I'm excited to share this idea with you today. It is one of my favorite ideas and tool we have used so far this year. You may have also noticed (we are 110% sure you have) that writing is a process and writing can be hard!
We all have our moments where we slump into the doldrums and lows where we just do not know how to get out. I noticed this with myself when working on storytelling pieces.. Each time I started to take on a story, I found myself landing in the same slumps and moaning at very similar times in the process. My friends would laugh on the phone, "Gabby, this always happens to you.. Right about now!" What helped me was recognizing that the lows came specifically during the brainstorming process (and deciding which idea to use!) and just that knowledge that this was a part of my process, gave me some perspective to work through it. And thus, the writing process map was born!
The task: have students create wacky wonderful depictions of their own personal writing processes. Sure, many schools use Writer's Workshop (we do) and have a set few steps for how the writing process works, ie: brainstorming, drafting, or publishing etc. However, even within this structure we all (surprise!) take it on and experience it in our own unique way.
We asked our students to show through drawings, arrows (there ended up being SO many arrows), and captions how the writing process goes for them. We set them up with examples from different teachers and with a few questions to consider :
What are times am I usually flowing and/ or excited during the Writing process? How do I show that?
What are times when I am stuck and/or frustrated… ? Make sure to show that in all its glory!
What works for me when I get stuck in this spot or that spot or another spot… make sure to include that!
From these questions our students created features like:
"failure walls!" that popped up during brainstorming (or for one more reluctant writer, throughout his whole map!)
or "alert!" signs telling them to take it slow when they had to take on editing their punctuation.
We also saw pep talks written all over the maps like, "At this part for drafting, don't worry about your spelling!" and "You usually get mad here-- get water and keep going!".
Some students even created a full table complete with multiple steps for how to work through their grumpy moments.
Needless to say, every single map is different, even though on a larger level we go through a similar process as a class for Writing. We were blown away by their creativity and the fun they had thinking about themselves and naming what was hard for them.
Using Writing Process Maps:
At this point in the year, the writing process map continues to be one of our favorite tools. Some students bring it out with them when we work on any writing, some take it out only at the beginning of a new piece of writing to remind themselves of where they are headed personally in a tangible way. Other students, when they hit their grumpy frustrated points, get reminded by a teacher to go look at their process and see where they are in it. They often point to a spot in the map where they typically feel low and follow their map to move out of it. They gain some perspective and they keep trekking through to wonderful and challenging process of writing.
Try it out!
We would love to hear if anybody tries this with their students and if so, how it goes. Feel free to take a look at some of our students’ maps down below!
Sending you our best from D.C.