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Melissa Forney's 12 Steps of the Writing Process

Posted 06-27-2010 at 05:07 PM by Mariely
Updated 07-01-2010 at 09:59 PM by Mariely

I wanted to post some additional information I gathered from Melissa Forney's 2009 Writing Conference. Here's her 12 Steps of the Writing Process.
  1. Think It
  2. Talk It
  3. Do It
  4. Draw It
  5. Explain It
  6. Gather Vocabulary & Put Money in the Bank
  7. Watch Modeling
  8. Write It
  9. Revise It
  10. Read it Aloud
  11. Edit It
  12. Share It
To explain the process a bit further I'm going to combine my notes from this summer's writing conference and last summer's writing conference.

Step 1: Think It
Students need some time to think about what they are going to write, so we must give them time to think about the topic.

Step 2: Talk It
Thinking and talking go hand in hand. Kids need to talk with their peers, with older kids, with younger kids, and with adults. The more opportunities we give them to talk about what they are going to write the better prepared they'll be when they start writing. Talking gives them an opportunity to brainstorm.

Step 3: Do It
Whenever possible, teachers should add a "do it" element where kids get to do a hands-on activity related to their writing. Whether it's giving them Pop Rocks to help them understand, grasp, and use sizzling words, or allow them to make butter and write about it. In the beginning of the year students can make a name bracelet and write about the day they made a name bracelet. The hands on experience will allow students to add more vivid details to their writing.

Step 4: Draw It
Students can make a quick little sketch using stick figures to help them picture what they will write about. Iconic drawings and stick figures can be easily and quickly done before students start to write as part of their prewriting activities. There are three important reasons why this step should not be skipped:
1. This step forces kids to focus and provides an anchor for their writing.
2. It is stimulating to the brain.
3. Drawing links thought with words and emotions with words.

Step 5: Explain It

Explaining requires reasons, examples, descriptions, quotes, anecdotes, samples. When students explain their drawings or what they will write to others it allows them to defend what they are writing and persuade their readers. A neat activity to engage students in explaining their drawings is the following:
  • Give each student an envelope
  • Play the "Mission Impossible" theme song
  • The teacher puts on sunglasses and tells students that they have a mission. Their mission, if they choose to accept it, is to explain their picture to someone in the school (another teacher, a faculty member, an administrator). The teacher can set up appointments with these people ahead of time. Or just allow the student to explain it to someone else in their class.
Step 6: Gather Vocabulary & Put Money in the Bank

This is a very important step for students. Sometimes we expect for them to use mature and sizzling vocabulary but students just don't have "money in the bank" (words in their brain). So what we do as teachers is help them gather vocabulary so they can put money in their memory banks. Take a topic like "Ocean/Beach." You would first tell students to think about other words they can use instead of Ocean/Beach to talk about the ocean/beach. This is done so that when readers read their papers, they don't see a whole bunch of oceans throughout their papers. Students will work with a partner or group to come up with other words. Then students will share out so the teacher can create an even bigger word bank for other words for Ocean/Beach. Here's a list for other words to use instead of Ocean/Beach:
  • seashore
  • enchanted sandy seaside
  • surf
  • deep blue sea
  • fisherman's paradise
  • salty swimming hole
  • the sunny lagoon
  • the living sea
  • serene expanse of water
  • liquid topaz
  • nautical arena
  • kaleidoscope of blues
  • mermaid's heaven
  • salty reservoir
  • sliding blanket of blue green
  • sandy playground
  • seagull's domain
  • hypnotic waves of blue
The teacher simply gathers the vocabulary from the students before they write. The teacher can then type the list in the computer on small pieces of papers to hand to students so they can keep it in their writer's notebook and use it as a resource when writing about the topic.

Step 7: Watch Modeling
The teacher doesn't have to model an entire piece of writing. The teacher may choose to model one or two sentences or a section of the writing. Students then use what they learn from the modeling when they are ready to write their papers.

Step 8: Write It
Now the students are ready to write. As the students write, the teacher walks around the classroom to assist students as needed. The teacher may also choose to validate student's writing attempts by simply stamping their paper, hole-punching and placing a curling ribbon on the edge of their paper, placing a stick-on jewel on their paper, etc. The teacher should be up and about encouraging and offering help when needed.

Step 9: Revise It
We call revision making the BIG changes. Students are told to revise their papers by adding more, describing more, changing a boring word into a sizzling word, adding a writing skills on purpose, etc.

Step 10: Read it Aloud
Students are given the opportunity to read their writing aloud either to themselves or to buddy up with another teacher or student. This will also allow students to continue revising their papers.

Step 11: Edit It
We call editing making the small changes. The small changes include capitalization, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Step 12: Share It
Teachers can be creative with this step whether it's making a class book, posting the writing in a blog, making an audio tape of students reading their writing, etc.

Melissa Forney's 12 Steps of the Writing Process will help students arm themselves with the knowledge and information they need in order to produce wonderful pieces of writing.
Posted in Teaching Related , Writing
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  1. Old Comment
    teachelem's Avatar

    The 12 Steps of Writing

    Thanks for detailing the steps of Melissa's writing. I have bought 2 of her books but never attended a conference. I will refer back to this blog as I plan and teach my writing this year.
    Posted 07-30-2010 at 05:21 PM by teachelem teachelem is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Mariely's Avatar


    I'm so glad you found a great resource with this blog post about Melissa's 12 Steps of the Writing Process.

    I too own a few of her books. She remarkable and every time I see her, I learn something new. Take care and I wish you the best.
    Posted 08-01-2010 at 11:05 AM by Mariely Mariely is offline

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