The background to this article was watching a student teacher developing a lesson on redrafting a short piece of text that had been developed the previous day.
There is often confusion between rewriting and redrafting. I well remember a colleague for whom redrafting meant simply “writing out in best”. This unproductive activity could take the best part of an hour and for those with poor handwriting could mean lunchtime too. It also meant that for many they were copying out errors and reinforcing them by copying.
Drafting is the process of refinement of a piece of work and it goes without saying that every piece of writing could be improved by careful editing, word selection, phrasing and at times complete reorganisation. I’m 100 words into this post, and already someone will have picked up something which grates. It’s the nature of making writing public and for every learner their efforts are always public, even if only between them and their teacher. For some the public extends to all those who walk past displays.
The process of drafting should be embedded within the writing processes already in existence, so that it becomes part of writing improvement, not something that is done because it says so on a long term plan, done one week and forgotten the next. It should become second nature.
Another post looks at the two page approach to writing.
This is capable of incorporating redrafting by adding an additional page (left hand, for those who’ve read the original, for a second draft to be written after changes have been worked.
One significant issue is the amount of available space for redrafting ideas, especially in 1cm lined books where learners write on every line. Where do they put changes? I’ll express a preference for A4 unlined paper exercise books with differentiated line guides. If learners write on alternate lines, they can revisit their writing and have space to incorporate changes. Also plain paper allows a broader range of activities to be developed within one book.
Redrafting can be messy. Learners have to get used to crossings out on their original work, adding new, better words, phrases or whole passages.
Redrafting doesn’t have to be the whole document or poem, at least not within a lesson developing the skills. Better to have evidence of improvement of a few sentences, than an extended piece with maybe a word or two changed. Focus on the introductory sentences. Do they engage the reader? How could they be reworked?
Further redrafting can become useful homework activity.
Teacher feedback between stages should be guidance towards improvement-formative commentary, based on personal learning targets.
There’s time for a summing up at the end of the process.
The whole process can be supported with technology:-
IWB, linked to visualiser, scanner or iPad/phone can put an example into general discussion. With the use of highlighting, rewriting, addition of specific words, phrases, with correct punctuation, the children can SEE what you mean. This is a highly effective strategy. A portfolio of exemplar materials available to all learners is also a very useful support to the visualisation process.
Drafts created on pc or laptops are very easily edited and printed, considered away from the computer, then rewritten.
Typing work already written has limited value, see comment on rewriting for handwriting, unless it is for display.