The Writing Process: How to use Rough Drafts

Once students have a sense of what they want to write and how they want to write it, it is time to draft.  Often, many teachers discard the first draft as a throw away and miss the many teachable opportunities it brings to writers.

Should Rough Drafts be timed in class or assigned for homework?

Chief among these teachable opportunities is the importance of time and stress management. Working in line with my core value of keeping instruction authentic, it is my belief that all first drafts should be timed, in-class assignments. This is more than a method for preparing my students for the state standardized test. A large portion of a student’s career from middle school through graduate school relies on a series of timed assessments that ask for an in-class rough draft. A student who is better prepared to prewrite and draft under timed conditions will have an easier time in higher education.

How should Rough Drafts be used when they are done?

The second opportunity is for students to review their thought process. After the rough draft is completed, students will have two documents (the draft and the prewrite) to review what they truly know about the topic. Students engage in a process of self-discovery about their mastery of content and organization. If a student finds that they know far more about the subject than what is written, then they’ll have the chance to self-assess and amend their writing. If a student’s draft is highly disorganized, they can review their evidence of thought in the prewriting stage. The teachable opportunity is for a student to recognize the value of self-correction.

Tip #1

Rough Drafts are not for the teacher to grade critically.  A simple satisfactory or unsatisfactory grade is fine.  This draft will be peer edited and revised further in later steps.

Tip #2

Staple the Rough Draft on top off the Prewriting to begin a paper trail that documents the progression of the student’s thoughts.  Remember to always place the newest copy on top so that the most recent work is what an observer sees first.

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