How I Teach the Writing Process in Elementary


Last year, a panicked teacher e-mailed me and said they had taken a practice writing test and her students did not follow the writing process. They went straight to writing the one and only draft that they would eventually turn in. This is a writing teacher’s worst nightmare. So, how do you ensure that your students know the writing process and actually use it? Here’s how I do it.

I display the writing process.

The process is an important part of every day of our writing instruction. I display it on a bulletin board in our writing area for the entire year. Every time we start a writing mini-lesson, I go to the bulletin board and we mark where we’re at in the writing process. Even though this board has to be covered for the test, they will 100% know what’s on it since we are using it every single day.

I also often talk with my students about how sometimes we move around this process. For example, we may revise and edit multiple times during our drafts when we meet for group writing conferences. We may also discuss throughout.

This is a photograph of the writing area in a classroom.
Scroll down for more info on the bulletin board!

I model it.

For each writing type, I extensively model the process. I teach a mini-lesson for each part, showing students which organizers they should use to pre-write, organize, draft, and revise. Yes, a lot of their writing is pretty unoriginal after I model my writing, but that’s why we do a second or third of that writing type on their own. This also gives them time to independently use the writing process. They refer to the notes in their binders to make sure they are following the process as we did in our first essay of that type.

This is a collage of photographs showing how to teach the writing process.
Modeling Personal Narrative Pre-Writing

My students use the writing process. Repeatedly.

Consistency is really key. They use the same process, with slightly different organizers, for each part of the process. The organizers are consistent with each writing type, and we use them at least 3 times.

This is a photograph of a student working on a writing activity to learn the writing process.

When you’re talking about this every day, and your students are using it every day, they will use it on the test. All you need to do is give them a quick reminder the day before the test.


April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 


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