Modeling is an essential part of writing instruction. But, what exactly is modeling? How should we model writing for our students? Why should we even make time in our schedule to do this?
Modeling writing is important because it allows us to show the writing process to students instead of simply telling them about it. Writing instruction should not be about assigning and grading projects, but about encouraging and developing our student-writers.
When we model writing for our students, we first need to understand and identify what we want to accomplish. What do we want students to gain from the experience? What is the focus? What is our goal? How will the students be engaged during the process so that they are not passive bystanders, but participants in an open dialogue with the teacher.
When I model writing with my students, I want them to be a part of my experience and to glean something from that experience that will help them when they put pencil or pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard). Also, when I model for students, I don’t want the process to be perfect. I want them to see that writing can be messy and we don’t have to get it right the first time. Instead, we may need to work a lot in order to improve a piece of writing. Therefore, modeling should not just be used for a first draft, but for the entire writing process, including revising and editing. Students need to see this process so they do not just assume that teachers write something one time and it’s automatically perfect and ready to share. We want them to recognize that we mark up drafts and change words and sentences. We want them to notice that we have to cross out or delete parts of drafts that need to be further refined. I don’t want them to write a first draft and think that they’re finished, but instead to appreciate the first draft as just the beginning of the process.
While modeling takes time and needs to be scheduled and planned for,