Read, Write, Revise, Analyze
Writing textbooks often discuss
the importance of "invention" in writing. In essence, this means that writers
have to have ("invent") things to say. Weak writers often do not have anything
to say, and as a result, their sentences are short and simple. They think
of an idea --"I live in a house." They then stop and think of what to say
next -- "The house is big." They stop and think. "The house is brown."
They stop and think. "The house is on a corner." They stop and think. The
writer who knows what she wants to say, on the other hand, writes, "I live
in a big brown house on a corner." In essence, the hands of weak writers
are often waiting for the brain to supply additional ideas, whereas the
stronger writer's hand is often racing to keep up with the brain. My example,
of course, is simplistic, but I hope it conveys the idea.
You may want to do one or more of the following as separate assignments:
1. Although you may let the students choose their own texts to rewrite, it may be better to have everyone rewrite the same one. The students should read the text, preferably more than once. You may even want to have the class discuss it. Then the students should write their own versions of that text without looking at the original.
2. As a separate assignment, have them revise what they wrote by adding more details--whole sentences, or just adverbs, adjectives, prepositional phrases, etc.
3. Have the students analyze all or part of what they wrote -- for prepositional phrases, S/V/C patterns, etc., depending on the KISS level within which they are working.
4. Have the students do a statistical analysis of what they wrote. In grades three and four, this could be:
the average number of words per sentenceAfter grade four, they could calculate what the professional researchers did:
the average number of words per main clauseFor more on this, see KISS Level 6.5 - Statistical Stylistics and Advanced Analytical Questions.
5. If time allows, you can have the students work in small groups to check each others' responses and their syntactic analysis of their own writing. This will allow the students to get an informal, subjective sense of how their own writing compares to that of their classmates.
6. Have the students do another project, this time on something that they themselves write.