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V.1 #1 Spelling and Writing - Prewriting Activities: Getting Ready to Write

The most commonly practiced method of writing instruction is called the writing process. Typically this process includes five stages that writers work through when creating a piece of writing. These stages are:

  • prewriting

  • drafting

  • revising

  • editing

  • publishing

In this column I will explain the prewriting stage and how teachers and parents can support writers during this step of the writing process.

During prewriting, writers begin to collect their thoughts and additional information so that they may effectively begin their first draft. Because of this, prewriting is often termed the "getting-ready-to-write" stage. Getting ready involves planning, collecting, and organizing information while considering topic, audience needs, and personal reasons for writing. In newsrooms, reporters refer to this as "finding the story angle."

Prewriting is essential in the creation of a well-organized product. Furthermore, it is during this stage that "writer's block" is challenged and overcome. Unfortunately for writers with disabilities, this stage may be particularly troublesome as they must encounter and overcome the ominous blank page. Lacking strategies for doing this effectively might make it easier for such writers to procrastinate or give up completely rather than persevere.

Effective prewriting is akin to laying a good foundation when constructing a house: if the house's foundation is ill planned and weak, the house itself could be structurally unsound. Similarly, if prewriting activities are not effectively utilized, a writing piece may never be started at all or may be replete with bad ideas that lead no where.

To support this important process, teachers and parents should engage in activities that provide rich experiences for their students to write about, while also helping the students structure the created content. It's helpful to arrange these activities into two processes: planning and collecting information, and organizing information.

Planning and Collecting Information

Planning and collecting requires that students invest time creating a flow of ideas. This may be troublesome for students with disabilities for two reason