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Planning in Writing: Why it is STILL Important in Any Grade

I bet you are wondering why Planning in Writing is STILL Important in Any Grade! Well, I will tell you that this is a reprint of my original blog post over on Conversations from the Classroom. I just felt like it was important to bring it on over to my new blog and do some adjustments on it. So, here we go.....

The Original

I’ve been teaching for a l-o-n-g time and have seen a lot of changes in my many years of teaching-some good, some bad! I’ve also taught everything from 1st-5th grades and a specials area subject! Through all these experiences, I’ve discovered some passions along the way. One of these is writing! Yep, that subject that all the kids hate and the teachers are right there with them! So, today we are going to take a look at one of the key areas that teachers usually get wrong-prewriting and planning to discover why it is STILL important in any grade! Take a look at the shot below.

That’s a long list of prewriting questions. Now imagine you are 6, 7, or 8 years old. You would be, in essence, clueless! Which ones do I answer? Do I have to do all of them? What do they even mean!!! WHERE DO I START?

This is what I ran into when I first started teaching to “THE WRITING TEST”! Where I come from, they practically invented this test and all the rest of this present torture in testing! We were one of the first states to adopt this and, then, to teach it. During this time “the planner” came into being-and many teachers balked at it! It was a waste of time many said. Yet, suddenly, it was before us, just like those Bloom Taxonomy levels I was using in Literature Circles. And, the truth about “the planner” was there too! Right there-at the highest levels-analyze!

When students enter into the prewriting stage, they are asked to analyze what they know about themselves, the world, an idea, whatever-and then told to write about it! Half the time as adults we can’t do that! We need help! We jot ideas down and go from there. This equals “the planner” and why it is so important for kids in any grade! Yep, and real writers use them too! Yet we expect kids as young as 5 or 6 just to wing it! Not a good plan! “The planner” closes the gap and brings the information down to the very lowest rung of the taxonomy-to the knowledge level! By simply “jotting down” their ideas, students now have a road map for where they want to go and how they plan on getting there!

What Does This Look Like?

This is always the next statement from teachers I work with, no matter what grade they are using the planner in. It can look like many things. In the primary grades, drawing is a HUGE part of preplanning. It is simply drawing the picture of what they would like to write about BEFORE writing instead of after. Students can then guide their thinking by what they see in a picture before them. For us, it may be a bunch of squiggles and shapes, but to them it is a story! It shows planning has extreme value to them, why planning is important in any grade!

By late first and second grades, students can begin to use real planners to jot ideas. Notice I keep saying jot. When planning, students should NOT be writing sentences. They should literally be jotting words to guide them. Planning should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes. I have always LOVED the hamburger planner for both types of writing. For narrative, students put the character in the top bun with the problem. Then they use the middle (tomato, lettuce, and burger) for planning out how the story and problem will progress. The bun is for the conclusion. In informative, they use the buns for the topic and the middle items for their reasons! (Check out this blog post to learn how to Make Planning Your Writing Savior!)

As this progresses into 4th grade and beyond, the state writing test and curriculum involved with it will often help develop the type of planner your school will use. There are so many out there that a quick search can help support you in this area. It just goes to prove that planning, in any grade, is important in any grade!

Times Have Changed!

Yes, we are in a new realm of writing test-and so much more comes with it! However, planning has not changed! This read and write format of testing demands the use of planning even more. Students are now analyzing pieces of writing from another author to then determine how and what they are going to share. Planning is so much more important now than ever before, in all grades! And, educators are rising to meet this new demand!

So, if you have gone without planning, go no more! I offer the challenge of taking the time to really teach kids how to do this as part of prewriting! Let me know how you do by commenting below! And, if you are looking to support high stakes testing in intermediate or primary, check out these great products I have posted in my store that include specific planning materials!

As you can see, Planning in Writing in Any Grade IS Still Important! Try it out and see for yourself how amazing planning can be!

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