I have my students publish one piece of writing each week. A grade or praise doesn't seem to give them as much satisfaction as an artifact that includes their final draft of their writing. Knowing in advance that they will publish their writing also motivates them and keeps them engaged in the process.
There are countless ways of publishing students' work (see resources for a partial list), and I try to provide a variety, as well as link publishing to things we are doing in other curricular areas. This lesson occurred during a week which focused on homes and places people live in, and the students had been writing about our city. I chose to have them do a simple art project and send both the pictures and the final drafts to our Mayor. We completed the pictures in an afternoon art lesson.
I showed the class a sample of the pictures we would do to accompany the final drafts. Then I reminded them the importance of using their best handwriting and keeping their work neat to create a good impression. Finally, I sent them to work.
When I had examined their rough drafts, I noticed that some students hadn't met the descriptor we had composed on the first day of this writing cycle. Many had mixed narrative and informational sentences. I decided that I would use the time when the rest of the class was working on the rough draft to do a bit of reteaching. Before they had time to express their disappointment, I clarified that they would do the art project and that we would include their work in the package for the Mayor.
I had them get a clipboard, paper, eraser and pencil and join me on the rug in front of an easel with chart paper. I reviewed the poster we had created describing how to write an expository paragraph and told them I wanted us to write together to review the elements we had to include in this kind of paragraph. I got a copy of the graphic organizer we had created and asked for suggestions for the topic sentence. I chose one from their suggestions and we wrote simultaneously. We followed this procedure for the details, and then I sent them to add a closing sentence by themselves.
When I finished the guided writing group, most of the other students had finished the final drafts. I restated the goal of the week's cycle (learning how to write an informational paragraph) and we read the "how to chart" together.