Pen on written document

A writing process

By Vinetta Bell

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

During the publishing stage, the writer prepares a document to be distributed to an audience. This may involve printing the work or duplicating it in some other way in a format that permits public use and response.


classroom wall

Posting student work on the classroom wall is an informal method of publishing. Image source.

Publishing need not be as formal as the word might suggest. The following are all means of publishing:

  • Printing presses
  • Copy machines
  • Computers
  • Online programs, sites, and organizations
  • Classrooms and other school areas
  • Home refrigerators

Reaching an audience

Access to printing was once relegated to the world of commercial enterprises — typically office supply companies, photocopying shops, newspaper printing presses, and large publishing houses where books, magazines, and journals were published. Eventually, libraries, post offices, and school and home computers provided public access to printing. Today, a child can print a document using a computer printer and then display or distribute it to his peers, parents, or teacher. Printing no longer exclusively means a bound glossy document that is distributed to the public.

Publishing happens when teachers post student work on the walls of the classroom, when parents post that same work on the kitchen refrigerator, when students post their work on social web sites, or when graffiti artists post their work on the sides of buildings and subway cars.

The progress of technology means that publishing will continue to expand in meaning and public access. Just as vanity presses are available to the general public, so too are publishing opportunities available to those who are willing and able to pay the price for private publishing.

Technological advances also mean that publishing no longer needs to result in a tangible product. E-books are increasingly common, both because of economic concerns and because of ecological concerns. And for a generation of students who are familiar with the electronic, graphically enhanced word, electronic publishing may soon become the norm. Certainly, the choice between carrying a small disk and carrying an 800-page textbook may soon become a no-brainer for future students and their teachers.

Publishing for English teachers and students means the completion of the cyclical writing process for a specific product. National teaching and English language arts standards typically address the importance of displaying student work in a public manner. In this context, publication is a means of validating the student and the student’s work and of publicizing the teaching and learning activities for others to see and possibly imitate. Publishing might not result in a student’s having a career in writing, but it can affect the student’s sense of accomplishment.

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