Ideas and Content: The First Three Weeks
When you start out writing a paper, the first step is coming up with ideas. There is a wide variety of graphic organizers available to you to help your students give their thoughts some organizational structure. One of the most basic, of course, is the Venn diagram for topics requiring a comparison and/or contrast. There are other thinking maps that you can give your students, depending on the best way to organize a particular topic.
Here are some questions you can have your students ask themselves as they begin to look over their brainstorming results:
What message am I trying to get across? Is it focused?
Are my opinions supported by details?
Have I taught the reader anything new?
Can people easily read my paper? Is it interesting?
You don't have to have your students do as much longer writing as you might expect during this phase. If you carefully monitor brainstorming lists and graphic organizers, you can get an idea of how your students will organize essays, without having them actually write (and you grade!) the essays.