It’s All in the Planning – Writing Strategies

The most difficult part of any task that you don’t enjoy doing, is getting started. For struggling writers, working on a paragraph or paper is low on the list of “Fun Things To Do” or maybe not there at all.  So, the challenge is to make it fun or at least not frustrating.
When you are baking a cake, you need a recipe. When you are putting together a swing set, you need the directions. When you are writing a paper, you need a plan.
I use Inspiration Software’s Inspiration Maps on the iPad to make the planning and writing process fun and easy. For elementary age children, they now have Kidspiration Maps on the iPad. This software works on tablets and computers, but the iPad version is really fun to use.
First we choose a template. Most of the time I use a simple template with a single bubble.  The student writes the thesis or topic of his paragraph in the bubble.  Then we pull in a fun picture from Safari or use one of the Inspiration pictures and paste it onto one of the bubbles. Next, the student writes everything they have learned about their topic in diagram mode or outline mode under the topic. In diagram mode, kids click on an arrow to pull up a bubble and put in their information. Finally, the student customizes their diagram with colors, shapes and more pictures if necessary.
There! The planning process is done and by this point they are ready to start writing using their Inspiration Map. I send the information to Pages or Microsoft Word so they don’t have to re-type the information and now we work on adding conjunctions, adjectives and transition words to make their paragraph flow. Add a concluding sentence and – voila! they have a paragraph.
I’ve seen tears turned to smiles and sighs of relief audibly expelled. Writing can be fun if you know where to start. Challenge your students to find the fun in the process.