Every student can and should learn to write. However the process of learning to write often seems mysterious. Many former students remember with frustration the red marks on their grade-school papers and the expectation that they simply fix whatever was “wrong” and get it “right” the next time. Learning to write well is one of the most challenging tasks for students. It takes time, practice, and lots of encouragement. As your teacher I want to help develop these skills and, equally important, a love for words and writing.

Stage 1: Pre-writing

The key to a great paper is the planning. When you sit down to write something, you need to out what you are going to write about. Start with a topic, and then decide what you have to say about this topic. You might generate a working thesis or a main idea that you would like to explore, and then start collecting information and ideas that relate to that idea.

Ways to Generate Ideas

*Free write or use a journal
*Brainstorm you likes and dislikes, and things, people, place, and hobbies that are important to you
*Review assignments and notes
*Determine the who, what, where, when, why, and how of a topic
*Determine what you already know and what you still need to learn

Ways to Plan Writing

*Create a cluster, diagram, or web
*Create a storyboard
*Identify pros and cons
*List supporting arguments
*Sort and organize note cards by topic

Stage 2: Drafting

Drafting is where the formal writing begins. As you write, keep referring back to your notes and the plan that you determined in Stage 1, do not be afraid to change the plan when needed. During the drafting stage, you should concentrate on getting your ideas on paper, organizing your information, and developing your topic with enough detail for your audience and purpose.

Drafts are for the writer: Our brain processes information as we write things down. You will find yourself making connections and discovering new ideas as you are...