Is It Necessary For My Students To Outline What They Are Going To Write
Although it isn't necessary for students to write formal outlines to
prepare for writing assignments, most students do benefit from spending some
time organizing their thinking in the early stages of the writing process. This
can easily be done using graphic organizers, software programs, or a variety
of other methods of organizing.
In Tools for Thought: Graphic Organizers
for Your Classroom, Burke (2002) describes the graphic organizers that he uses
with his students as "a vocabulary of shapes" which can help him
think about teaching, learning, reading, and writing (p. xix). In this text
he offers sample graphic organizers, copy-ready versions of the same graphic
organizers, and instructions for using them that can help students generate
ideas, identify what is important and why, compare ideas, assess their understanding
of concepts, synthesize information, and prepare to write. Sample graphic organizers
are widely available in many different writing texts and on the web.
Software programs such as Inspiration and
Powerpoint can help students organize their writing because they have to make
decisions about how to order information, what information to include, and how
to create "sub-topics" for some larger topics.
Students can use webs to easily identify main topics
and details that relate to those topics. They can even web off of the details
to continue their elaboration. To do a web, a student can put a word, thought,
or idea in a circle in the middle of the page. Then, using lines that extend
out of this circle, he or she brainstorms associations, details, questions,
and ideas. Some of these may then be circled so that additional webbing can
be done out of them. Webbing goes beyond listing because it involves organizing
information as well.
Students may find that by putting subheadings
on note cards or printing out and pasting paragraphs on note cards they can
manually sort them to think through different organizational patterns.
Some students may find that they have their own
way of outlining information. They should be encouraged to use what works for
them whether it means using a formal outline with parallel structure, an informal
list of subheadings, or an outline format available to them using technology.
In Teen Living, students use a graphic organizer called a "Decision
Tree" when writing an essay about decisions teenagers must make relating
to school, home, or the community. The Decision Tree diagram allows the writer
to pose a question across the top of the paper and then have several lines coming
down from that question with possible decisions that could be made in response
to that question with the possible consequences of each decision (Burke, 2002).
In Psychology, students use Inspiration as an intuitive technological tool to
organize their thinking as they compose a definition essay on "the self."
<< Back | Table of Contents
| Next >>