As you begin to feel that you have collected enough information through your research and interviews, it is time to organize your data into a logical pattern so you can write your essay and prepare for your oral presentation. There are different approaches to prewriting that appeal to different intelligences and interests.
Shuffle and stack notecards or notebook paper: Spread all your cards/notes out on the floor. Review your groupings and reorganize if necessary. The groups will be your paragraphs! Ask a peer to evaluate your groups. This is an excellent approach for students who like to move around (kinesthetic) and use their sense of touch (tactile) to aid their thinking. The Outlining animation on BrainPop provides an example--the shuffle-and-stack method is just another way to outline that may appeal to students.
Create a Word Web or Mind Map: You could use a page from your journal, drawing paper, a portion of the classroom whiteboard, or Google Drawing to identify common groups and connections between ideas. Place your topic in the center, then create branches for each supporting idea. See the BrainPop video below for an example. This process will help you sort your ideas and facts into categories, and is helpful to students who tend to think visually.
Draft an outline: An outline is a logical, structured list that will organize your ideas, separating the main ideas from the supporting details. If you think through each of the facts and details you want to share with readers and your audience, getting them in the proper order will help you communicate clearly and with confidence. This approach helps logical/mathematical and verbal/linguistic students make a framework for their ideas. The Outlining animation on BrainPop provides an example.
I recommend each student select two of the three approaches to prewriting and give them a try. Pick the one that you feel most interested in, then pick a second based on your Renzulli profile suggestions. Once you conference with me using your favorite method or best match, you may begin writing your essay using your stacks, maps, or outlines as a "skeleton" or "frame." You now have the plan for the structure of the first draft of your essay! Good luck and write on!