There are really three basic forms of pre-writing that work well with middle schoolers, in my humble opinion. Most middle schoolers can’t even think of the first word for their research paper, much less brainstorm half a page about it, so I quit using brainstorming as a pre-writing tool, back when I was a first-year teacher.
Now, twenty years later, when working with my high school students, I find the outline to be the most effective of all the pre-writing tools. It simplifies things but keeps every thought compacted into paragraph-length compartments, long before the pen even hits the paper.
But if I was going to go back to teaching middle school, I’d still find that both the web and flowchart are equally helpful tools. Therefore, I advise middle school language arts teachers to give all three of these tools a try: the web, the outline, and the flowchart. Let kids experiment with them to find out which one works best for them.
Throughout the month of February, I’ll post my handouts and graphic organizers that I have used over the years to help my students think up great research papers, essays, and stories. However, if you need to see these handouts sooner, just visit my Pinterest page, where you have access to lots of great worksheets and the lessons that accompany them.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this fabulous video from my YouTube channel, which gives you a head start on the writing process, the first step of which is to pre-write: