74 : Pre-Writing Activities





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These are examples of activities one can run to prepare students to create public writing pieces.  To see the difference between public writing pieces and write-to-learn pieces, go here. To see an overview of all the steps that go into creating a piece of public writing go here or here.


Anticipation Guide
  • thinking activity that helps build a sense of purpose for upcoming research and writing
  • provide a couple questions (controversial or open ended)
  • have students just down answers with justifications
  • in small groups, students compare and discuss their answers
  • report small group observations to whole class
  • then begin research on related lessons
Four Corners
  • uses controversy and multiple perspectives to generate interest in a topic
  • pose a question with four possible choices – 4 points of view, Likert scale, etc.
  • students move to corners of the room that represent 4 possibilities
  • talk with students in same corner about why they picked that corner
  • spokespeople summarize discussion
  • let students from different corners meet to share their perpsectives
Gathering Information & Ideas
  • Advance preparation
    • prepare resources students can use to research topics in advance
  • Jigsaw reading
    • students read different articles and meet in small groups to discuss their articles
    • can exchange articles to gain more information on chosen topics
  • Using the internet
    • use evaluation form to help students select valid internet and helpful internet sources
  • Organizing:
    • some students find outlines helpful, some not
    • can provide thinking sheets and templates that outline key features of major sections of specialized reports
  • Looking at samples:
    • Discuss pros and cons of past writing samples
    • Snip apart writing sample into parts and have students order snippets in logical order and explain order
    • Use prompts to help students notice key features in writing samples and how they work


Pre-writing activities help students build engagement and knowledge needed to create writing pieces.  These activities fall into the build the field phase of scaffolding academic writing.   The anticipation guides and 4 corner activity can be used to make students aware of their assumptions and perspectives and to build interest in controversial topics.  The gathering and organizing information strategies can be used by teachers and students to gather and organize information from valid sources.


Preparation Steps
  • Research and gather valid resources that can help students research project topics
  • Decide which strategy will be used to generate sense of purpose and interest.
  • Develop controversial prompts or questions for 4 corners activity and/or anticipation guide.
  • Research and prepare lessons and tools aimed at guiding students in the research process. See above for some ideas.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Facilitate activities to generate interest.  See 4 corners and anticipation guide above.
  • Facilitate activities that teach students how to gather and organize information.  See above and here for ideas.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Follow by other phases in writing process
  • Build pre-writing routines that incorporate activities that students enjoy and that stimulate deeper student thinking.
  • Have students reflect on how pre-writing activities impact how they achieve content and writing goals


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