76: Drafting Writing




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These are examples of activities that guide students to create writing drafts for public writing.  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.


Four-Card Stud
  • Uses:
    • helps students get started with writing
    • helps students identify logical sequences for writing
    • helps students learn how much explanation to include with each part
  • Play by play:
    • Hand out 4” x 6″ note cards to each student (or letter size paper cut into 4 equal parts)
    • On top of first card, jot down phrase or title describing topic
    • Quick brainstorm of related topics on 1st card
    • Circle one phrase on 1st card that student can tell more about
    • Transfer topic to 2nd card
    • Brainstorm related ideas and topics for 3-4 minutes on 2nd card
    • Circle another phrase from 1st or 2nd card that can be expanded upon
    • Write phrase/topic on 3rd card.
    • Brainstorm related ideas  and topics for 3-4 minutes on 3rd card
    • Circle another phrase from 1st, 2nd or 3rd cards that can be expanded upon
    • Write phrase/topic on 4th card.
    • Brainstorm related ideas  and topics for 3-4 minutes on 4th card
    • Order cards in sequence that makes sense for writing piece
Letting It Rest
  • Uses/Purposes:
    • Real understanding takes time
    • See work with fresh eyes
  • Tips:
    • Have students put away first draft for a couple days
    • Collect student work if students might lose it
    • Explain to students the reason for the letting the writing rest and how it relates to developing understanding


The four card stud activity can help students develop quick rough outlines that contain main arguments and related evidence.  This activity can help students get started with writing.  It can be run more than 4 times to generate more ideas.


Letting work rest will help students revise and polish their work with fresh eyes.  This strategy can also be used to teach students how developing understanding takes time.


Preparation Steps
  • Facilitate pre-writing activities aimed at building student interest and knowledge of writing topics.
  • Set aside time in project calendar for drafting activities (see 4 card stud) and for letting work rest.
  • If running 4 card stud – gather index cards or cut letter size paper into quarters.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Facilitate 4-card stud activity.
  • Work the room to make sure students use entire set times to brainstorm.
  • Work the room after activity to see if students are able to successfully use the sequenced 4 cards to develop their first drafts.
  • Have students reflect on 4-card stud activity and describe whether or not it helped them draft their writing and how.
  • Ask students to reflect upon new ideas and insights they got while letting their first draft rest.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • If students like the 4-card stud activity and are able to use it effectively, integrate it into a routine repertoire of writing activities used in multiple projects to scaffold writing.



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