Pre-Writing/Invention Strategies Essay

Berne. J. (2009). The writing-rich high school classroom. New York: Guilford Press.
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Below is an example of a cluster based on last week’s lesson on the writing process:

For example, if you were writing a paper about the value of a college education, you might choose the word "expectations" and write that word in the middle of your sheet of paper.

3 Prewriting Strategies for Any Writing Project - …

1. Teacher introduces the portion of the writing process under discussion on this day.

The prewriting techniques of freewriting and asking questions helped Mariah think more about her topic, but the following prewriting strategies can help her (and you) narrow the focus of the topic:

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Now that you have completed some of the prewriting exercises, you may feel less anxious about starting a paper from scratch. With some ideas down on paper (or saved on a computer), writers are often more comfortable continuing the writing process. After identifying a good general topic, you, too, are ready to continue the process.


Although writing is generally a low-resource subject, there are products on the market that can assist students in many aspects of the writing process, prewriting included. Programs like Inspiration or Kidspiration help students by showing them ways to organize random ideas. For instance, Inspiration allows students to select various-sized and -shaped icons and shows them many ways to manipulate those icons to consider relationships and organizational patterns. This can also be done on paper, without the assistance of a computer. Other programs, like Writer's Helper, help by asking questions about a topic. If the student submits the word "freedom," for example, the computer prompts questions about the subject. Again, if students don't have continuous access to computer programs like this one, they can still learn questioning as a technique for seeing ideas in new and complex ways.


One writerly quality is the ability to look around, to notice, to inspect. Writer's notebooks are both places for recording these inspections and tools to encourage the activity. They can be used as journals, as observation tools, or as a combination of many kinds of writing. Some teachers require students to keep writer's notebooks, and others suggest this as an ongoing prewriting activity. See What a Writer Needs by Ralph Pletcher for an in-depth discussion of writer's notebooks.

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Prewriting is very purpose driven; it does not follow a set of hard-and-fast rules. The purpose of prewriting is to find and explore ideas so that you will be prepared to write. A prewriting technique like asking questions can help you both find a topic and explore it. The key to effective prewriting is to use the techniques that work best for your thinking process. Freewriting may not seem to fit your thinking process, but keep an open mind. It may work better than you think. Perhaps brainstorming a list of topics might better fit your personal style. Mariah found freewriting and asking questions to be fruitful strategies to use. In your own prewriting, use the 5WH questions in any way that benefits your planning.