Brainstorming with Hexagonal Thinking:

Hexagonal thinking is a method of thinking that allows you to see how ideas and topics are created. Using this process to explore a topic surfaces common themes and central ideas. When done as a part of the brainstorming process for writing, the centers of hexagons clearly identify thesis and body paragraph topics. Read more about the process here.

Creating a Quality Thesis:

When creating a thesis, it's important to have a strong argument. I like to encourage students to use this triangle in the creation of their thesis statement. You can see the fruits of their labors here.

Essays are like martini glasses:

Understanding the essay structure is challenging. As I started teaching, I found myself drawing an upside down triangle for the introduction, a triangle for the conclusion, and a focused line between them for the body paragraphs. And then it dawned on me: essays are like martini glasses. We use this Google Drawing in my class all of the time to remind us of the essay structure. 



Step Up to Writing's Stoplight Paragraph:

My students use the stoplight paragraph to organize their writing. On the one hand, yes, this makes things formulaic. However, in middle school, this gives them the knowledge they need to break out of it. I use simple video screencasts like this one to ensure that my students (and their parents) understand what I expect in a paragraph.This really comes in handy when I'm teaching and reteaching my students various concepts in their writing. You can view my YouTube writing playlist for more of these simple screencasts.

Continual & Asynchronous Feedback:

Google Docs allows for continuous feedback for students in the writing process. As a teacher, I make it to be on each student's paper at least once a day as their writing. This starts with their thesis creation. Before students move on to writing in order to prove their thesis, I ensure that their thesis is something that can be argued and that it answers the prompt. In addition to my feedback, I encourage my students to have one or two other students looking at their Docs each day to give feedback. We develop community as we write. 

Source Credibility with Forms & Autocrat:

Teaching students to find credible source isn't easy, but it's important. By teaching students to look for CARS (Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support), we can teach them to navigate the wealth of information available to  them. As students research, they fill out a simple form with evidence of CARS. Autocrat then transforms those responses into a Google Doc which allows them to build their bibliographies. Read more about it here.