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Writing: Organization



Today's Snack: Shoelace licorice can be bitten off into different lengths to "doodle" a house or an animal or a car or anything you want, on a paper plate or napkin. Then eat your "outline"! Wash down with a glass of milk.




Print out this Treat for each student, or provide drawing paper

Pencil | Stopwatch or clock with a second-hand

Colored pencils | Lined paper



So you've done your research, and now it is time to put your information into written form as a report. What do you do? Put all your information into the oven and hope it pops out as a nice report?


That would be "hot," if it worked. But no! You have to plan it out.


But, as with baking, if you follow a "recipe" for your writing, there's a better chance that what you create will be delicious. With writing, that may mean a delicious GRADE.


Another name for a "recipe" in writing is an outline. An outline is like a sketch that shows just the main parts of something.


What do you like to draw? Cars? Cats? Faces? Horses? Most of the time, when you draw something, you are just making an outline of it. You aren't adding all the details and shading that make it look realistic.


Take 10 seconds to make a quick outline of your favorite vehicle or animal in the space below, or on drawing paper:












Now, take 30 seconds to add details and finish up your drawing.


See how big a difference there is between your "outline," and your finished product? It's the same thing with a piece of writing.


A builder starts building a house by nailing up the wooden boards that are the framework for the walls. Framework is to a house as an outline is to a report.


It's a great idea to plan ahead. An outline can help make writing a snap. It's a way to help you remember to include lots of interesting details and descriptions that can bring your writing alive.


Let's plan a three-paragraph report by making an outline.


In outlines, you show the order with Roman numerals. You don't have to use them later, on your report, but you can if you want. On a piece of lined paper, number your paragraphs I, II and III along the left-hand column. Going down the left side of your paper, put your I in the upper left-hand corner, your II kind of in the middle, and your III near the bottom. They stand for these three main parts:


I is the first paragraph -- the beginning -- the Introduction. You tell the reader exactly what you are going to write about. You might start with an interesting "hook" to capture the reader's attention, and then include a couple of facts to back up your thesis (THEE-sis), or main idea.


II is the Body of your report - the middle -- where you will include all the facts and ideas that follow from your Introduction, and prove your thesis. You might want to use "the Rule of Three" -- include three facts or ideas about each topic. One or two facts or ideas are not quite enough to "prove" your point, and four or more are usually too many for most people to absorb. Remember Goldilocks, and how the THIRD bowl of mush, chair and bed was always "just right"? Use that principle, that three is "just right," in the body of your paper.


III is the Conclusion - the end -- which summarizes your point, explains why the reader should care, and closes with a "bang" -- something exciting, deep or memorable that will make the reader go, "Hunhhh!"


When you make an outline, there are three stages:


(1) write key words that represent the concepts that you want to make sure to include next to the I, II and III,


(2) write a "topic sentence" that sums up what that paragraph will say, and


(3) fill in the rest of your content.



Here's an example:







Outline for "Cats Vs. Dogs"


I. Introduction:

Which are best, cats or dogs? Meow, bark, beauty, friendship, describe Tiger (your cat) and Sunny (your friend's dog)


II. Body:

Facts about cats and dogs, size, ease of care, damage or mess to house, cost, noise, play, stress reduction,


III. Conclusion:

I like dogs best. Will offer to dog-sit Sunny to enjoy having both a dog and a cat.



Topic Sentence Outline


Topic sentence for Introduction:


Cats and dogs are both beautiful and interesting, but which one makes the best pet?


Topic sentence for Body:


Cats keep themselves clean and are quiet and curious, but dogs are more fun to play with and act more like a friend.


Topic sentence for Conclusion:


I like dogs best because when I get lonely, I like having a four-legged friend who is always ready to play.



Final Report


Cats and dogs are both beautiful and interesting, but which one makes the best pet? Adults and children might have two different ideas about that. It depends on the purpose of having a pet. For me, it's to have fun! I love our orange tabby cat, Tiger, but she doesn't play with me. On the other hand, my friend's golden Labrador, Sunny, is always ready to chase a ball when I throw it - over and over!


Cats keep themselves clean and are quiet and curious, but dogs are more fun to play with and act more like a friend. When a cat bats at a ball of yarn, it's adorable. But cats don't fetch, or at least the ones I know don't. Dogs, on the other hand, love to run and explore. If you throw a ball or a stick for them to retrieve, you can go on all day doing that because they love it! That gets you outside for exercise, and it's a great way to relieve stress.


I understand why some people love cats because they are wonderful animals. But I like dogs best. When I get lonely, I like having a four-legged friend who is always ready to play. I'm going to offer to dog-sit Sunny next time my friend goes out of town, so I can have the fun of having both a dog and a cat!



Now write an outline for a three-paragraph report on "What I Like About My Teacher." Use colored pencil or markers to help you stay organized.


First, write key words for your:


I.                     Introduction


II.                   Body


III.                  Conclusion.



Then write topic sentences for each of those paragraphs.



Then start writing your three paragraphs, adding more facts and ideas. If you follow your outline, it'll all flow together well.


When you're done, be sure to share your writing with your teacher. You'll probably see the outline of a great, big smile!
















By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010

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