Writing Strategies page
Compiled by Robert L. Fielding
Strategies for Writing
To help me organize ideas when writing research papers and essays.
The POWER strategy has three stages. The first stage is a prewriting stage before
you actually start writing and this includes the planning and organizing steps. The second
stage is actually writing and includes the write step. The third stage is the post-writing
stage and has the editing and revising steps.
First start with a clear topic. Be sure you know exactly what you want to write
At this stage, you need to gather all the information that you will need for
Brainstorm and list all the ideas you know about this topic.
Make a list of topics for which you need to get more information.
Gather the information from different sources, such as the internet and the
Take notes on note-cards of all the information that you want to include in your
paper. Write down as much information as possible so that you will not have
to go back later and get more information. Do not write complete sentences;
just write phrases representing the ideas.
Be sure to write complete references for all the information that you gathered
so that they can be included in a bibliography later.
Review notes of your ideas and your note-cards.
Organize these in an outline using the main ideas of your paper as the major
You can write each of these main ideas on large or different colored
Arrange each of the note-cards from the planning stage under each of the main
Arrange the note-cards in order and number them.
Go back and make an outline of major headings, subheadings, and details.
Use your outline and note-cards as a guide for writing your paper.
Write complete sentences for the phrases on the note-cards.
Do not pay attention to mistakes at this stage. Just make sure that you include
all the ideas and that you state these clearly and in order.
Check all spelling, capitalization, punctuation, order of words, and grammar
using the SCOPE strategy.
Check whether your ideas are well stated using the FAST strategy.
It may be helpful to read your paper aloud as a way of checking for errors.
Based on your editing using the SCOPE and FAST, revise your paper.
Re-read it one last time before turning it in.
This strategy is based on a strategy presented in Englert, C. S., Raphael, T. E., Anderson, L. M., Anthony,
H. M., & Stevens, D. D. (1991). Making strategies and self-talk visible. Writing instruction in regular and
special education. American Educational Research Journal, 23, 337-372.
Learning Toolbox. Steppingstone Technology Grant. James Madison University, MSC 1903,
Harrisonburg, VA 22807.
Traditional Power Writing is based on a numerical approach to the structure of writing. It replaces the ambiguity and abstraction of writing terminology with a numbered structure that students can understand more easily. This numerical structure provides the basis for all forms of writing: expository, persuasive, narrative and descriptive. Power Writing solves the writer's frequent problem of how to say it and in what order.
Equally important to Power Writing is the sequential teaching process that builds in steps upon the mastery of each concept. Students are taught how to organize their thoughts before their writing begins. Structured writing follows organized thinking. These concepts are taught with age-appropriate exercises to assure that students possess the skills to expand complexity in their thinking and writing.
Power Writing Plus®, as developed by Shirley Poulton, blends the other traits of effective writing into the Power Writing approach. This has created an integrated system for teaching students to write in a manner that demonstrates rich word choice, sentence fluency, ideas and content, organizational structure, voice, and conventions.
Below is an introduction to the numerical structure of Power Writing.
Once the structure is mastered, all writers can elaborate, vary, and create competent writing. Stronger writers will bend and rearrange the format to allow their skills and creativity to blossom. Weaker writers will compose a well-thought-out, well-organized piece of writing that includes sentence variation, elevated word choice, and voice. No longer will you have students who have quantity but no quality, and students who have neither quantity nor quality. All students will become proficient in each type of writing.
Below is an example of a simple paragraph written with a focus on basic structure. The identifying elements of the paragraph are color coded for emphasis. Using the number sequence, the paragraph below is described as a Power 1221:
Notice the lack of sentences providing supporting detail in the above paragraph. Once the students have established the basic structure, they can begin their second draft. The number sequence for the paragraphs below is a Power 1233/231, with two Power Zeros:
The preceding paragraph demonstrates basic Power Writing structure. Power Writing Plus® infuses the organizational strategies of Power Writing with the six traits of effective writing. The result? Student writing shouts and whispers with voice, creativity and organization.
The information listed above was copied and adapted with permission from:
Poulton, Shirley. Power Writing Plus: Teach the Traits of Effective Writing. Grand Haven, MI: C & C Graphics Publishing, 2004.
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Journals and writers’ notebooks
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Writing for the right side of the brain
Intermediate Writing Prompts
An amazing site for writers
Enchanted learning picture dictionary
Students’ Writing Resources *****
What topic will I compare to a car?___________________________________________
A car has a steering wheel for _________________________________________. Does your topic have a part of it that might serve as its “steering wheel?”
A car has headlights for ___________________________________________. Does your topic have a part of it that might serve as its “headlights?”
A car has tires for ________________________________________________. Does your topic have a part of it that might serve as its “tires?”
Other parts of a car…
How does each part compare to a part of my topic?
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