Pre-Writing Outline Strategies

Outline Strategies
Better Writing
Starting Today
“Why do we have to do this?”
• Students avoid outlining because they think:
– It’s confusing.
– It’s an extra step.
– It’s not useful.
– It’s too much work.
• Outlining provides structure.
• Outlining limits “writer’s block.”
• Outlining limits the need to formulate ideas during
essay writing.
• Outlining allows students to see the “big picture.”
• Outlining serves as a writing map.
• Outlining develops organization skills.
• Outlining requires parallelism.
What the Experts Say
• “Outlining will help you […] to figure
out how each section of the paper
relates to the others” (MLA
Handbook 41).
• “Developing an outline can help you
to see the logical progression of your
argument” (MLA Handbook 41).
More Experts…
• “Create an outline when you want to show the
hierarchical relationship or logical ordering of
information” (Purdue Online Writing Lab).
• “Remember: creating an outline before writing
your paper will make organizing your thoughts a
lot easier” (Purdue Online Writing Lab).
• “With an outline, you move from a random listing
of items as they occurred to you to a deliberate
map that will guide readers from point to point”
(Lannon 44).
What Can Teachers Do?
• Dedicate time specifically to outlining.
• Spend time one-on-one with students as
they outline. This gives students feedback
about their ideas before they write.
• Provide examples.
• Provide clarity.
“Students need frameworks
to think within. They
can’t just think.
Especially if you want it
to be critical thinking.”
– Richard Cash
Education Consultant
Basic Outline Worksheet
Outline Worksheets
for Narration
• Outlining for narration provides:
– Plot development and coherence
– Character identity
– Conflict clarity
Short Story Outline Worksheet
Narrative Peer Review
Outline Worksheets
for Compare and Contrast
• Outlining for comparing and contrasting
– Strategy
– Organization
– Coherence
– Thesis clarity for persuasion
Compare and Contrast Outline
Compare/Contrast Peer Review
Outline Worksheets
for Research
• Outlining for research writing provides:
– Improved paragraph structure and
– A map to follow
– Strategy
– Organization
– Coherence
– Thesis clarity
Group Research Worksheet
Individual Research Outline(1)
Individual Research Outline(2)
“Whoever is doing the
reading, writing and
talking is the one who
is getting smarter.”
-Cris Tovani
-Bennett Literacy Lab
Outline Worksheets
for Analysis and Persuasion
• Outlining for analytical essays provides:
– A map to follow
– Convincing, coherent examples
– Structure
– Thesis clarity
– Line(s) of argument
Literary Analysis Outline
Literary Analysis Peer Review
Film Analysis Outline Worksheet
Poetry Explication Outline
Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Kermesse (1567-68)
Student Responses to
Outline Worksheets
• “You brainstorm and develop your paper at the same time.”
• “I felt like I saw the big picture.”
• “It’s really easy to write the essay when the outline is
• “It provides a starting point for essays.”
• “It helps with your structure.”
• “It FORCES you to organize.”
• “It relieves pressure during the actual writing.”
• “You can pause during your writing because you aren’t going
to lose your train of thought.”
• “It lets you improve your writing as you write.”
Other writing
assignments that could
benefit from an
outline worksheet?
Works Cited
Lannon, John M. The Writing Process. 10th Ed., HarperCollins;
2008. Print.
Ledbetter, Mary Ellen. Ready-to-Use English Workshop
Activities for Grades 6-12: 180 Daily Lessons Integrating
Literature, Writing & Grammar Skills. Jossey-Bass; San
Francisco, 2005. Print.
“Outlining.” MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
7th Ed., The Modern Language Association of America;
New York, 2009. Print.
“Why and How to Create a Useful Outline.”
Purdue Online Writing Lab, Purdue University,
2012. Web. 30 July 2012.