Organizing their thoughts before writing their first drafts is a step many children skip. “Takes too much time” they claim. Or “Too difficult.”
If students write an organizer the way I was taught in school, they are right. A formal organizer can be time-consuming and frustrating.
But a mind web organizer can be quick and easy. It does what an organizer is supposed to do–organize thoughts coherently and concisely–but without the pain of a formal outline. Plus kids of almost any age can design one.
Here is an example of a mind web from a seventh grader I taught this past week. He divided his topic, video games, into three parts: Minecraft, time limits his parents impose, and why he likes video games. He had never created an organizer before, so I wrote down the words he said at my end of the zoom meeting, held up my diagram, and he redrew it at his end. It looked something like this:
For homework he will add details on this mind web for Minecraft and time limits. After that we will discuss why each of these subtopics is too large for a good essay, and instead of writing the essay, we will turn one of those three subtopics into the new topic of another essay and create another mind web. This is a new skill for this student, and he needs practice.
Creating this organizer took only a few minutes–far less time than revising a poorly organized essay. You can find more information about how to create mind webs on pages 8 to 11 of my book, How to Write a 5th Grade (or any other grade) Essay, available from Amazon. There you will see another example of an organizer, this time created by a third grader.