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Planning Your Writing with Bubble Planners

Often when I meet with parents for tutoring sessions and evaluations, they express concern over the lack of structure when their child writes. They feel their writing can be "floppy" or "all over the place." Luckily, this can be fixed. Prewriting (or planning your writing) is extremely important to the writing process. Spending ample time on prewriting skills will not only help with writing but also oral presentations. You have to train your brain to stop, refocus, organize, and then express.

I approach writing in a wide variety of ways, but I also have found great success with the power prewriting method. I have tweaked my graphic organizers over the past fifteen years and refer to them as Bubble Plans when I’m teaching. Power plans (or Bubble Plans) allow for logical, detailed prewriting experiences.

We start with a small writing plan (small bubbles) This plan has a large rectangle where the main topic (just a word or two for younger children or an entire introductory sentence or paragraph for older children) is written, followed by three round bubbles.

These bubbles will either contain quick keywords for a younger child (kindergarten and first grade) to then use when writing one or two sentences. This example has a bubble crossed off for a beginning writer in kindergarten. Their final sentence may look like this: I love chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

* Please note that when introducing this prewriting diagram modeling and then working side-by-side initially would produce the above outcome.

A third grader would use the rectangle to write their main idea or topic sentence. The three round bubbles would then contain ideas for each preceding paragraph (Note: for most third and fourth graders I suggest beginning with two round bubbles. This would give you a three to four paragraph essay).

For second through sixth grade students, you would then move on the writing large plan (large bubbles) template.

This writing plan can be tailored to different grade levels by only allowing use of some rectangles and circles and the number of supporting details required. To gain a better understanding, let's look at how the above advanced third/fourth grader would transfer their small writing plan to the large writing plan.

The first rectangle now contains the topic sentence.

The row of round bubbles contains the main idea for each of the three paragraphs.

The blue rectangles contain supporting details for each main idea.

The final round bubbles at the end contain concluding thoughts for each paragraph.

The final rectangle at the bottom of the template contains a concluding sentence.

Once a plan is filled out, I go over it with the child and I actually use a planning rubric.

The rubric can be tailored for each child and the expectations for each particular writing project.

Once these steps are complete, writing will be a breeze!

Ready to write? Grab my editing checklists and writing rubrics here! Or visit my blog post on how to use them!


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