This semester has reaffirmed that students who complete a graphic organizer are better essay writers. They have pre-organized their ideas and many even do a quick check to verify that everything fits where it should and there are no duplicates of the same idea. They are not “winging” it. When students write down random ideas and call it an outline, their writing gets very random.
Next semester, I am going to go even heavier on the graphic organizer. I will only accept their essays if they have completed their thesis statement, three pieces of evidence and the supporting details on their graphic organizer. For some writing assignments, I have elongated a graphic organizer to cover two pages so that they do not run out of writing space. Most of the students who had learning gaps this semester had thinking learning gaps; they did not have enough evidence or they did not have details to support their thesis. Some students had grammar learning gaps but even then I could understand their ideas or lack of ideas.
I want to reduce their revisions or rather make their revisions to change from being proficient to above proficient instead of going from below proficient to barely proficient. I hope to raise the bar for them.