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Essay writing: List Page (part 2)

Essay writing can actually become fun and fairly easy! Last week I wrote on Step 1 of writing an essay: choosing a topic and making a "dump page." Dump pages get all your ideas out on paper where you can see them. That's the really fun part, and it makes Step 2 very easy.

In Step 2, you organize all your ideas from your dump page into subheadings, grouping like things together. Take a second piece of paper, and begin to make lists. Everything on your dump page now needs to be transferred to the list page according to topic. Leave a line above each list for the subtitle you will give to the list.

If you are writing a story or summarizing a story you read (i.e. writing a book report), your different groupings might be

  • setting,

  • characters,

  • plot,

  • conflicts,

  • lessons learned, etc.

If you are describing something, your different topics might be

  • what it looks like,

  • what its purpose is,

  • how to use it, etc.

Or if you are describing a person, you might have these kinds of topics on your dump page:

  • their looks,

  • their character,

  • funny or interesting stories about them,

  • their mannerisms,

  • your relationship with them, etc.

In Essay Writing, Part 1, I told about leading a homeschool class through writing an essay on Q-tips, following these same steps. I first wrote all their ideas down on a white board. When no one could think of anything else to say about the topic, we began to organize all the different things we'd written down, grouping like things together in lists on another paper. As we looked at all we had written down on our "dump board," certain topics emerged. We grouped things together topically.

  • Some of the things were describing what Q-tips look like.

  • Some were about how Q-tips are used for hygiene.

  • Some things were ideas about how Q-tips could be used in craft projects.

  • Some were far-out ideas about how Q-tips could possibly be used.

  • Some were warnings about the dangers of Q-tips and they how they should not be used.

  • Some told where you could buy Q-tips.

  • Some told where you would normally find Q-tips in your house, or where you should store them.

It became quite evident as we made lists of all the different things what the titles for each list should be. So after we had separated all the things from the "dump board" into lists, we titled each list:

  • Description

  • Hygiene Uses

  • Craft Uses

  • Creative Uses

  • Dangers

  • Where to Buy

  • Where to Store

Next week, I'll write about Step 3, which I think is becoming apparent: Writing an Outline. As I mentioned last week, following these steps takes the HARD out of essay writing. Here are the steps so far:

  1. Make a "Dump Page": Choose a topic, write it in the center of a blank page, and then write around it everything you can think of about that topic. Dump your brain and ideas onto the page.

  2. Make a "Lists Page": Using everything on your "dump page," group like things together in lists. Then title each list.

Writing essays using these steps really is a fun experience. When my class chose Q-tips for their topic, I was rather afraid we would not be able to come up with enough to write about. But I was amazed at all their ideas and their creativity. Try it. You'll like it!

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