Brave Writer Teen Essay Guide Writing

Summer KISS Essay Series #2: Brainstorming

A recap

  • Why I’m creating a Teen Essay Writing Guide for my two high schoolers.
  • It’s based on the assumption you own and finished Brave Writer’s Help for High School curriculum. Lots of its pages are referenced throughout the guide. If you haven’t used H4HS, it likely won’t make sense.
  • This was my answer for what to do after Help for High School.
  • Here is post #1: topic selection


Brainstorming isn’t a painful stage to me. But brainstorming can be unproductive in my experience, at least without giving my teens some direction. I experimented with various brainstorming methods and included the ones that worked best for us.

Basically my approach is a closer examination of their chosen topic. It helps us see how interested they are in the topic, what’s motivating them to write on it, what they already know, and more.

This exercise collects bits and pieces of thoughts they can use to springboard into a freewrite. Spoiler alert! We freewrite before research. Wait, it’s not a spoiler since I’ve already written about it.

I linked in the pdf a few brainstorming graphic organizers (all free!) we’ve found helpful. The visual aspect of graphic organizers is helpful for some kids. Use them if they help. Skip them if they don’t.

Teen Essay Guide

Print out the pdf and put it behind notebook divider #2. (If we’re Type A soul sisters, you have a label maker and will print a “Brainstorm” label for the divider. Because that’s what we do.) I printed some of the graphic organizers my boys liked and tucked those behind the instruction page.

I also created a digital folder of these pages for my teens to put on their laptops. Then they have access to the hyperlinks if they need them or want to print additional copies of whatever is in that essay section.

Teacher Notes

No teacher notes for this one. Everything is same. The only exception is I noted to myself to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL for a new-ish essay writer. If they don’t really get how to brainstorm, model it on a topic you’re interested in. Then work together on a second topic they’re interested in. (Collaboration! One of my favorite teaching principles.) Repeat the model/collaborate cycle until you feel they can give it a go, then have them brainstorm on their chosen essay topic.

And that’s it for section #2. I’ll be back soon with section #3 where we tackle freewriting, a working thesis, and a rough (and I mean very rough) outline.