Brave Writer Teen Essay Guide Writing

Summer KISS Essay Series #3: Freewriting



Yes, we freewrite before we research; we don’t want until after. I explain why I made that change in a previous post, but here’s something from Peter Elbow that captures my reasoning…

You are allowing yourself to proceed without a full plan…You are trying to let the words, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions try to find some of their own order, logic, coherence. You are trying to get your material to do some of the steering instead of doing it all yourself.

Peter Elbow, Writing Without Teachers

You are trying to get the material to do some of the steering. In my case, steer the upcoming research. We’re proceeding without a full plan, without a full understanding of the issue. That’s okay for now. At this stage I prioritize my teen’s insight and convictions on their chosen topic.

We’ll be sure to include the full scope of the argument during research. But right now I focus on providing space for their writer’s voice to show up before they encounter outside experts or the academic requirements of this task. Why are they interested in the topic? What feeds their passion on the issue? What do they think about it? That’s the goal right now, not what other people are saying.

Analyze the Freewrite

I talked about this in the previous post too, including what happens when you get a three-sentence freewrite back from your teen. (Sigh. Been there!) How do you pick apart a freewrite in order to find bits of insight your teen can run with?

I have two processes for this: one for the student and one for the parent. I want to train my teens how they can mine their freewrites too, so there are a few steps for them to go through. There are separate steps for the parent to take it a bit deeper. Details are in the notes.

We found these free graphic organizers useful in analyzing their freewrite and directing their research, all for the reasons the creator listed in her description. They’re linked in both teacher and teen notes.

Save this initial freewrite! This is their raw thoughts and feelings on the topic. There could be student commentary they can work into a body paragraph, a phrase to use in their final thesis statement, or a unique insight to include in the conclusion.

Once you finish working with the freewrite, tuck it into their essay binder for safe keeping.

Working thesis and outline are up next!