The Writing Process_ 20 Steps to Paper Writing Success for High School!

Today has been a long day. Long. But I just created this, and I thought I would post it here for a memorial stone, a reference, a banner waving high in the wind.

This checklist is for the student who needs explicit steps and training in the writing process. Students need to be encouraged to take their time, pace their work, and pursue excellence through diligence and effort.

*note: an outline is not included in the steps listed here, and it also does not include thesis building as that has its own, specific steps.  I really do read the prompt again, and again, and again when writing a paper{and when tutoring/assisting students with papers},and I personally do not have any writing struggles academic or otherwise. Truly, one can’t revisit the prompt too much!

Explicit Steps for High School Academic Writing:

Helps for High School Writing: Academic writing is like building a puzzle or a Lego Creation. All the pieces need to fit together to create a unified whole. Build the pieces (sections) one at a time. Then, fit them all together and smooth out any rough edges.

20 Solid Steps

  1. Carefully Read the Prompt
  2. Prepare For Pre-Writing: Choose and set up Graphic Organizer (mind map, table, Venn Diagram, color-coded doc)
  3. Read the Prompt Again
  4. Begin Filling Out the Organizer/Take Notes on all aspects of the prompt (answer all parts)
  5. Include direct quotes and notes (paraphrases from books, articles, and so on) with citations in the organizer
  6. If needed, set-up a separate Works Cited Draft Page and paste source entries to be polished, alphabetized, organized during format draft
  7. Copy and Paste Graphic Organizer Notes into Word Document
  8. Read Prompt again
  9. Paste prompt at top of document for easy reference
  10. Begin to form paragraphs and sentences from the graphic organizer notes based on prompt. Make sure your paragraph order reflects the order of the prompt. Use your own words and use citations for all sourced material. Include at least one direct quote per paragraph. Cite everything.
  11. Read the Prompt again
  12. Create Intro and Concluding Paragraphs
  13. Delete any unnecessary headers/extra words/ “junk” from Word document that came from graphic organizer or structuring helps. Delete prompt from top of paper if not required. Keep Teacher Guidelines/Prompt/Instructions nearby/at hand.
  14. Add transition words to help paper flow from paragraph to paragraph. Move sentences around. Move paragraphs around, if needed. Copy, paste, and cut as needed. Check each paragraph for a topic sentence and a concluding sentence. Check intro for a “hook” or interesting opener. Check conclusion for an ending impact statement.
  15. Format paper and double space; check length and format requirements from Instructor’s guidelines; Format Works Cited Page if needed and add to the end of paper
  16. Create Title
  17. Print paper and read out loud to person (Mom ). Make changes as needed.
  18. Print paper or share google doc and have paper reviewed by another person (mom, dad, tutor, sibling, etc). Make changes as needed.
  19. Polish and refine based on suggestions and corrections; Double Check Format requirements. Double check paper against Instructor Guidelines. Read out loud one more time to check for flow, clarity, meaning and that the paper answers the Prompt; revise as needed.
  20. Submit to Instructor per their guidelines (in person/online/etc)


*The heavy focus on the prompt and the oral recitation of the paper is highly intentional.


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