What’s your favorite prewriting strategy? At the Cal State Northridge Writing Project’s Summer Institute, we discussed a lot of teaching and writing strategies, but there was a clear winner. Chris Perigue, a 7th grade teacher at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, did a presentation on looping. I loved it so much that I’m even using it to write this!
Prewriting is like planning a trip, and different strategies work for different people. The only constant is that everyone needs to prewrite. The famous basketball coach, John Wooden, used to say that “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
What is looping? It’s a strategy where you write for a few minutes, then look over what you have written. Take the kernel, sentence or phrase that jumps out at you and use it to start your next few minutes of writing. Chris calls this the “center of gravity” sentence. Look over what you have written and ask yourself these questions:
What is your best sentence?
What sentence is holding your free write together?
What is your most unique sentence?
What is your most compelling idea?
Take that sentence and use it to start your second loop. Do this one more time. What do you think? Is this a good prewriting strategy for you? Maps, charts, and lists are some other strategies you can try. Personally, I think it’s good to mix it up depending on your mood.
I chose the roller coaster image because it’s a great metaphor for looping. Sometimes when you start, it’s like chugging uphill. It can be laborious and slow. Then, you get to the top and really start to roll. Once you’re in that zone and the words are flowing, there’s no stopping. Just throw your arms up in the air and enjoy the ride!