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Writing Process

Summary of Practices



Planning Guide: foundation work for writing

Beginning–Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers

writing pyramid

Before your pen touches the paper or fingers touch the keyboard, do the foundation work


organize thoughts

write a rough draft

edit 1


edit 2

write a final draft

Focusing Topic: detecting a reasonable amount as a topic

Beginning–Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers

magnifying glass

Focusing Steps  

Take a broad subject and narrow it.

Determine your research question (controlling idea)

Create your thesis sentence (topic + controlling idea)

Topic / Thesis: creating your thesis sentence

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Sherlock with magnifying glass

Your thesis sentence:  

focuses and directs the essay

includes the topic and your attitude on it

includes a statement (not a question)

appears at the end of the introduction (usually, but may be anywhere within the introduction)

Complete Thought: combine a topic and controlling idea

Intermediate – Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

Complete Thought

Why are 20% of Americans unable to find the U.S. on a map?

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so (find the U.S. on a map) because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should…

Introductions: writing four types

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Story telling

An introductions should:   

introduce the topic

indicate how the topic is going to be developed.  (cause-effect, reasons, examples -- Will it classify, describe, narrate or explain?)

contain a thesis statement

be inviting and entice the reader to continue after reading the first sentence

Spatial Organization: narrating your story effectively

Revealing story

Add entertainment to your writing by considering:  

• how you will reveal details

• the order in which you will reveal them

•spatial focus (small focus ⇒ large focus or visa versa)


Plagiarism: strategies for avoiding plagiarism

photo line-up


Plagiarism is using the ideas and writings of others and representing them as your own.

Strategies for avoiding plagiarism:

Quote it.

Paraphrase it.

Cite it.

Plagiarism Examples: identifying plagiarized work

rat smelling a can

Identifying plagiarized work isn't so hard. See if you can "smell a rat".

Citing Sources: What is MLA Style?   (8th Edition)

Author (hitchcock)



Your instructor does not expect you to be the genius who creates all original ideas.


Give credit to the source—scientists, researchers and writers—when synthesizing (putting together) the ideas and data in their work with your work.


Choose a style manual such as MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, Associated Press, or APA with examples for citing your source in a standard manner.

DragDrop-Practices: MLA Citation –drop elements into correct order

screen shot of practice

Drag and drop the elements into the correct order.

(Cannot be used on a touch screen.)

Web Page Evaluation Criteria: separating fact from fiction


Apply critical thinking skills.

Examine the following on a web page:







Evaluate three web sites as authoritative resources.

Grammar Disputes: twenty examples of grammar usage in transition  (20)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL; Native Speakers

A grammarian vs. a linguist


There is a persistent belief that it is improper to begin a sentence with and. But this prohibition has largely been ignored.

This is a rule up with which I will not put!

Less people are using conventional grammar each year.

Keys to Spelling: Sounds and Syllables

Workbook for native and non-native speakers.  (PDF format workbook licensed by this author for use under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International)


Identify the keyword sound in pictures.  (Beginners)

Identify words with the sound. (Beg.–Intermediate)

Complete the word in the sentence. (Beg.)

Review spelling patterns. (Beg.–Int.)

Write the word in the picture. ((Beg.)

Complete words in a sentence or paragraph. (Int.)

Find the misspellings in the paragraph. (Int.)

Change word forms with suffixes. (Int.)

Compare homonyms and words with final "e".

Write visual descriptions of pictures. (Int.)

Cursive handwriting practice pages