Paper Lightning


The #1 Writing Lesson: Prewrite for Effective Essays

Paper Lightning: Prewriting Activities to Spark Creativity and Help Students Write Effectively

by Darcy Pattison. Prufrock Press, 108 Pages. ISBN: 978-1-877673-77-1

When faced with an essay writing prompt, kids need to slow down and plan before they write. The best writing lesson you can teach students a variety of prewriting activities. Let your teaching go beyond simple outlining and graphic organizers to encourage new ideas and ways of thinking. In short, a rich prewriting environment encourages exploration and expansion of ideas that will result in stronger essays and creative writing

If You Teach Students To Do Multiple Pre Writing Activities, Essays Improve

If The #1 Writing Lesson is to prewrite, then The #2 Writing Lesson is to teach students to do multiple prewriting activities, focusing on different aspects of the writing process. For example, some prewriting lessons focus on expansion of ideas, while others focus on vocabulary or language used, which impacts voice. For personal narrative essays, teach students to remember or recall details for the essay. Descriptive essays benefit from lessons on sensory details. Other activities teach students to evaluate the information that research turned up. Some prewriting tasks teach kids to structure or outline the information in a convincing way for a persuasive essay. Prewriting can even direct the research needed for an expository, informational, descriptive, analytical or persuasive essay.

Lesson Plans, Prewriting Assignments & Brainstorming Ideas

For any given writing prompt or writing assignment, you’ll likely teach four or five prewriting activities to strengthen the writing process. That’s where Paper Lightning: Prewriting Activities to Spark Creativity and Help Students Write Effectivelycan help.

  • For teachers: Over 30 Prewriting Activities, ready to teach, supports teaching the writing process for descriptive, expository, personal or persuasive essays; lesson plans for folktales and short story
  • For teachers: Printable Student Pages, easy to teach
  • For teachers: Sample Answers
  • For teachers: Use with any approach to teaching writing. Includes chart for correlations to 6 +1 Writing, Scaffolded Writing, Writer’s Workshop and the NCTE Beliefs About the Teaching of Writing.


  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Oral Storytelling
  • Using Strong Words
  • Adding Details
  • Ugly Writing
  • Organizing Facts
  • Planning to Persuade
  • Planning Fiction
  • Folk Tales
  • Sample Answers

DARCY PATTISON: Children’s Book Author and Writing Teacher

Children’s book author and writing teacher Darcy Pattison understands
the writing process from the inside out. She is the author of The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), which received starred reviews in Kirkus and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and was included on the Best Book of the Year lists from Child magazine and Nick Jr. Family Magazine. MORE About Darcy Pattison


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