Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 10: Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum

*Some of these ideas were written about or had pictures in a previous post from Ch. 8.

Main Idea Trees

Main idea trees are used to write about a main idea and then branch off to think of supporting ideas and then the branch off of those supporting ideas with more supporting ideas for those ideas. Then the students can create sentences or paragraphs about their main idea using the supporting ideas.

Of course, the teacher will model what this looks like. For example, if the teacher has a tree about dogs and the supporting ideas of pets, appearance, and activities with additional supporting ideas for those things, the teacher may write this:

A dog can be a pet. Pets are animals that live in homes and are taken care of by people. People love their pets and play with them. Other pets may be cats or fish.

These ideas would all be on the tree that the students have created to organize their ideas before writing. Main idea trees can be used for a variety of topics.

Time Lines

Time lines are used to organize events in the order that they happened. This can be useful while reading a story where the time in which event occurs matters or it could be used when learning about the history of something. These timelines can then be used to write a paragraph that makes sense because it follows in order. This may look like this:

In 1992, Sarah was born and grew up in Virginia. Sarah’s family moved to Georgia in 1997 when Sarah turned 5. She loved living in Georgia and hoped to live there the rest of her life but unfortuately her dad got a new job and they had to move to Wisconsin in Spetember of 1998 when Sarah was starting school.

Time lines can be used to make a summary of historical events too such as wars or inventions.

Compare and Contrast Bubble

Compare and contrast bubbles are used for just that, comparing and contrasting different things. These things could include books, authors, countries, animals, plants, etc. These are great to organize your ideas when you are doing research on two or three different things because you can write the things that are different in the circles but then write the things that are similar in the overlapping part of the circles. This would then give the student a good 3-4 paragraphs to write depending on the number of things they are comparing.


Think-writes are short, quick bits of writing that help the students focus and clarify their thinking. Think-writes are writing that the students are doing just for them, so the spelling and grammar may not be perfect. These can be written on scrap pieces of paper to show that they are just quick writes to be written down and can be fixed later if needed.

One way to use these is at the beginning of a lesson when you are teaching something new. Students can quickly write down what they already know. The teacher usually gives the students about 2-5 minutes to write. The students don’t even have to use sentences but could just make a list of things they know. When time is up, the students can volunteer to share a few things that they have written.

Think-writes can be used to make predictions too, what a story is going to be about or what is going to happen during a science experiment. By using think-writes, you are giving all of the students a chance to think and come up with their own ideas.

Classroom Application

All of the above ideas can be used across different subject areas which is something that I love about them. I have never heard of think-writes before but this is something I would love to use in my classroom. I like that they can be used to introduce a topic, during the middle of a lesson, or to conclude a lesson or unit so show what the students have learned.

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