Prewriting Web

Idea Map, Brainstorm, Spider Diagram, Idea Web

UDL 3.1 UDL 5.3

A prewriting web is a tool used for stimulating ideas. While prewriting webs may be used across content areas for many purposes, they are particularly useful for generating ideas during the prewriting phase of the writing process. The simplest prewriting webs include a visual with a circle in the center of a blank page. The central concept or idea is recorded inside the circle and related ideas are recorded around the central concept. A more extensive prewriting web can include multiple tiers. For example, an advanced web may include main points stemming from the central concept and subpoints that extend from each of the main points. Representations such as phrases, words or pictures can be used. Creating an idea web is a relaxed and fun activity where ideas are not limited, rewarded or criticized. There are no bad ideas!

Ready-to-Use Resources

Graphic Organizer

8-Point Prewriting Concept Map

An 8-point concept map with labels used for prewriting. This resource includes a version with lines to write a paragraph using the concept map.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Writing · 2 pages

Graphic Organizer

Spider Diagram Prewriting Web

A pre-writing graphic organizer that helps students identify up to four sub-topics and three details per sub-topic. The spider web is labeled in order to further support students in the writing process.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Writing · 1 pages

Graphic Organizer

Two-Tier Extended Prewriting Web

A pre-writing graphic organizer that helps students identify up to four ideas and two details per idea. The extended web is labeled in order to further support students in the writing process.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Writing · 1 pages

Implementation Tips

Use Blank Pages
Use blank pages to create idea webs so that students are not limited in the number of ideas they can generate.
Model How There are No wrong Ideas
Encourage everyone to participate and share ideas. Explicitly state that there are no wrong ideas and the purpose of the task is to record as many thoughts as possible. Model being very generative and including all kinds of ideas, even ones that will not make the final cut.
Small Groups
If utilizing small groups, vary personality types. This allow for the generation of a wider set of ideas. Also, smaller groups may afford more reserved students the opportunity to shine.
Color Code Main Points
Use different colors to group main points or subpoints.
Printable Idea Web
Check out Scholastic's [[ | printable idea web ]].
Templates for More Support
For students requiring more support, provide a teacher-created prewriting web template. It can be a blank web or partially-completed, depending on the need of the student.
Use Multiple Times Throughout Writing Cycle
Try using a prewriting web throughout the instructional cycle. For example, try using it as a hook to activate prior knowledge about a writing topic. Or, use it at the close of a lesson to summarize learning.


Lower Elementary
When working on a narrative in which students must recount and appropriately sequence events, teachers can distribute a prewriting web template with the prompt at the center (e.g. Tell me about the best day of your summer vacation.) Students can use words, phrases, or draw pictures to capture their ideas around the prompt.
Upper Elementary
Prior to responding to a narrative prompt (e.g. Describe your School), teachers can encourage students to use a prewriting web to brainstorm the content that will be included. Write the central topic or prompt at the center of the web. Main points branching from the prompt would include main ideas for each paragraph (e.g. Classroom, Cafeteria, Library, Gym). Supporting details (subpoints) then branch from the main points (e.g. Library: tall bookshelves, rectangular tables, rug for story time).
Middle School
When responding to a persuasive prompt (e.g. Convince your parents to allow you to stay at a friend's house.), use a prewriting web to generate ideas to build out a compelling argument. The central persuasive prompt is written at the center of the page. Arguments in favor of the prompt and the key counterclaims serve as the main points branching from the central concept (e.g. make new friends, give parents an alone night). Ideas supporting the prompt or addressing counterclaims branch out from the main points.
High School
When narrowing down a specific topic for an open-ended informative writing assignment (e.g. Write about a current event to educate your peers.), use a prewriting web to help students think through potential topics. Write the general assignment (e.g. current event) at the center of the circle, then have students record their topic ideas around the center (e.g. a local election, a national headline, a school policy change). Finally, students will record all related thoughts around each topic idea. The completed web can be used as a tool to determine the final topic.
High School
When crafting an informative essay, a prewriting web can be used to consider differing perspectives. List the topic at the center of the page (e.g. Civil War Survivors). Main points branching out from the central topic include the related, but differing perspectives (e.g. Confederate Soldiers, Union Soldiers, Slaves, Children, Women). Subpoints branching out from each main point support the unique perspective of each (e.g. thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions).

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