Both my 10th grade classes and my 9th grade classes are working on thesis statements and outlines for their upcoming essays–on The Secret Life of Bees for 9th graders, and Life of Pi for 10th graders.
The first stage in the process is a Graffiti Wall. I have them tape their exploratory paragraphs and quotes onto a large sheet of paper. Silently, students rotate to the other papers and leave feedback.
Then, they work on writing a few thesis statement attempts for 10 minutes. They pick their favorite and write it on the white boards, without a name. They then pair up and rotate through the statements leaving feedback.
The feedback is valuable, but giving feedback and evaluating the work of others is equally valuable. It reminds them there are many different topics and arguments and they aren’t chasing the one, perfect topic.
I also want to make writing less lonely and emphasize the power and potential of collaboration in the writing process. I am a member of a few writing groups, and they are essential to development and growth.